Fish for Free on Lake Ontario (including the Lower Niagara River) and the St. Lawrence River through Labor Day

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Fish for Free on Lake Ontario (Including the Lower Niagara River) and the St. Lawrence River through Labor Day

Woman holding fishResidents and visitors can fish for free through Labor Day in the New York waters of Lake Ontario (including the Lower Niagara River) and the St. Lawrence River without a fishing license now through September 2, 2019, at 5 p.m.

Fishing in the region continues to be world-class even during periods of high water, and new or experienced anglers are encouraged to head to New York's north coast. 

Lake Ontario offers sportfishing with the chance to reel in a steelhead, Chinook, or walleye. On the St. Lawrence River, smallmouth bass is the most commonly caught species.

Anglers must adhere to all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Find information about fishing season dates, size limits, take limits, and other fishing requirements on DEC's website.

Visit DEC's website for more information.

DEC Stocks Over 2.5 Million Salmon and Trout in Lake Ontario this Spring

Fish stockingDEC concluded spring salmon and trout stocking in Lake Ontario, placing  approximately 1,004,187 Chinook salmon, 623,200 rainbow trout, 464,660 brown trout, 400,000 lake trout, 90,000 coho salmon, and 14,000 Atlantic salmon in the water to supply exceptional angling opportunities. Spring stocking 2019 included traditional shore stocking, as well as two specialized stocking methods: pen-rearing and offshore barge stocking.

Thanks to the continued dedication of volunteer anglers, over 558,000 Chinook salmon and 52,000 steelhead were raised in the pen-rearing program in 2019. These fish where held and cared for in net pens at the stocking location for a period of 21-days before being released to improve survival and enhance fall tributary returns of adult fish to the stocking site.

Barge stockingDespite high water levels, DEC hatchery staff were able to carry out almost all of their planned offshore barge stocking. They stocked all lake trout, as well as 144,000 brown trout in the eastern end of the lake (Stony Point to Fairhaven) using a military landing craft to carry the fish offshore to release them over deeper water and reduce predation by fish eating birds such as Double Crested Cormorants. They met all barge stocking targets, except for brown trout scheduled to be stocked at Mexico Point. These fish needed to be stocked out of Oswego due to high water levels. However, DEC shore stocked approximately 20,000 surplus brown trout in Mexico Bay.

Fishing in Lake Ontario has been outstanding in recent years, and DEC’s fish culture and stocking programs should ensure continued fishing success in the future. For more information about fisheries management in Lake Ontario, contact the Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit or visit the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River research web page.