Let’s face it; we live on an island where the population is growing by the day, and with a growing population comes more anglers. A great thing for the industry and health of the sport, but as far as access and options go, we need more of it to support the growing angler population—especially during the times of the year when the options are limited.
With the strict cod regulations imposed by the feds since the summer, making it tough for head boats to justify the trips and herring fishing reports becoming slim at best, options are limited during the winter months. Yeah, you can go to the local lakes and rivers and find some good fishing, but we all want that sure bet once in a while to rid ourselves of that cabin fever once and for all. One option that always remains viable for that is Connetquot State Park for fly fishing. Unfortunately, the park has a select number of spots, and it is first come, first serve once the reservation is made. I can’t expect a park with a limited number of spots and a large public fishing population on the island to sustain itself. Even in recent reports, I’ve been told the park is seeing a lot of use, and while this can be compared to the “old days” when fly fishermen used to line up at the gates hours before, we don’t all have the time for that.
Now, there is another park under states jurisdiction to the north of Connetquot called Caleb Smith State Park, which does have a fly fishing-only stream in it above White’s Pool (the beginning of the tidal portion) that is stocked through the year with rainbow and brown trout. The body of water also hosts a nice population of native brook trout. The river, also known as the Nissequogue, is located in the town of Smithtown. Its actual river begins at the Blydenburg spillway on the north end of the lake, and it empties out into the Long Island Sound in Kings Park.
April 1st through October 15th, it remains operational, but over the winter, it is closed. With this growing demand, I don’t see why this park can’t be open throughout the lksted closed months as another option for the public to take advantage of if. It gives those on the North Shore a closer option, and to be honest if you have ever been to the park before, it’s a beautiful place, just like Connetquot. Even if you do enjoy fishing the Connetquot, it would be nice to check out a different place once in a while, such as the Nissequogue. Having both of these places open during a rather slow time of the year would take pressure off just the one and create better angling opportunities for all to enjoy.
For those who did not know, I sit on a Fishing Advisory Board for NY State Parks. Typically the issues that we discuss revolve around the saltwater parks, but being that this is a fishing-related issue and it’s within a state park, it was put on a recent agenda for discussion. At this point in time, it’s a moot point since it will reopen at the beginning of April, but it surely will be a topic of discussion once again when we’re approaching the October 15th closure, it would be great to get this fantastic “offseason” option open to the public year-round.