Trout Season is Back!

Mark Rauh and buddy VIP Fishing Day 2016.
Picture credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau & Cindy Abersold Ferraro.

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

The fish are really jumpin’… it’s trout season again.

The Randolph Fish Hatchery, one of only 12 across the State of New York that produce more than 1,000,000 pounds of live fish every year, once again released nearly 40,000 yearling brown, brook and rainbow trout into area streams and ponds. That’s more than enough to turn any sunny afternoon into just the right kind of pick-me-up for thousands of anglers across the region.

Where to Drop a Hook 40 to 50 of the Best Fishing Spots:

Within 10 miles of Jamestown, NY: http://www.hookandbullet.com/c/fishing-jamestown-ny/
Within 10 miles of Warren, PA: http://www.hookandbullet.com/c/fishing-warren-pa/
Within 10 miles of Randolph, NY: http://www.hookandbullet.com/c/fishing-randolph-ny/

Clear Creek in Ellington has already served up one fighting 20-incher to an early spring angler according to fisheries staff. It was a wild brown trout, the kind that stream is now a natural home to. “We don’t even have to stock Clear Creek anymore,” said fishery biologist, Scott Cornett, “they’ve taken over on their own. But we’ve stocked plenty of big ones in other streams this year, too.”

Even though April 1 – April 15 south of the NY/PA border – is the traditional opening day of trout season, that is only the season opener for stocked trout. Wild trout can be caught legally all year long in any stream, pond and lake where they naturally thrive on their own.

This year’s stocking was delayed a few days due to inclement weather and water conditions, but according to local anglers, their first catch was worth the wait. “The good news,” according to Cornett, “is that nobody catches them all the first day. The fishing will be good all spring.”

Picture credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau & Cindy Abersold Ferraro.

Catch and Release
A couple of trout fishers encountered along Goose Creek last week said the popular “catch and release” strategy most fishers use now means that some fish get bigger all season long, especially the ones smart enough to not take the same bait twice. Catch and release can make the next catch even better.

“I never keep more than I can eat today,” another trout angler said. “They’re so much better fresh, right in the pan with a little salt and butter. If you take a few home for your freezer, you might as well just go down to the market and quit fishing. By the time you freeze your catch, they’re no better than the frozen ones in the store.”

About Public Fishing Rights

Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) are permanent easements purchased by the NYSDEC from willing landowners, giving anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank (usually a 33’ strip on one or both banks of the stream). This right is for the purpose of fishing only and no other purpose. Treat the land with respect to insure the continuation of this right and privilege. Fishing privileges may be available on some other private lands with permission of the land owner. Courtesy toward the land-owner and respect for their property will insure their continued use.

Thousands Served
“We sell at least 2,000 to 3,000 fishing licenses here every year,” said Skip Bianco, the “Bait Guy” at Hogan’s Hut in Stowe. “We’re right in the middle of the lake, near a lot of the best spots,” he added. “And we sell lots of bait and tackle, too. Fishing is alive and well around here.”

Though the fishing and hunting license business varies from year to year, according to Bruce Piatz, owner of Jamestown’s M&M Sports Den, “Some years the line has been 20 yards long outside my door when I get to work on opening day.”

Trout anglers are estimated to top $3.5 million in economic impact across the Southern Tier tri-county region every spring, with an additional $200,000 or more spent by out-of-staters who don’t know the best local fishing holes and streams and hire local fishing guides to improve their chances.

Sometimes it’s bass!
Picture credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau & Cindy Abersold Ferraro.

Spring Trout Stocking
According to fishery biologist, Scott Cornett, many popular trout streams also get stocked with two-year-old brown trout as big as 15 inches, and occasionally a few of the older breeding stock that can approach 24 inches.

Among locally stocked streams, Goose Creek in the Village of Ashville, at the southern end of Chautauqua Lake which it feeds, is one of the most popular among serious pan fishers.

Goose Creek offers 5.5 miles of public fishing easements. (Anglers are urged to see the DEC notice above about these fishing grounds) Every spring, 9.5 miles of Goose Creek, from Ashville to near the North Harmony State Forest, is stocked with 1,150 yearling brown trout, 1,050 yearling brook trout and 400 two-year-old brown trout. In recent years a small population of wild brown trout has also established itself in the middle miles of the stream. Goose Creek is open to trout fishing all year, any size, with a daily limit of 5 per person, but with a limit of 2 over 12 inches.

Altogether, Chautauqua County regularly stocks at least eight popular waterways. See this list above. Anglers can also call the Randolph Hatchery Fish Stocking Hotline, (716) 358-4950, to learn more about these and other locations and to check for weekly stocking updates. Licenses can be purchased online at: https://decals.dec.ny.gov/DECALSCitizenWeb.

Paul and Jake summer fishing.
Picture credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau & Cindy Abersold Ferraro.

Someplace Else?
Nevertheless, stocked streams, creeks and ponds are not always the most popular with some local fishers. “My friends and I like to fish where it’s never stocked, where the trout just live naturally. There’s just something more peaceful where the crowds don’t go and the fish might be a little more sporting to catch,” said Hogan’s Hutt’s Bait Guy.

A few stocked trout do make their way down stream into Chautauqua Lake, according to Cornett, but only a few survive. Trout are cold water fish and the lake is generally too warm. An occasional lake fisher does pull in a trout, Cornett said, but mostly, the smaller ones just get eaten by the bigger game fish.

And A Free Trial, Too
Trout fishing in the three counties served by the Jamestown Gazette, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Warren County, PA, is a popular pastime for many and even a sporting passion for a few committed anglers. The outstanding fishing opportunities of the regional landscape is clearly enjoyed by thousands every year. Fortunately, for folks who have always thought of trying their hand, but not yet dropped a hook in the water, New York has created a few special, new opportunities.

Trout Stocking in Chautauqua County

  1. Goose Creek (Harmony, N. Harmony)
  2. Clay Pond (Poland)
  3. Bear Lake Outlet (Stockton)
  4. Cassadaga Creek (Stockton)
  5. W. Branch Conewango Creek (Villenova)
  6. Farrington Hollow Brook (Cherry Creek)
  7. Mill Creek (Gerry)
  8. Canadaway Creek (Arkwright)

Whether fishing for trout, or angling for musky or crappy, bass, perch or something else in streams and lakes, New York has a special gift for anglers, new and seasoned: Free Fishing Days, on June 24 and 25, September 23 (National Hunting and Fishing Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Readers can learn more at http://www.dec.ny.gov/. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.