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DEC: April 1 marks end of catch-and-release-only for trout fishing

The spring trout fishing season begins April 1. Courtesy of Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the upcoming start of the spring trout fishing season, which provides excellent angling opportunities statewide thanks to the state’s extensive stocking program and considerable number of wild trout fisheries.

DEC’s spring trout stocking begins in March and runs through early June, and includes more than 1.8 million trout stocked in waters statewide.

“Fishing in New York state is a highly anticipated, world-class experience that brings seasoned and amateur anglers to our waters in every corner of the state every spring,” Seggos said. “DEC’s extensive fish stocking efforts throughout the state are certain to complement our existing healthy fisheries and make the upcoming harvest season a success.”

For decades, April 1 was the traditional “opening day” of trout fishing season. This year, the date marked the opening of the harvest season for trout because year-round fishing was made available on most streams with the implementation of an Oct. 16 – March 31 artificial lures-only catch-and-release season.

DEC stocking trucks have been hitting the roadways stocking 1,872,105 catchable brown, rainbow and brook trout stocked in ponds and streams across the state this spring. Stocked-Extended streams (listed in the Trout Streams section of the regulations guide) will receive fish every other week for two months to enhance season-long opportunities for angler success.

Most streams will also receive a seeding of larger stocked trout. Spring trout stocking lists, including the week of stocking for trout streams, can be found at DEC’s website. Additionally, DEC recognizes some fisheries rely on stocked fish to reach a certain size before they can be harvested. Visit DEC’s website to find locations where these put-grow-and-take stockings of brook trout, lake trout, and Atlantic salmon take place.


DEC recently announced the adoption of new freshwater fishing regulations that will take effect April 1.

Following a public comment period on draft proposals earlier this year, the new regulations reflect the input and support of the angling community in DEC’s efforts to make fishing New York’s waters less complicated.

Of particular interest to trout anglers is a new statewide regulation for rainbow trout, brown trout and splake. The regulation creates consistency with inland trout regulations and expands opportunities for year-round fishing. A complete compilation of changes and an assessment of public comment associated with the rulemaking can be found at DEC’s website at

The new guide with recently adopted regulations changes is posted on the DEC website. Hard copies of the guide are currently being produced and guides are anticipated to be available at License Issuing Agents by the second week of April. Hard copies can also be requested by emailing In 2021, DEC removed advertisements and articles from the annual fishing regulations guide to make it easier to use. This approach and larger print size continues this year, along with more improvements to facilitate finding regulations. Measuring 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches, the new guide allows anglers to keep a copy in their glovebox or tacklebox.

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