Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York’s traditional harvest season for black bass, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, opens Saturday, June 15, and will run until November 30.
New York’s sport fishing industry generates an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity each year.
“New York is home to some of the country’s best bass fishing, attracting anglers from all across the globe to fish in our waters,” Governor Cuomo said. “Great bass angling opportunities can be found throughout the state in our 7,500 lakes and ponds and 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, and I encourage everyone to enjoy all New York’s great outdoors have to offer this fishing season.”
A catch-and-release season exists for most of the state from December 1 until the day before the traditional opener. Variations in season, minimum length and daily limits exist for some waters, and anglers are encouraged to check the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s current fishing regulations guide before heading out to fish.
New York is home to a number of nationally recognized bass fisheries, including six of the top 25 “Best Bass Lakes” in the Northeast in 2018, according to Bassmaster Magazine. This includes the St. Lawrence River (Thousand Islands) ranking No. 2, Lake Erie No. 3, Lake Champlain No. 5, Oneida Lake No. 12, Cayuga Lake No. 13, and Chautauqua Lake No. 23.
All of these waters provide exceptional bass fishing opportunities, but anglers have many other options and don’t have to travel far from home to find a honey hole. Black bass are widely distributed in waters throughout the state and there are lots of great places to fish for them. In addition, big bass can be caught in waters of all sizes, even in local ponds. Over the last decade, DEC fisheries biologists collected almost 200 bass more than 20 inches in length during fish population assessments from many waters, including ponds as small as 10 acres.
The DEC Bureau of Fisheries recognizes catches of big sportfish through the Angler Achievement Awards program. Largemouth bass 20 inches or more and smallmouth bass 18 inches or more qualify for awards in the Catch and Release Category. Last year, 23 largemouth bass up to 23.5 inches and 45 smallmouth bass up to 22.5 inches were entered. Anglers are encouraged to contact DEC if they catch a big bass this year.