(WNY News Now) – New York is set to honor veterans and anglers of all skill levels on the final Free Fishing Day of 2023, taking place on Saturday, November 11. During this special event, the state waives freshwater fishing license requirements, providing the perfect opportunity for everyone to experience the joy of fishing in the Empire State’s pristine waterways.
New York – New York will pay tribute to veterans and fishing enthusiasts on Saturday, November 11, as it hosts the sixth and final Free Fishing Day of 2023. This event, established to promote the love of fishing and the state’s natural beauty, offers a unique opportunity for people of all skill levels to enjoy a day of angling without the need for a freshwater fishing license.
“Fishing is regarded as one of the most therapeutic outdoor activities, making it a perfect pastime for veterans, those currently serving in the military, and all New Yorkers looking to get outside and enjoy nature,” stated Governor Hochul. “The Empire State is home to some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities in the world, and on Free Fishing Day, we waive the fees for anglers of all skill levels and abilities to explore our abundant lakes, rivers, and ponds.”
The Free Fishing Days program in New York was initiated in 1991 with the aim of introducing individuals to the sport of fishing at no cost and encouraging them to explore a new hobby. During these designated days, both residents and non-residents are allowed to fish in freshwater without the need for a fishing license. It’s important to note that while no license is required on Free Fishing Days, all other freshwater fishing regulations remain in effect.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos expressed his appreciation for the opportunity provided to veterans and active military personnel. “DEC and our partners are honored to extend this opportunity for New York’s veterans and active military personnel to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family on Free Fishing Day this Saturday, November 11,” Seggos said. “I deeply appreciate all of those who have defended our nation’s democracy and freedoms, and Free Fishing Day is a perfect time to cast a line and enjoy the stellar fishing opportunities New York State has to offer.”
Beyond Free Fishing Days, New York offers additional opportunities for veterans and active-duty military members to fish for free or at a reduced cost. Eligible active-duty military members and resident veterans with a service-related disability of 40 percent or more can obtain free or reduced-fee fishing licenses.
This past weekend, the Department of Environmental Conservation hosted its 16th annual Veteran Fly Fishing event, an innovative therapeutic outdoor recreation opportunity for veterans. During this event, veterans were given the chance to catch and release steelhead on a private section of the Salmon River, thanks to a partnership between the DEC, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), and CompeerCORPS Rochester. PHWFF is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled veterans and active military service personnel through fly fishing and education about fly tying and rod building. CompeerCORPS focuses on providing healing friendship to community members living with mental health challenges, while also working to reduce the stigma around mental health conditions.
For photos from this year’s event, you can visit this link, and video coverage from the 2022 event is available on DEC’s YouTube page here.
To find a suitable fishing spot on Veterans Day, you can explore popular locations statewide on DEC’s Places to Fish site or use the DECinfo Locator Interactive Map. Additionally, the HuntFishNY mobile app provides the latest Tackle Box feature, which lists fishing spots, parking information, boat launches, and more.
As for the fishing prospects, late fall and early winter offer excellent opportunities in New York. The state’s Great Lakes tributaries are teeming with Pacific salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Across the state, there’s a catch-and-release fishing season for trout in inland streams, and tiger muskellunge and muskellunge fishing can also be particularly rewarding during this season. It’s worth noting that the muskellunge season closes on November 30 for inland waters and December 15 for Great Lakes waters. If you plan to fish in western or central New York, be sure to check out the weekly fishing hotline reports for the latest information on what’s biting.