Muskie season is underway

Eric Engbretson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via WikiMedia Commons Muskellunge

ALBANY — The statewide fishing season for muskellunge is underway in most locations.

The muskellunge season for New York’s Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River, Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River opens on June 20.

“Storied New York waters like Chautauqua Lake and the Upper Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers produce some of the nation’s best muskie fishing opportunities,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos of the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a news release. “Muskies are apex predators that can grow to great sizes and the patient angler may be rewarded with a real trophy. We encourage New York anglers to get out on the water safely and responsibly practicing social distancing during the State’s response to COVID-19.”

Muskies are the largest freshwater sportfish in New York state, sometimes reaching weights of 50 pounds or more. The statewide minimum size limit for muskellunge is 40 inches and the minimum size limit in Great Lakes waters is 54 inches.

Anglers are encouraged to review the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide on DEC’s website for more information.

Referred to in angling lore as “the fish of 10,000 casts,” muskies put up quite a fight once hooked. Their huge size and unpredictable nature have always been challenging, but the potential to hook into one has proven irresistible to many an accomplished angler.

Muskellunge management in New York entails habitat protection and enhancement, research and monitoring, stocking, and fishing regulations. At least 13 lakes and 19 rivers have muskellunge populations in New York State.

The St. Lawrence River, Upper Niagara River, and Chautauqua Lake are New York’s most renowned muskie hotspots. Other quality muskie waters are Waneta, Greenwood, Bear, and Cassadaga lakes, and the Susquehanna, Chenango, and Great Chazy rivers.

For tips on how to catch muskies, read DEC’s Muskie 101 web page. Chautauqua Lake is the source for DEC’s muskie stocking program. DEC’s Chautauqua Hatchery will raise approximately 26,000 fall fingerlings from eggs collected earlier this spring, which will be stocked into 16 waters across New York.

New York State is encouraging people to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. DEC recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Use the DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures. For more information about engaging in responsible recreation this summer, visit DEC’s website.

The DEC reminds anglers to maintain safe social distancing while fishing this year to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Guidelines to protect yourself and others include:

n Fish local — Stay close to home. Keep your fishing trip short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.

n Be safe — Avoid crowds and groups. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others. When fishing from a boat, make sure it’s large enough so persons on board are at least six feet from one another.

n Stay home — If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their trip.

n Be adaptive — Move quickly through parking lots and paths. If crowded, choose a different fishing location, or time to visit.

Anglers fishing from boats should be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another.

For more information on boating guidelines and safety, go to State Parks website and DEC’s website.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1