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Walleye, Pike, Pickerel Season Opens On May 2

Saturday, May 2nd marks the statewide season opener for coolwater fish species such as walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge. Walleye and northern pike can be particularly aggressive in the spring after spawning, giving anglers an opportunity to have a banner day on the water. For quality fishing locations for walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge visit DEC’s website. Be sure to check out the new feature article for the 2020-2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest “Prized ‘Eyes,” where anglers can learn about how DEC manages walleye, one of New York’s most popular sportfish species, as well as three waters that are the hottest for walleye fishing right now!

Hot Off the Press

The 2020-2021 Freshwater Fishing Digest is now available. Normally, hard copies are available where fishing licenses are sold, but most businesses remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage anglers to download the digital or PDF version.

2020 Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Pen-Rearing Projects

Each year, DEC works with volunteer groups to stock a portion of the Lake Ontario Chinook salmon and steelhead in pen-rearing projects where the fish are held at the stocking location for 21 days prior to release. Previous studies have shown that pen-rearing improves both the survival of stocked fish and adult returns to the stocking site. This spring, the volunteer groups were able to develop alternate plans to operate the pen-rearing projects while still maintaining effective social distancing. Stocking of Lake Ontario pen-rearing projects began on April 3rd and was completed on April 14th. We were able to stock all planned Chinook salmon pen-rearing sites and three out of four planned steelhead pen-rearing sites this year. The pen-rearing program is a great example of DEC and anglers working together to provide enhanced management of the Lake Ontario fishery.

Steelhead Egg Take Complete

DEC Salmon River Hatchery staff completed the steelhead egg take on Thursday March 26, 2020. Hatchery staff were able to implement a modified egg collection protocol that allowed egg collections to be completed while maintaining proper social distancing and protecting the health and safety of the Hatchery staff.

The egg take resulted in over 1.75 million eggs collected from 435 Washington strain steelhead and over 168,000 eggs collected from 41 Skamania strain steelhead. Fish hatched from these eggs will be raised in the hatchery for approximately one year and will be stocked as spring yearlings in tributaries to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie where they contribute to both tributary and open lake fisheries. Current Lake Ontario Steelhead stocking includes 497,700 Washington strain yearlings and 43,000 Skamania strain yearlings. Lake Erie stocking includes 255,000 Washington strain yearlings.

Lake Ontario Program Highlights

The DEC Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit 2019 program highlights have been posted on the DEC website. Program highlights include information on the 2019 Lake Ontario fishing boat survey, alewife bottom trawl assessment, 2020 stocking numbers, sea lamprey control, and much more. A full report will be posted on the website in late April.

2020 Lake Ontario Fishing Boat Survey Canceled

In the interest of public and staff health during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC has canceled the 2020 Lake Ontario fishing boat survey. The survey runs each year from April 15 through September 30 and utilizes two crews of two agents each who typically use boats to intercept and interview anglers returning from their fishing trip. Given that adequate social distancing cannot be effectively maintained during this interview process, DEC will not conduct the survey for the first time since 1985.

Be Safe While Fishing

DEC would like to remind all anglers to maintain safe social distancing while fishing this year to help stop the spread of COVID -19. 

  • Fish local: Stay close to home. Keep your fishing trip short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.

  • Be safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others. When fishing from a boat, make sure it's large enough so persons on board are at least six feet from one another.

  • Stay Home: If you're not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their trip.

  • Be Adaptive: Move quickly through parking lots and paths. If crowded, choose a different fishing location, or time to visit. 


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This site is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Kelly, longtime editor of The Journal and Advance News in Ogdensburg and the greatest newsman in the history of Northern New York.