Fishing license sales steady

Albany — New York fishing license sales have weathered the storm this year, so to speak.

Despite wet weather virtually across the state, fishing license sales through early July were relatively unchanged from the 2011-12 license year – down by just 1.4 percent.

“Even with the weather we’ve been ‘enjoying’ to date, fishing license sales have more than held their own,” said DEC assistant director of fish, wildlife and marine resources Doug Stang.

DEC statistics – from the department’s DECALS licensing system – showed 2012-13 fishing license sales were at 736,634 as of July 3, compared to 747,023 through the same period of a year ago.

Stang said the decline is statistically insignificant, especially so given the steady rains the state has seen through the spring and much of the summer.

“I would suggest there really is no difference in sales this year compared to last year,” he said.

Too, the number of fishing license “holders” – which includes hunters who have purchased sportsman and super sportsman licenses and others that include fishing privileges – is up from the 2011-12 license year, according to DECALS figures.

Thus far in 2012-13, there were 791,675 resident fishing license holders as of earlier this month. That number is up from 766,027 in 2011-12 but slightly below the 2010-11 tally of 795,441.

Nonresident fishing license holders stood at 149,174 thus far in 2012-13. That figure is above both the 2010-11 (146,019) and 2011-12 (141,957) numbers.

The license sales figures were good news for DEC officials, especially given the soaking rains that began in spring and have carried into the first half of the summer across New York.

“The river has been the highest I’ve ever seen in June and July,” said Evan Bottcher, owner of the Hungry Trout Fly Shop on the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington (Essex County). “But the fishing has also been the best I’ve seen in years – just incredible. And the flows have been helpful.”

Bottcher said many anglers were hiring guides for fishing the river given the high water conditions. “They don’t know how to fish the big water and they need a little help,” he said.

In Orleans County, tourism officials are poised for a busy summer, buoyed by the recent announcement by the World Fishing Network that Point Breeze won the network’s “Ultimate Fishing Town” contest, an online voting effort that netted the town $25,000 from WFN.

Orleans County sportfishing coordinator Mike Waterhouse said June on Lake Ontario is typically a bit slower than July and August as far as fishing activity.

“Things generally start picking up after the Fourth of July. And July and August is when things start going like crazy,” he said.

From a sporting standpoint, New York state is best known for its quality fishing, which ranges from a pair of Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) to the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, New York City reservoir system and the storied Catskill trout streams, as well as the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and Oneida Lake.

Too, the state also offers top-notch saltwater fishing in the lower Hudson River and on Long Island. There, anglers can fish for free; only a marine registry is required at no cost to the angler.

DEC officials say additional fishing license sales – mostly 1- and 7-day licenses – are sold in the fall to anglers visiting Lake Ontario and the Salmon River and other tributaries for the legendary salmon run. The sporting license year ends Sept. 30.

While licenses are currently sold for the license year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30), that will change next February for fishing licenses, which will be good for one year from the date of purchase. That could boost license sales, since some prospective anglers may be hesitant to buy a fishing license late in the license year.

That change is part of a restructuring set to take effect next February.

The restructuring also reduces several license fees, including the price of a resident fishing license, which will drop from $29 to $25.

Nonresident fishing licenses will go from the current $70 down to $50, and a one-day fishing license will be reduced from the current $15 to $10.

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