WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – April 1 is the day that anglers are officially allowed to fish the streams of Westchester County.
As local resident Jack Stewart, author of the "Southern New York Fishing Directory" described it, “Opening day’s a real tradition. People come out of the woodwork. They’ll be there at the first light of morning. A lot of people take the day off from work to come. Some people fish only once a year on Opening Day."
The trout-fishing season opens annually April 1 and generally runs until Oct. 15. The good news this year is that the water is fairly low because there has not been much rain, Stewart said. “It’s harder to fish in higher water because the water gets murky and you can’t get the lures just right,” he said. “Now you can wade into the streams and rivers.”
The bad news is that the water temperature is about 38 or 39 degrees, said Stewart. “Fish are more active when the water is between 40 and 50.”
Every year, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) introduces about a million pounds of young trout, called “stockies,” into streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. Some of them eventually reach the reservoirs, where they may grow to be as large as 12 or 14 pounds.
Adam Bosch of the Department of Environmental Protection said that the DEC stocks brown trout primarily and sometimes rainbow trout. Fishermen may also encounter lake trout, though, because it is the native population in the reservoirs and those fish sometimes end up in the streams.
Unlike the streams, fishing is permitted in the reservoirs year round. “Two weeks ago, Tony Montero got a 31-inch brown trout, over 12 pounds, at the Croton Falls Reservoir and Pat McGuire of Mount Kisco got a 5-pound rainbow trout at the Croton Reservoir while he was actually fishing for crappie,” said Stewart.
Bosch agreed that Croton Falls Reservoir is one of the best spots around for fishermen. “It has a large population of forage fish.” Forage fish are bait for larger fish.
As for the weather on Opening Day, Bosch said, “Most people pray for an overcast day because if there’s sun, then there’s shadow, and the fish jet away from shadows.”
For more information about Westchester's freshwater fishing, go to the DEC website.
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