First free fishing weekend of 2020 happening soon

Around New York State

(WIVB) — New York’s first free fishing weekend of 2020 is just a few days away.

On February 15 and 16, those looking to fish anywhere in the state can do so without a license.

“This is a great time of year for families and novice anglers to try ice fishing as a new outdoor activity,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos says. “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.”

Free fishing days began in 1991, and several more are planned for this year. It gives people who may not fish regularly, or at all, a chance to try it out, free of charge.

Here are the rest of 2020’s free fishing days:

  • June 27-28
  • September 26
  • November 11

Each year in New York, freshwater fishing brings in an estimated $2.14 billion in economic activity. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says it also helps support nearly 11,000 jobs.

“New York is home to hundreds of lakes, streams and rivers, allowing amateur and expert anglers alike to get outdoors and experience the world-class fishing we have to offer, as well as the communities that host them,” Governor 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.”

During the colder months, ice fishing becomes a popular sport. Anglers commonly use baitfish, and are reminded of the following steps to follow while on the ice:

  • Follow the baitfish regulations to prevent the spread of harmful fish diseases and invasive species;
  • Use only certified disease-free baitfish purchased at a local tackle store or use only personally collected baitfish for use in the same waterbody in which they were caught;
  • Do not reuse baitfish in another waterbody if you have replaced the water they were purchased in; and
  • Dump unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.

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