The fishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opened yesterday, meaning most of New York’s sportfish seasons are now open, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced this week.

This includes catch-and-release fishing for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) in many waters across the state and the special trophy black bass season on Lake Erie where anglers can take one 20-inch-or-longer fish per day.

NY’s Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state, according to a press release. This initiative includes improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, stocking as much as 900,000 pounds of fish, expanding fishing clinics and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

Through these efforts, New York has become a destination for bass fishing tournaments at the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, Lake Champlain and Oneida Lake. Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide to ensure that the water they desire to fish is open to catch-and-release angling on DEC’s website: Muskellunge fishing season and the regular (harvest) season for black bass open June 15.

“Governor Cuomo’s NY’s Open for Hunting and Fishing initiative promotes the exceptional warmwater fishing opportunities New York provides in its abundant lakes and rivers renowned for trophy bass, plentiful walleye, and aggressive pike and pickerel,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in the release. “I encourage all anglers to find the time to enjoy, and share with others, the great fishing that can be found here in New York.”

While chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge are consistently active most of the year, walleye and northern pike fishing can be particularly good in the cool water conditions of early spring. Due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye are found in more than 140 waters throughout the state and quality fisheries exist in every major watershed. Advice for catching walleye can be found on DEC’s website.

Other popular springtime targets include yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even novice anglers. Channel catfish, a popular sportfish in southern and midwestern states, are abundant in many of New York’s larger lakes and rivers, provide a very tasty meal, and are generally underutilized by New York anglers. Tips and locations for catching big channel catfish and panfish are available on DEC’s website. A complete listing of 2013 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists also can be found on the DEC website.

Black bass are New York’s most popular sportfish and continue to be an important management focus for DEC. Cornell University and DEC recently completed a survey of black-bass anglers to gain a better understanding of their views on tournaments, fishing regulations and other management activities. The 2013 Warmwater Fishing Forecast is available on the DEC website. See the report: Black Bass Anglers Experiences in New York and Their Views on Tournaments and Fisheries Management.

Other current black-bass projects include the assessment of bass populations statewide, bass condition and movements following tournaments on Lake Champlain and the seasonal distribution and habitat use of largemouth bass in the lower Hudson River.

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