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APRIL KICKS OFF SPRING FISHING

Fishing opportunities broaden considerably in the fourth and fifth months, as a host of inshore species, along with trout, put a bend in the rods of winter weary anglers.
By Fred Golofaro  |  March 27, 2017
APRIL KICKS OFF SPRING FISHING
The Belmont Lake Family Fishing Festival is fun for the whole family and a great place to introduce youngsters to fishing.

Turning the calendar to April also opens the door to a new season of angling opportunities for Long Island, Metro New York anglers. Flounder season opens this Saturday, April 1st, and trout season, while open year round on most waters, really kicks off with the Belmont Family Fishing Festival at Belmont Lake State Park in Babylon. Long Island lakes and streams have received their first allotment of stockies by then, and Belmont Lake is the beneficiary of a couple thousand of those trout, some of them two-year old browns, to ensure young attendees to the festival get the opportunity to connect with a few fish. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and is free of charge. Activities include open fishing, fishing instruction, fly casting demonstrations, and fish cleaning services. DEC and a number of local fishing clubs will have a display and demonstration area, and participants are urged to try their hand at fly casting. Loaner rods and free bait will be available to participants throughout the day. The supply of loaner rods is limited and participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing tackle if they have it.

Children’s activities also begin at 10 a.m. and include an inflatable slide (weather dependent), the “Spring Fling” casting contest, and hands-on educational displays by DEC’s Education Unit. Children participating in the casting contest will have a chance to win prizes supplied by DEC’s I FISH NY Program, OPRHP, the Fisherman Magazine, and The Natural Heritage Trust.

This event will be held rain or shine. Call I FISH NY at (631) 444-0283 or Belmont Lake State Park at (631) 667-5055 for more information. A vehicle use fee of $8 will be in effect. Parking is free for Empire Pass holders. The 2017 Empire Pass can be purchased at state park offices, online at nysparks.com or by phone at (518) 474-0458.

For more information about the festival, call I FISH NY at (631) 444-0283 or visit DEC’s website at dec.ny.gov.

For information about freshwater fishing on Long Island or the spring trout stocking program in Nassau and Suffolk counties, call the DEC Bureau of Fisheries at (631) 444-0280, e-mail fwfish1@dec.ny.gov or visit dec.ny.gov.

For those looking to target flounder this weekend, regulations remain unchanged from last season with a 12-inch minimum size and two fish bag in effect. The season runs from April 1 to May 30. Check with your local tackle shop to make sure they have bait and chum available. If you are looking for an open boat to start the season, we do know that at least one Captree boat, the Island Princess, is planning to sail for flounder starting Saturday. For shore based anglers, the Shinnecock and Quogue canals are worth a shot, along with some mainland docks along the South Shore as the flatties tend to congregate deep into the bays during the early part of the season. Piers and banks inside North Shore harbors are also worth a shot during this part of the season. And if you have trouble finding blood or sandworms in your area, don’t hesitate to give nightcrawlers a try. They are effective on flounder and most tackle shops stock them for trout fishermen.

Striped bass season officially opens up on Saturday, April 15th in the Marine District, but you can practice catch and release fishing for bass prior to the opening. Striper regulations also remain the same as last season with a 28-inch minimum size limit and one fish per day bag limit. If you fish the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge, the season there opens this Saturday with a bag limit of one fish between 18 inches and 28 inches, or one fish over 40 inches.

Let’s hope weakfish show up in the bays this spring. There is no season but there is a one fish bag limit and a minimum size of 16 inches. Don’t overlook mainland creeks draining into the South Shore Bays and Peconic Bay from late April through mid-May. If bait is present and the weakfish show up, these areas can be surprisingly productive.

Porgies (scup) are next on the spring calendar. The season opens on May 1st and everyone expects they will be as plentiful and ravenous as they have been the past few seasons. May is prime time for the Peconic Bay run and there is the added bonus of some weakfish and bluefish mixing in with the scup.

Everyone is holding their breath on this season’s fluke regulations. A three fish bag and 19-inch minimum size limit with a season similar to last year (Option 5) appears to be the front runner but there is also a slim chance for status quo which would leave the regs unchanged from last year, or a worst case scenario of three fish at 19 inches but with a shorter season that could run something like Memorial Day to Labor Day.

And don’t forget bluefish. They have been showing up early in recent years, on a few occasions flooding into South Shore inlets as early as the last week of April and providing solid action through most of May for boatmen and surfcasters. Let’s hope that is the case this spring.

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