June 15 Season Opener for Great Lakes Waters
Excellent Fishing Opportunities Available Statewide as Nearly All Fishing Seasons Are Underway
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the fishing season for muskellunge, also known as "muskie" or "musky," starts in most state waters later this week. The season for New York's largest freshwater sportfish begins on May 25 in inland waters and on June 15 in Great Lakes waters (Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River, Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River).
"From trout and salmon to walleye and northern pike to the elusive muskie, New York is home to world-class fisheries in virtually every corner of the state. Thanks to our commitment to sustainable management practices, these fisheries have never been stronger," Governor Cuomo said. "With warmer weather now upon us, I encourage all New Yorkers to get out and share with others the many great fishing opportunities that New York's waters have to offer."
"Muskellunge are considered the ultimate trophy fish by the anglers that pursue them." said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Muskie can grow to massive sizes, sometimes reaching 50 pounds or more in upstate waters. They provide one of many world-class fishing opportunities New York State offers in our lakes, streams, rivers and ponds."
Referred to as the "fish of 10,000 casts," it takes patience and dedication to catch one of these top predators. Muskellunge can be found in 13 lakes and 19 rivers. The most renowned fisheries are located in Chautauqua Lake, Upper Niagara River, and St. Lawrence River. Other quality muskellunge waters are Waneta, Greenwood, Bear, and Cassadaga Lakes, and the Susquehanna, Chenango, Grass, and Great Chazy rivers. For tips on how to catch muskellunge, read DEC's Muskie 101 webpage.
New York's minimum size regulations reflect the muskellunge's trophy status. The statewide minimum size limit is 40 inches. In Great Lakes waters, it is 54 inches. Review the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide for more information.
Muskellunge fisheries in New York are managed through habitat protection and enhancement, research and monitoring, stocking, and fishing regulations. See Muskellunge Management in New York State for an overview of the program. A technical brief on the 2018 Chautauqua Lake Annual Muskellunge Trap Net Survey is also available.
Partnerships are important in managing muskellunge. The Niagara Musky Association (NMA), a conservation-minded and dedicated fishing club in Western New York, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. NMA has been a partner in efforts to protect the Lake Erie and Niagara River muskellunge fishery since its inception. NMA members have conducted a muskellunge angler diary program since 1995 that helps DEC with management decisions. They also contribute to habitat protection efforts in the Upper Niagara River, tag muskellunge as part of a study to estimate abundance of the population, and help conduct an acoustic telemetry study in the Buffalo Harbor to determine the best location for the development or enhancement of muskellunge spawning habitat. DEC looks forward to the next 25 years of partnership with the NMA.
Earlier this spring, DEC announced the May 4 opening of the fishing season for several popular coolwater sportfish species, including walleye, northern pike, pickerel, and tiger muskellunge. The coolwater conditions of early spring can render walleye and northern pike fishing particularly good and anglers are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities New York has to offer. Governor Cuomo announced the April 1 start of trout and salmon fishing season in New York and anglers can visit the Department of Environmental Conservation's website to view this spring's planned trout stocking for 2.33 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in 311 lakes and ponds and roughly 2,845 miles of streams across the state. In addition, DEC will stock nearly 1.5 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon this spring. Stocking supports the state's growing sportfishing industry, which generates an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity each year.