Bringing Back One of America’s Favorite Pastimes

Fishing Regulations Icon New York Fishing

By Joelle Ernst

To increase angling participation in New York State, the I FISH NY program was developed in 2002. It got its start in New York City and Long Island where the primary focus was on public fishing programs

and in-school angling education. In 2007, the program expanded statewide and has been growing exponentially ever since. Attaining the goal of getting more people fishing involves a variety of methods centered around education, outreach and promotion.


Fishing FUNdamentals

I FISH NY staff provide fishing programs throughout the state and, in most cases, all year round. (Yes, ice fishing too!) In 2017, over 200 programs were held. Free fishing clinics are the perfect opportunity to try fishing without the requirement of a fishing license. Not only do participants learn how to fish, but they also learn about the different fish they can catch, how to be a safe and responsible angler, and about fishing rules and regulations.

In 2013, legislation passed allowing an unlimited number of free fishing clinics that could be held in New York State. Now, introducing people to fishing isn’t limited to DEC-sponsored programs. Groups and organizations interested in applying to conduct a free sportfishing clinic can visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89811.html for program guidelines and a downloadable application.

Train the Trainer

One large effort to recruit new anglers is to train summer camp counselors how to conduct fishing programs for their campers. Concepts taught include: learning how to cast a spin-casting fishing rod, basic fishing knot tying, fish species identification, safety and stewardship. This “train the trainer” approach reaches many more future anglers than DEC’s I FISH NY staff would otherwise be able to. Every water-based camp that participates in the program receives all the required fishing gear, equipment and educational props needed to carry out a fishing program for their campers. DEC estimates that this will expose thousands of campers to fishing programs over the course of a summer.

Summer camps interested in participating are encouraged to email fwfish@dec.ny.gov, as limited sessions are available.

Fishing with a Focus

DEC’s I FISH NY Program has recently taken a new approach to “reactivate” its anglers. Older adults, or seniors, are a growing group eager to try new activities and/or get back into the ones they once participated in. They also tend to have extra time to dedicate to these activities. Add in the fact that fishing can be enjoyed by just about any age, and it’s the perfect activity for grandparents to share with their grandchildren. In the coming years, look for additional efforts to provide fishing programs for seniors.


Having great fishing opportunities doesn’t quite cut it if people don’t know about them. Providing information on fishing techniques and on public fishing access is a vital connection to recruiting and retaining anglers.

Brochures & Publications

The recently completed I FISH NY Beginners Guide to Freshwater Fishing provides a comprehensive look at the various facets of fishing. “Fishes of New York”, “Basic Fishing Tackle & Techniques” and “Aquatic Life” are just a few of the nine chapters that make up the guide. The publication is the perfect follow-up for people who attend fishing clinics and want to pursue their next outing on their own.

The recently updated I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New York State provides in-depth fishing, boating and local information for 158 streams and rivers, and 320 lakes, ponds and reservoirs from Montauk to Buffalo. The waters included in the publication were selected by DEC staff as the best fishing locations in New York State.

A new series of I FISH NY guides includes: I FISH NY Guide to Great Lakes Fishing, Brook Trout Fishing in Adirondack Ponds, Capital District Fishing, and Freshwater Fishing on Long Island and New York City. New publications are being produced regularly so be sure to check the DEC website.

To request a copy of any of these brochures, email DEC at fwfish@dec.ny.gov and include the publication name in the subject line. Copies can be downloaded from DEC’s website and are also available from all DEC offices.

Fishing Know-How at your Fingertips

In today’s world, people need immediate access to information. DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries maintains over 1,200 webpages dedicated to fishing and boating information. From fishing regulations to lake contour maps, fish stocking information and places-to-fish webpages, DEC’s website offers “one-stop shopping” for ALL things fishing…and then some. www.dec.ny.gov


Friend Us, Follow Us!

Keeping you connected and informed- DEC utilizes most, if not all, the social media platforms available. That includes: Facebook (search NYSDEC), Twitter #IFISHNY #nysdec, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube.

DEC Delivers

Subscribe to the “Freshwater Fishing and Boating” email newsletter to keep up on what Bureau of Fisheries staff are doing to keep fishing great. Subscribers can choose the frequency of emails they receive. A link to sign up can be found on DEC’s homepage www.dec.ny.gov

There’s an App for That

In partnership with ParksByNature Network®, DEC recently launched the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App for iPhone and Android. Features on the app include: news alerts, advanced GPS mapping and photo sharing. It’s free, so download it today and check out everything it has to offer.

Let I FISH NY Be Your Guide

The I FISH NY Program has come a long way in the past 15 years and continues to grow each year. More and more New Yorkers have taken the opportunity to attend one or more fishing programs offered. There is a host of information available to get even the most novice angler out on the water. If you have yet to experience one of the many facets of the program, now is as good a time as any.

Unplug and get outdoors with your family. Show your partner, your children, your grandchildren, a special friend…whoever, where your favorite fishing hole is. Even if the big one gets away, the memories you’ll make will last a lifetime.