The fishing is free this weekend, the first of several Free Fishing Weekends planned in New York state in 2020.
Residents don’t need a license to fish on Saturday and Sunday.
In announcing the Free Fishing Weekend, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, “With free fishing this weekend, I encourage residents and our out-of-state neighbors to pack a tackle box and a cooler, grab a fishing pole, and head out to have some fun with a pastime that I and so many of our fellow New Yorkers enjoy.”
The free fishing days program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost, introduce people to a new hobby, and encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Many schools are on mid-winter recess next week, so we selected Presidents’ Day weekend as the first of several free fishing opportunities planned in New York to coincide with a time when anglers of all abilities are able to fish this winter.”
Anglers are reminded to put safety first when ice fishing. This is particularly important during periods of freezing and thawing that most areas of New York have been experiencing lately.
Four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. However, ice thickness can vary on every waterbody or even within the same waterbody. Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions.
Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can easily be done with an auger or ice spud at various spots.