The Fishing Line - April 21st Issue

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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The Fishing Line - April 21st Issue

Freshwater Fishing, Fisheries Management, and Fishing Access News

In This Issue:

  • Pike, Pickerel, Walleye, Tiger Muskellunge Season Opens May 1
  • Spring Crappie Fishing
  • Creel Surveys in Progress
  • Spring Stocking Update
  • Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River Public Fisheries Meeting
  • Highlight Hatchery - Chautauqua Fish Hatchery

Pike, Pickerel, Walleye, Tiger Muskellunge Season Opens May 1

Woman holding walleye

May 1st is the statewide season opener for most of the cool water sportfish species in New York. This includes walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel, and tiger muskellunge (Muskellunge season opens on June 1).

To learn more about fishing for these species in New York visit our website or see the links below: 

Spring Crappie Fishing


New York is home to both black crappie and white crappie, although black crappie are the predominant species throughout the state. Calico bass, papermouths, or strawberry bass are some of the nicknames anglers use to refer to crappie.

Mid-spring, in between the opening days for the trout harvest season (April 1) and the walleye/pike/pickerel season (May 1), is a great time to start fishing for them. Shortly after ice out, crappie congregate in shallower (warmer) water near structure (usually woody) and vegetation to feed and prepare for spawning. This provides good opportunities to catch them from shore. So if you're looking to add something new to your fishing routine, give crappie fishing a try!

For an effective rig that provides fun action use an ultralight spinning rod with a small crappie tube jig tipped with a piece of nightcrawler. For more crappie fishing tips, visit our website.

2023 Creel Surveys

Creel survey in progress

Creel surveys play an important role in effective fisheries management. Interviewing anglers while they're out fishing (or coming off the water) provides Fisheries staff with valuable information on what species they're targeting, what they caught, if they are harvesting or releasing their catch, their opinions on the fishery, and more.

Open-water creel surveys that are scheduled for 2023:

  • Annual
    • Lake Ontario
    • Lake Erie
    • Lake Champlain
    • Oneida Lake
  • New
    • Seneca Lake
    • Cayuga Lake
    • Black Lake
    • Lake George
    • Esopus Creek

So if you're approached by a DEC creel agent, please consider participating! Sharing information about your fishing trip today will help improve our fisheries in the future.

Spring Stocking Update

This is one of the busiest times of year for DEC Fish Hatchery staff, as when stocking is complete, they'll have logged thousands of miles across the state! They're almost halfway done with reaching their stocking targets, so if you haven't had a chance to check out the 2023 Anticipated Trout Stocking Summary, you can do so by clicking the link below. With the weather warming up, it's a great time to get on the water, so plan your next trip today.

2023 Trout Stocking

Coldwater Fish Stocked - as of 4/21/23
Hatchery Stocked Not Stocked % Stocked
Adirondack 154,830 496,870 24%
Bath 107,610 94,900 53%
Caledonia 45,330 25,660 64%
Catskill 195,854 124,074 61%
Chateaugay 98,364 128,573 43%
Randolph 103,894 27,826 79%
Rome 121,800 504,040 19%
Salmon River 920,132 1,179,468 44%
VanHornesville 45,250 117,220 28%
Totals 1,793,064 2,698,631 40%

2023 Spring Trout Stocking Summary

Places to Fish in NY

Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River Fisheries Public Meeting

Man holding a walleye

DEC Fisheries staff will be holding a public meeting to share updates on the Lake Erie and Upper Niagara River fisheries on Tuesday, April 25th from 6:30 pm-9:30 pm at Woodlawn Beach State Park's Lodge.

All are welcome to attend this free event and registration is not required.







Highlight Hatchery - Chautauqua Fish Hatchery

Staff with ripe female muskellunge

Location: Mayville, Chautauqua County

Visiting Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am - 3 pm

Species raised: Muskellunge, Walleye, Sauger, Brown Trout

Where they stock: About 25,000 muskie fingerlings are annually stocked in 14 waters, primarily in the Allegheny River watershed, including Chautauqua Lake. Waneta Lake, in the Susquehanna watershed, and the Great Chazy River, a northern Lake Champlain tributary, are also stocked.

Overview: Chautauqua Fish Hatchery is the only hatchery in the state that raises pure strain muskellunge. Each spring, hatchery staff collect and fertilize about 1.5-2 million eggs from wild muskellunge, usually from Chautauqua Lake. Fertilized eggs are then hatched and reared at the hatchery. The first four months of the rearing process occur in tanks inside the hatchery, where muskellunge are fed a dry pellet diet and grow to about 5 inches long. In August, these "fingerlings" are transferred to outside ponds, where they are fed live minnows until they are ready for stocking at about 9 inches long in October.

Staff at the hatchery also raise:

  • 300,000 brown trout eggs obtained from DEC's Randolph Fish Hatchery
  • Sauger (close relatives of walleye) fry from Kentucky and West Virginia as part of the Allegheny watershed recovery program
  • Over 300,000 walleye fry from DEC's Oneida Fish Hatchery

Fun fact: Muskellunge are the largest freshwater sportfish in New York!

DEC Fish Hatcheries
Muskellunge Management in New York