By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — Neither rain nor cold may stop a dedicated angler from wetting a line today, the first day of trout fishing season.
Brad Decker, assistant manager of Sportsman Adventures in Oneonta, said the store is stocked with worms, night crawlers and salted and live minnows, and he has heard from anglers who are excited about wetting their lines. Rivers and creeks aren’t frozen, he said, and the lure of the catch beckons.
“It’s just excitement all the way around,’’ he said. “We’re stocked — we’re ready to go.’’
The National Weather Service in Binghamton forecast for the Oneonta area includes a 50 percent chance of precipitation, with temperatures reaching a lower 40-degree mark, then becoming colder.
High, cold water, plus icy banks and streambeds, are likely conditions today, which could make for a dangerous early season angling, Joe Martens, Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, said in a media release.
“Although opening day conditions may be less than ideal for fishing in most sections of the state, the urge to wet a line and look forward to spring is more than enough reason to draw anglers to their nearest stream or pond,” Martens said.
The governor is joining the DEC in promoting the opening of trout and salmon fishing today. The DEC plans to stock waters this spring to enhancing fishing opportunities for this and future years, a media release said.
At Mac’s Barber Shop in Oneonta, talk of politics and religion isn’t allowed, Frank “Mac’’ Microni, said Thursday. But there isn’t any limit to talk of hunting and fishing, he said, and many tales have been told.
But these days, anglers are upset because they aren’t catching any fish, he said. There seem to be fewer, skinnier fish, his customers said, and too many restrictions and not enough stocking, with licensing costs that are discouraging. Locally, angers said they no longer can get to favorite fishing sites because properties are posted against access, he said.
Though fishing isn’t what it used to be in some ways, angling overall is a chance to “go out and forget everything for 10 hours,’’ according to Microni, who said his preference is bass fishing.
“That’s my therapy,’’ he said. “Any kind of fishing is good.’’
Anyone 16 years of age and older who wishes to fish in New York state must have a license. However, the state is promoting free fishing days and programs across the state this year in addition to New York’s Free Fishing Days, June 29 to 30, when any resident or non-resident may fish marine or freshwaters without a fishing license or enrolling in the recreational marine fishing registry, according to a media release from the governor’s office.
According to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, in 2011, New York state was second in the nation in total angler spending on fishing-related items and sixth in non-residential angler spending, the governor’s office said. This spending generated an estimated $108 million in state and local taxes.
New York issues almost 2 million fishing licenses, and this year, the DEC estimates it will stock as much as 900,000 pounds of fish in lakes and other waterways across the state.
Early season trout typically are lethargic, the DEC said, and anglers will have best success using bait and lures such as spinners that can be fished slow and deep. Fishing will improve markedly after water temperatures warm later in the spring. Trout season continues through Oct. 15.
In the local DEC Region 4, which includes Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties, the hot, dry conditions of last summer hindered the ability of trout populations to rebound from the tropical storms that hit the area in 2011, the DEC said, though stocking canceled last year because of storm damage will be resumed.
Projects are being developed to re-establish quality trout habitat in many streams in Schoharie and Greene counties damaged by the storms, the state said.
The West Branch Delaware River downstream of the Cannonsville Reservoir remains Region 4’s best wild trout stream and is one of the top-ranked streams in the state, the DEC said. The DEC website has more information about conditions, fishing regulations and public access fishing sites.