Area anglers will have more chances to fish without a license, thanks to a bill expanding the state's offerings of free fishing clinics.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed legislation increasing the number of free fishing clinics in New York state.

"This new law will allow more New Yorkers to take advantage of free fishing clinics, so our young people and other outdoor enthusiasts can get learn to fish without having to purchase a license," Cuomo said in a media release. "Fishing is both a fun, outdoor activity, and an economic generator for communities across the state. I thank the bill sponsors for their leadership in helping this bill become law."

Previously, the Department of Environmental Conservation was permitted to conduct four fishing clinics per year in each of the DEC's nine regions. Additionally, DEC employees were required to provide at least some of the instruction at each clinic.

The law signed Thursday by the governor permits the DEC to hold more clinics, and also allows other entities to conduct fishing clinics with DEC authorization. By allowing additional free sport fishing clinics, the law is designed to promote participation in recreational angling across New York state.

Many local sporting federations and recreational groups run similar fishing clinics. The city of Oneonta's 55th annual fishing derby, a catch-and-release competition, is scheduled for Aug. 11. The event is presented by the city's Recreation Department in cooperation with the Susquehanna Bass Association. The youth event is open to children ages 5 to 15 with parent permission. More information is available from the Recreation Department at 432-0680.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said the idea to expand the state fishing clinics came from the support of the DEC and the Dansville Fish and Game Club.

"Because of their efforts, and Gov. Cuomo's support, countless people statewide will be introduced to the joy of fishing, connect with nature, and spend quality family time together," Young said in the release.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens praised the legislation, saying: "By increasing the number of these popular events, even more New Yorkers and visitors will be able to enjoy their first-time fishing experience on the state's abundant waterways. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this new law."

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