Trout and Steelhead Season Opens April 1

By Ed Racich

Fishing: The activity of trying to catch fish. Techniques include hand gathering (better be really quick), spearing, netting, trapping and angling. It’s an ancient practice dating back more than 40,000 years from man’s days as a hunter-gatherer, where fishing was a major source for providing food, to today’s mode of fishing as a way to relax or provide sport.

Western New York provides some of the nation’s best fishing for trout, steelhead, bass, pan fish, bluegills and other freshwater fish. Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties alone offer 34 stocked trout streams, 18 more wild trout streams, and 14 lakes and ponds, all open to the public, and all within 30-45 minutes driving time from Ellicottville. Maps of these locations are available free and online from the Department of Environmental Conservation. An annual fishing license can be purchased by anyone, 16 years old and older, for $29.

Best WNY steelhead fishing runs from March through May, each spring. Streams are full of fresh fish and ones that have completed spawning and are dropping back to the lake where they’ll spend the summer. These fish are hungry, very aggressive and are excellent fighters. They’re not only great fun to catch but are found in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

In stocked streams, most bridges receive trout yearlings at every stocking, usually once or twice per year in the spring. The 18 areas designated by the DEC’s Region 9 office as wild trout streams receive no stocking and are supported wholly by wild trout populations. These areas urge fishermen to practice careful catch-and-release on all trout caught in these waters, so as not to overharvest them. Doing so will ensure your and other anglers’ fishing in future years. After all, what have you got against fish, right?

Have you ever wondered why you need a license to do some of your favorite outdoor activities? Western New York fishing requires licensing provided either by the State of New York or by the local Indian nations, primarily because it requires careful management of resources to strike a balance between supply and demand.

According to the New York Department of Wildlife and Conservation, “uncontrolled taking of fish … can cause the demise of a species.” Statistical data and habitat studies can provide the public with the best advice on how to enjoy their sport and still control their activities in order to provide resources for the future. In New York state, licensing is an efficient way to do just that — a very small price to pay for good management of your sport.

Many guide services, which have spent years exploring and fishing our streams, are available to provide productive, informative and enjoyable days on the water. They strive to teach guests the proper fishing techniques used to catch these fish, how to hook them, fight and land them, and how to properly release them.

Jon Rick, a local guide said, “It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, you can always learn a new trick.”

Catching a fish in beautiful, unspoiled surroundings is an experience you don’t want to miss. Western New York has many wild, secluded streams where you can fish in solitude and enjoy nature. You may even catch a glimpse of Bald Eagles, deer, turkey and fox while fishing near an old-growth forest.

So plan your next fishing trip to Western New York. You’ll be happy you did.

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