In New York State, the inland trout and landlocked salmon seasons open on April 1. This is a special day in the outdoor arena from an angler’s standpoint, on par with the opening of bass, walleye and musky seasons to name but a few. However, with the fact that Great Lakes tributaries have open trout fishing opportunities through the fall, winter and spring, the inland opener has lost a little of its luster. One of the things that has helped the state raise the level of enthusiasm, though, has been the many fish stocking programs – giving enthusiasts more fish to catch in places that may have never seen a certain species before.
More important than the season opener, is where and when the fish are actually going to be stocked! One case in point is the stocking of trout in waters like Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield, New York and Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, New York. Even the outflow of Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek, receives healthy fish stockings in April to allow for some inner city opportunities for trout where casual anglers have never seen them before. Trout stockings normally take place by the second week in April for these small inner city waters, after the opening day frenzy that sees many fly casters and worm dunkers alike sharing the most popular waters in New York’s favorite trout areas.
The purists of the sport may head to areas that do not receive supplemental plants of fish. Those are the areas that support native populations of trout, sustained through natural reproduction. Those fish can offer a bit more of a challenge. It all depends what your preference is. The important thing is that people are fishing and enjoying the great outdoors in a manner that is fun and satisfying.
New York is blessed with some fantastic inland trout waters. The Catskill and Adirondack regions have world renowned reputations. That said, there are other trout haunts within the Empire State and one of the best ways to take a short cut to find out where those secret spots are is through reading. A recent book penned by friend and fellow outdoor scribe J. Michael Kelly of Marcellus, New York, entitled “Trout Streams of Central New York” (www.burfordbooks.com), offers up his own personal trout insights – a treasure chest of angling information to anyone who wants to target trout. It comes highly recommended for novice and veteran anglers alike. I can’t wait to sample a few! His words are like the aroma wafting from a favorite restaurant, it gets your inner juices flowing for a taste.
Getting back to the stocking scene, hatchery trucks will be hitting the streams and small lakes a week or two before the start of the season in late March, allowing the fish to become acclimated for opening day excitement. In many cases, fish are stocked well into the season. New York actually started the whole stocking craze back over 150 years ago with the opening of the Caledonia fish factory in 1864. It still functions today, one of 12 facilities the state operates for annual stockings. Check out the NYSDEC website at www.dec.ny.gov for a complete list of stocking dates, numbers and locations. Grab a rod and get out there!