By Terrence P Ward
If you’re itching to tie one on—a lure, that is—and you’re casting about for some healthy trout, DEC wildlife specialists have got your back. Starting in April and continuing through June, they are planning on stocking local waters with nearly 70,000 of the fish to ensure satisfaction for all anglers who care to obtain a license and try their skill. The vast majority released this year will be brown trout, but some rainbows were due to be stocked in the Rondout Creek in Wawarsing, if that’s more to your taste.
Fishing licenses, which can be purchased online, by phone, or through any of a number of authorized agents, cost $25 a year for any state resident 16 and older (higher fees apply for out-of-staters), and drops to just $5 at age 70. One-day, week-long, and lifetime licenses are also available. For those who are simply curious about what fishing’s like, there’s a free fishing weekend June 25-26, when no license whatsoever is required. That’s a good time to convince the seasoned fisherman you know to lend you a rod and reel and show you what exactly it is that’s so alluring about sitting on shore or in a boat, at all hours of the day and in all weather. While you might not be able to learn the location of that one secret fishing spot that always yields a catch, you might be able to coax out a story or two about Ol’ Snaggletooth.
Whether you’re fishing with a license or during a free weekend, it’s important to understand the regulations. The DEC website (dec.gov) has up-to-date information on all the rules, including the special ones by county. In Ulster County, those include special seasons for certain types of fish in certain locations. Since the Ashokan Reservoir is owned by the City of New York, that municipality’s rules also apply to fishing there, so it’s worth spending some time understanding the specifics for whatever sport you’re angling to visit. The DEC site also provides links to information about known fishing locations and fishing guides, making it all the more valuable to check out before planning your trip.
There are many types of fish in the county to focus on—beyond the ones that are stocked, including perch, walleye, and a variety of panfish. Baiting a hook is certainly one way to go about it, but remember that the Ulster County website asserts, “The westernmost portion of the County is often referred to as the ‘birthplace of American fly-fishing’ because of the pristine headwaters of the Neversink, Beaverkill, Rondout, and Esopus creeks.” With that kind of history, it’s reasonable to assume that there’s also quite a bit of expertise nearby, fishermen who are willing to teach the skills necessary for this highly challenging and satisfying method of catching the big one. Even if they’d rather just show off a bit, it may be possible to pick up some valuable tips.
Spend some time around experienced anglers and you might learn a thing or two about where to fish, how to tie a fly, or even find out if they’ve tried to catch Ol’ Snaggletooth. If they get to that last, rest assured it’s going to be one of the best fish tales you’ve heard in awhile.