DEP Offers Pointers for Fishing Season

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As New Yorkers mark the beginning of trout fishing season, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages anglers to cast a line at its reservoirs or at dozens of properties that include frontage along streams, rivers and lakes throughout the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley.

New York City’s water supply features some of the best trout fishing in the Northeast. Its 22 reservoir and lakes, covering roughly 36,000 acres, are open for fishing from shore or approved boats. Most of the reservoirs include deep water that is ideal for coldwater species such as trout, and habitat suitable for bass and other warmwater species. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation outlines statewide fishing regulations, including information on licenses, catch limits, and stocking, on itswebsite. Those fishing on the City’s reservoirs must also have a free DEP Access Permit.

“Thousands of anglers each year visit New York City’s reservoirs, which offer world-class fishing amid the scenic beauty of the Catskills and Hudson Valley,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “The anglers are great stewards of our natural resources, and they deserve credit for collaborating with DEP on projects that keep our waterways clean for future generations. We look forward to working with them on projects in the future, and on improving the breadth and ease of fishing access across the watershed.”

Before you grab for the rod and reel, here are five bits of helpful information about fishing on New York City’s water supply lands and reservoirs:

1) Find your species of choice. The reservoir system is home to many species of fish that are coveted by anglers, but some reservoirs include better habitat for one species or another. DEP has compiled a handy fishing brochure for anglers to know which species are located at each reservoir, and whether the fishing for each is fair, good or excellent. The brochure can be found on the DEP website.

2) Find the deepest, coldest water. Some of the best trout fishing on New York City’s reservoirs happens where the water is coldest and deepest. Other species are best found in the shallows. DEP provides angler maps that show the depth contours in each of our reservoirs.

3) Rent a boat for access to deeper water. Four of New York City’s reservoirs in the Catskills – Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink and Schoharie – allow the use of kayaks and canoes starting each year on Memorial Day weekend. Local businesses also rent pre-cleaned boats at each of these reservoirs, making it easy for anyone to access the reservoirs. Rental boats are also a great option for anglers, who might not own a boat, to access some of the deeper water at these reservoirs.

4) Fishing abounds on streams, rivers and lakes. Great fishing can be found beyond the reservoirs. New York City owns more than 200 miles of frontage along streams, creeks and rivers throughout the watershed. Many of these spots are excellent for fishing off the beaten path. Some water supply lands also include lakes or ponds that are suitable for fishing. DEP has created an interactive map – known as the RecMapper – to help outdoor enthusiasts find these points of access throughout the watershed. Anglers can use the digital map to zoom in to each property, find waterbodies, and print driving directions. The RecMapper can be found at

5) Look toward the tailwaters. Some of the best fishing is found just beyond the dams that form New York City’s reservoirs. DEP releases water from almost all its reservoirs on an ongoing basis. This water that’s released downstream of our dams – commonly referred to as “tailwaters” – creates conditions for excellent fishing. The tailwaters usually include public access points, many of which are operated and maintained by the state.

Fishing on all city-owned reservoirs and lakes, along with some recreation units along streams and creeks, requires a free DEP Access Permit. An access permit can be obtained through DEP’s online permitting system, found at gov/dep/accesspermit. Those who want to use rowboats on the reservoirs must also register their boat with DEP, have it steam cleaned, and affix a valid boat tag to the side of the boat. Those with questions about permitting and boat tags may email or call (800) 575- LAND. Those fishing on streams that run across water supply lands should carefully check signs in those recreation units to determine whether a permit is required.


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