By Senator Patty Ritchie
From Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River, there is no shortage of places in Central and Northern New York where anglers can spend the day trying to reel in their next big catch.
If you’re looking to test the waters when it comes to fishing, an event taking place this weekend will help you do just that.
On June 29 and 30, New York residents and visitors may fish for free without a fishing license in any of the state’s 7,500 lakes and ponds or 50,000 miles of rivers and streams.
Annual free fishing weekend events began in 1991 as an effort to allow all New Yorkers, and those who may have friends or relatives who are visiting, experience the incredible fishing opportunities our state has to offer.
In addition to this weekend’s event, there are also a number of free fishing events held statewide.
Thanks to legislation signed into law last year, the Department of Environmental Conservation is now permitted to increase the number of free clinics that can be held throughout the state.
For a listing of upcoming events, including programs such as family fishing clinics, please visit the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.
Not only is fishing a popular pastime, it’s also a major economic driver for our state.
It’s estimated that New York’s sport fishing industry generates $1.8 billion in economic activity each year.
In addition it also supports nearly 17,000 jobs statewide.
To help support this vital industry, Governor Cuomo recently launched “NY Open for Hunting and Fishing,” an initiative that includes reduced license fees as well as a simplified licensing process, improved access at various fishing sites, stocking of roughly 90,000 pounds of fish raised at DEC hatcheries and improved hunting opportunities for sportsmen.
I’ve been doing my part to support the hunting and fishing industries in New York State, too.
Through my annual Sportsmen’s Surveys, I ask outdoor enthusiasts to weigh in on ways to make the hunting and fishing experiences better for all New Yorkers.
Through past surveys, thousands of sportsmen have shared their suggestions. As a result, I have been able to take their input back to Albany in an effort to improve these industries.
If you’re new to fishing, I hope you will take advantage of New York’s free fishing events this weekend and see just how much our area has to offer when it comes to outdoor recreation.
I also encourage you to visit the DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov, where you’ll find plenty of tips to help you make a splash as you get familiar with the sport.