The Fishing Line - March 10th Issue

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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The Fishing Line - March 10th Issue

Freshwater Fishing, Fisheries Management, and Fishing Access News

In This Issue:

  • Regulation Reminder - Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye Season Closes March 15
  • DEC Biologist Receives Award
  • Preparing for the Upcoming Open Water Season
  • Burbot Blunder
  • DEC Fisheries Staff Spotlight - Steve Grabowski, Fish Culturist

Close up of a walleye headRegulation Reminder - Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye Season Closes March 15

To protect coolwater sportfish during their spawning season, the open season for northern pike, pickerel, tiger muskellunge and walleye closes on March 15 and reopens on May 1.

Statewide Angling Regulations 






DEC Biologist Receives AwardDEC biologist receiving a reward

The 2022 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project award was presented on behalf of the American Fisheries Society to Jim Markham (Biologist for Lake Erie Fisheries Unit), along with the Lake Erie Unit and Salmon River Hatchery staff for their work on “Evaluation of Steelhead Stocking Size and Location on Emigration and Adult Returns in Chautauqua Creek, NY” at the Niagara Fishing Expo last month. Jim’s work was selected from fishery management studies across the country. This research influenced a significant change in New York’s Lake Erie steelhead stocking strategy with the goal of improving survival of stocked fish and increasing the number of adult steelhead returning to tributaries.

The science behind this award is emblematic of the work the Bureau of Fisheries conducts to improve our fisheries management across the state. Hats off to Jim and the entire project crew for this outstanding accomplishment!

Evaluation of Steelhead Stocking Size and Location on Emigration and Adult Returns in Chautauqua Creek, NY (PDF)

Preparing for the Upcoming Open Water Season

Man fishing at a creekThough winter doesn’t seem to be quite done with us yet, now is a great time to get ready for the upcoming open water season. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Replace the line on your reel(s), especially monofilament, as it does weaken from use over time. How often you change it depends on how often you fish; the more you fish the more often you should replace it. You don’t need to replace all of it if fishing for species that don't typically take a lot of line when hooked. Replacing half of it will work for species like stream trout, bass, sunfish, panfish and chain pickerel. Start by peeling off half of the old line and then connect new line with a blood knot or double uni knot, filling the spool to the recommended level.
  • Check your lures or flies to make sure the hooks are sharp, you can either sharpen them or replace them depending on the lure. Also, check for pieces of line left on the eye from when you cut it off last and remove.
  • Check that the screws are tight on your reel and oil and grease as recommended by the manufacturer. Remember a little grease/oil goes a long way on fishing reels.
  • Check your waders or hip boots for leaks. Nothing worse than finding out the hard way after stepping into the water on opening day.

Burbot BlunderBurbot fish

After sending out the February 24th issue of The Fishing Line which included information on burbot here in New York, it was brought to our attention (by our own staff - oof!) that we neglected to include that burbot are also found in Lake Erie.

Not only are they found there, but what would have been a state record weighing in at 17.4 lbs was caught during a sampling survey in 2011.

'Fessing up to this blunder also gave us an excuse to share this image showing the neat coloration of this highly underrated species!

DEC Fisheries Staff Spotlight - Steve Grabowski, Fish Culturist

Steve Grabowski, DEC Fisheries staffWorking at the Rome Fish Hatchery had seemed to be my destiny since I was a small child. We would stop and feed the fish all the time and I used to ride my bike to the hatchery whenever I had the chance from my father’s house up the road on Delta Lake. I remember hanging over the culvert pipe that was located where the clarifier ponds are now and watching the giant fish swim by. One day when I was around 10 or 11, I went in the hatchery and walked around until I found 2 workers sitting at a table. I asked them “How can I get a job here when I grow up?” Their answer was, “Why the heck would you wanna do that kid?” Well, needless to say they didn’t deter me!

After some college for electrical engineering then working construction for several years, I decided I wanted a career in something I enjoyed, so I went back to school at SUNY Morrisville and majored in aquatic science.

I’ve been with the DEC for about 24 years now. I started as a seasonal laborer at Rome Fish Hatchery, then worked a while doing floodplain surveying until a permanent job at the South Otselic Fish Hatchery came up. I was only there a short time before I was able to transfer back to Rome.

I am now the assistant manager at the Rome Hatchery. One of my favorite jobs is coordinating the helicopter and airplane stocking in the Adirondacks. The most challenging part of my job is making the annual stocking schedule for our hatchery. It used to be easy but now with zebra mussels in our water supply it has made the scheduling very challenging.

Outside of work I enjoy fishing (especially on Lake Ontario) and hunting deer in the Adirondacks. I wrote a book on tracking deer in the Adirondacks along with several friends and I write a bi-weekly outdoor column for a local newspaper. I don’t consider myself a professional writer by any means, but I saw a need for it and I get a lot of positive feedback from readers.

I was lucky enough to shoot my biggest buck to date this past year in 2022 tracking in the Adirondacks. It was 181 pounds and gross scored 162 4/8”. It will go in the New York Big Buck Club record book as the 5th biggest typical whitetail ever taken in Herkimer County.