Free Fishing Clinics in New York
If you always wanted to learn to fish but prefer to try it first, attend one of the free fishing clinics offered around the state. For these clinics, you don't need a fishing license or to enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. It's the perfect free way for parents to learn alongside their children. Make sure to bring a camera to remember the smile from catching your first fish! At DEC-sponsored events, equipment and bait are provided. Participants must bring their own poles and bait to privately sponsored events.
Want to conduct a free fishing clinic? Qualified organizations or groups should complete an application and submit it to DEC at least 30 days before the event.
Enjoy Streamside Camping at Woodland Valley
Phoenicia, Ulster County
This 70-site DEC campground in the heart of the Catskills accommodates adventurers seeking to climb mountain peaks, as well as those just looking for a peaceful respite from civilization. Both tent and trailer sites are available, and many are located along Woodland Valley Stream, where the gentle gurgling of clear mountain water will lull you to sleep at night. Tent campers in particular will appreciate the showers and other amenities.
Hikers will enjoy convenient access to foot trails ascending Slide Mountain (the Catskills' highest), Wittenberg, Cornell and Panther mountains and Giant Ledge. Nearby attractions include trout fishing and tubing on famous Esopus Creek, a railroad museum, and antiquing and dining in the quaint Village of Phoenicia. Within a half-hour drive, the ski centers at Belleayre and Hunter mountains offer sky rides, music and craft festivals.
See DEC's Woodland Valley webpage for more information.
Watchable Wildlife at the Rome Fish Hatchery
Rome, Oneida County
The Rome Fish Hatchery, one of DEC's largest hatcheries, produces nearly 180,000 pounds of brook and brown trout, or 1.2 million fish annually. There's a lot to do and learn at the hatchery. Visitors can tour the recently redesigned visitors center, where colorful panels illustrate how and why fish are raised for stocking. There are feeding stations where people can toss food to the larger fish in the ponds. The fish tank provides an opportunity to see the various life stages of the species raised here. Windows into the working area enable visitors to watch as staff perform essential fish-rearing tasks. Most fish spend about 1½ years at the hatchery before they are big enough to be stocked in any of the more than 350 water bodies throughout the state.
Hike of the Month: Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Staten Island, Richmond County
The site of extensive mining for white kaolin clay in the 19th century, this 260-acre park includes abandoned pits now filled with rain and spring water, adding to a unique composite of habitats. Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve also comprises wetlands, sand barrens, streams and woodlands.
Evidence of the Leni Lenape Indians, European settlers and the Free Blacks of Sandy Ground provides a rich cultural history. Educational programs such as nature walks, pond ecology, tree and flower identification and birdwatching are offered.
Designated a Bird Conservation Area, the park boasts 180 bird species, including 57 species of migratory songbirds. In addition to birds, you may see box turtles, green frogs, white-tailed deer and cottontail rabbits along the nature trails.
This site has some accessible features, including an interpretive center and picnic facilities. Bridle paths are available for horseback riders.
Read these Conservationist articles for more information on the topics in this issue of Outdoor Discovery: