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Below is content from the 2013 guide.

Public Fishing Rights

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Yellow public fishing stream signs will help you know you have legal access to the stream.

Fishing is a timeless tradition enjoyed by millions of people of all ages, and New York State has some of the finest fishing waters in the nation. Many of these waters, however, can be difficult to access because they are privately owned. Since 1935, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has worked with private landowners to ensure access to these prime fishing waters. During that time, nearly 1,300 miles of public fishing rights (PFR) easements have been purchased on over 400 streams across the state. The landowners participating in this worthwhile program are the key to its success, and the reason that our children will be able to continue enjoying fishing. As an owner of land along one of the state’s waterways, you may qualify to participate in and receive the benefits of this program.

Public Fishing Rights:

  • Are permanent easements along game fish streams that allow the public to wade and walk along the streambed and banks for the purpose of fishing, and for no other activity.
  • Are granted voluntarily to the people of the State of New York by owners of private land. The landowner continues to own the land affected by the limited fishing rights easement.
  • Are permanent easements which will apply to all future owners of the property. The easement gives DEC the right, when funds are available, to do stream improvement work (such as planting trees or shrubs), if needed, to protect and stabilize stream banks.
  • Usually consist of a 33-foot strip of land along each bank or along one bank if that is all the landowner owns. Foot path rights-of-way may also be included, especially if a parking area is also purchased.
  • Do not interfere with the landowner’s use of the property for farming, grazing, water supply and fishing. Landowners may fence the land, plow it, cut trees, or otherwise improve it. Landowners may also post their property against hunting or any other type of trespass except fishing.
  • Place no obligation on the owner to keep their lands safe for entry or use by anglers or for acts of such persons (see Section Environmental Conservation Police Q&A – Funding Fisheries Management of General Obligations Law).
  • Follow the natural course of the stream even if it should change its course, as long as it remains on the landowner’s property.

Landowner Benefits:

  • Landowners receive a payment based on a rate per bank-mile or proportionate part of a mile that is owned. (Rates vary on different waters.)
  • Extra money is given if a footpath easement or parking area is acquired. Footpaths are for crossing a landowner’s property from a road to the water at a specified location.

For more information, contact your regional fisheries manager (see Special Regulations by

13NYFW-Didymo.jpg

 County pages) or visit:
www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7746.html

PFR Location Maps

Public Fishing Rights locator maps have been completed for most of New York. For a listing of available maps, visit
www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html

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Although a fresh fish dinner can be the climax of a great fishing trip, more and more anglers have come to realize that quality fish populations can only be maintained if catch and release angling is practiced. This is particularly the case for large gamefish that are typically rare in a population and usually take an extended time to grow to a quality size. With the advent of fiberglass fish mounts, it is no longer necessary to kill a trophy to get it mounted. Before releasing your trophy, take a photograph of it and measure its length and girth. Take this information to a taxidermist and they can produce an accurate, long-lasting replica of your catch. To ensure that the fish that you release have the best chance of survival, please follow these guidelines:

1. Quickly play and land the fish that you catch. Using light tackle is challenging to the angler, but can result in an exhausted fish that may not be able to recover.

2. Have the necessary tools in convenient reach, so that you can rapidly remove the hook.

3. Minimize the length of time that the fish is out of the water. Handle and unhook the fish in the water.

4. Avoid contact with the gills. Do not squeeze the fish or handle by the eye-sockets. Minimize a fish’s contact with dry surfaces. Wet hands before handling to avoid removal of the fish’s protective slime coat.

5. Anglers catching large members of the pike family should remember to always hold the fish horizontally (preferably in the water). When fish with long bodies such as these are held vertically, the weight of their internal organs can cause them to shift to the rear of their bodies, often resulting in irreparable harm.

6. Do not jerk hooks out of a deeply hooked fish. Instead, cut the leader close to the eye of the hook.

7. Consider using barbless or circle hooks. Circle hooks, when used properly, usually ensure that the fish is hooked in the mouth and are particularly good for fishing with bait.

8. Avoid culling fish. Anglers keeping fish in livewells should be sure to keep oxygen levels high and water temperatures below 75°F. Additional information on avoiding fish injury in livewells and at tournaments can be found at http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster/conservation

9. Fish caught in deep water may be injured by rapid pressure change and may suffer from an expanded swim bladder. To minimize these problems, a moderate retrieve rate should be employed to ensure that the fish has an opportunity to adjust to the change in pressure. Depending on the fish species, there are techniques that may be helpful if your fish suffers from an expanded swim bladder that prevents it from swimming properly. Go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9224.html for a discussion of these techniques.

10. Avoid catch and release fishing for thermally stressed trout because many of these fish will die after they are released.

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DEC operates 12 fish hatcheries and one fish pathology laboratory. Numerous fish species are reared for stocking into more than 1,200 public waters across the state. Annual production averages 900,000-1 million pounds of fish. All hatcheries are open to the public from spring through fall, and several are open year-round.

Adirondack Hatchery is located about 12 miles from the Village of Saranac Lake in Franklin County. This facility specializes in rearing landlocked Atlantic salmon for statewide distribution. Annual production averages 30,000 pounds of salmon, with most fish stocked as yearling smolts (six inches long) or as small fingerlings in the spring.

Bath Hatchery is located one mile from the Village of Bath in Steuben County. The hatchery rears lake trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. All of the lake trout and many of the rainbow trout reared here are obtained from fish collected from Cayuga Lake. Annual production of all species is about 86,000 pounds.

Caledonia Hatchery, located in Livingston County in the Village of Caledonia, is the oldest hatchery in New York State and the Western Hemisphere. Caledonia Hatchery rears brown trout and rainbow trout. Virtually all of the two-year-old brown trout used in DEC’s stocking program for 13 to 15-inch trout are produced at Caledonia Hatchery. Annual production is approximately 170,000 pounds.

Catskill Hatchery is located in Sullivan County near the Village of Livingston Manor and near two of New York State’s fabled trout streams, the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek. This facility specializes in rearing brown trout and it maintains a brood stock capable of producing two million eggs. About 115,000 pounds of brown trout are produced annually.

Chateaugay Hatchery is located near the Village of Chateaugay in northern Franklin County. This facility has a very diverse rearing program which includes Raquette Lake-strain lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout, including the Temiscamie x domestic hybrid used extensively in Adirondack Mountain lakes and ponds. Annual production is approximately 90,000 pounds.

Chautauqua Hatchery is located near the Village of Mayville in Chautauqua County. This is the only DEC hatchery currently raising pure-strain muskellunge, which are obtained from netting and egg collection on Chautauqua Lake, and in some years, other waters. Pond-reared walleye fingerlings are also grown at this hatchery. Total production is 3,300 pounds annually.

Oneida Hatchery is located in the Village of Constantia in Oswego County, on the north shore of Oneida Lake. The hatchery was reconstructed in 1992. The rearing program is focused on walleye, and includes egg collections from Oneida Lake (200-300 million eggs/year), and stocking of millions of walleye fry and up to 220,000 advanced walleye fingerlings (four to six inches). Experimental culture of rare or threatened fishes, such as round whitefish, lake sturgeon and paddlefish, also occurs here. Annual fish production is about 6,000 pounds.

Randolph Hatchery is located in the Village of Randolph in Cattaraugus County. This is a major brood stock facility which annually handles five to six million brook, brown and rainbow trout eggs. Annual production totals almost 100,000 pounds of fish.

Rome Hatchery is located in Oneida County about four miles north of the City of Rome. The hatchery is one of DEC’s largest, with annual production totaling nearly 160,000 pounds of brook, rainbow and brown trout. Hatchery staff play a major role in providing fish for airplane and helicopter stocking of remote waters.

Rome Fish Disease Control Center, also known as Rome Lab, is located on Rome Hatchery property. Staff maintain brood stock of disease-resistant strains of brook and brown trout, and maintain a laboratory where research activities and disease diagnosis can be conducted. Staff are heavily involved in testing numerous stocks of cultured and wild fish for the presence of parasites and pathogens.

Salmon River Hatchery, located in the Village of Altmar in Oswego County, is the mainstay of DEC’s stocking program for Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The hatchery attracts up to 500,000 visitors annually, many of whom come to watch egg collections from steelhead, coho salmon and chinook salmon returning to the hatchery. Annual fish production totals 120,000 pounds.

South Otselic Hatchery is located in Chenango County in the Village of South Otselic. The hatchery rears the entire statewide supply of tiger muskellunge, produces pond-reared walleye fingerlings, and rears small lots of wild, heritage-strain brook trout. Annual production is 15,000 pounds of fish.

VanHornesville Hatchery is located in southern Herkimer County in the Village of VanHornesville. The hatchery raises rainbow trout, with production totaling about 30,000 pounds.

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The goal of New York’s fish culture program is to operate a modern, efficient system of fish hatcheries that annually produce and stock a variety of disease free fish. In 2012, just over 875,000 lbs of fish were raised and stocked into approximately 1,200 waters. The number and species of fish stocked in 2012 can be found in the table below. In addition to the various sportfish species reared, DEC also raises and stocks lake sturgeon, paddlefish, round whitefish, and longear sunfish. These rare fish species were once native to New York State and an effort is currently underway to restore them to their native range.

Hatchery infrastructure improvements over the past year included the replacement of rearing troughs and pipelines at Catskill Hatchery, replacement of inside raceways at Chateaugay Hatchery, and the rehabilitation of earthen ponds at Randolph hatchery. One of these ponds is being used to rear longear sunfish.

ANNUAL STOCKING REPORT BY SPECIES (January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012)

SPECIES

Less Than 1″

1″ –4.24″

4.25″ –5.74″

5.75″ –6.74″

6.75″ –7.74″

7.75″ Plus

Total

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Number

Weight
(lbs.)

Cold Water

Brook Trout

700

0

73,258

1,524

77,010

2,976

400

64

157,085

44,330

308,453

48,894

Brown Trout

100

0

8,000

522

30,440

5,390

1,869,370

546,813

1,907,910

552,725

Rainbow Trout

52,210

602

56,000

3,602

3,200

368

13,500

1,929

357,710

101,988

482,620

108,489

Steelhead

66,000

0

337,020

3,637

650,850

28,575

91,800

8,795

1,145,670

41,007

Lake Trout

5,000

50

122,830

5,025

108,000

6,971

82,400

10,969

318,230

22,961

Splake

15,840

3,828

15,840

3,828

Landlocked Salmon

1,000

38

178,619

2,054

68,020

3,854

158,030

15,217

177,267

24,190

582,936

45,353

Coho

120,190

7,856

120,190

7,856

Chinook

67,100

0

1,443,980

20,552

1,511,080

20,552

Cold Water Total

134,900

38

2,090,087

28,419

1,102,900

52,410

361,030

31,297

221,607

31,573

2,482,405

707,928

6,392,929

851,665

Warm Water

Walleye

207,750,000

2,771

640,840

1,832

7,000

175

208,397,840

4,778

Muskellunge

64,510

51

30,790

2,559

95,300

2,610

Tiger Muskellunge

102,600

16,171

102,600

16,171

Panfish

500

100

500

100

Lake Sturgeon

337

15

500

23

837

38

Paddlefish

700

200

1,360

389

2,060

589

Warm Water Total

207,750,700

2,971

705,350

1,883

7,000

175

337

15

500

23

135,250

19,219

208,599,137

24,286

Grand Total

207,885,600

3,009

2,795,437

30,302

1,109,900

52,585

361,367

31,312

222,107

31,596

2,617,655

727,147

214,992,066

875,951

 

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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