DEC Announces Opening of 2017 Muskellunge Fishing Season

Biologists Predict Good Fishing on Chautauqua Lake

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that DEC is opening the statewide fishing season for muskellunge on May 27 in most locations. However, the muskellunge season for New York’s Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River, Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River will open on June 17.

“New York waters are home to some of the nation’s premier muskie fishing opportunities and DEC is committed to sound management of this charismatic predator,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Muskies are the largest freshwater sportfish in New York State and are the ultimate trophy by anglers that pursue them.”

Muskellunge, also known as “muskies,” are a trophy-size fish, with New York’s statewide minimum size limit set at 40 inches and Great Lakes waters’ size limit set at 54 inches. Review the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide on DEC’s website for more information.

Known in angling circles as “the fish of 10,000 casts,” muskies put up quite a fight once hooked; their ability to challenge and confound anglers due to their massive size and their well-earned status as a top predator fish have often inspired anglers to forsake other sportfishing opportunities for a run at a muskie.

Muskellunge fisheries in New York are managed through habitat protection and enhancement, research and monitoring, stocking, and fishing regulations. At least 13 lakes and 19 rivers have muskellunge populations in New York State.

The St. Lawrence River, Upper Niagara River, and Chautauqua Lake are the most renowned muskie hotspots in the state. Other quality muskie waters are Waneta, Greenwood, Bear, and Cassadaga lakes, and the Susquehanna, Chenango, and Great Chazy rivers. For tips on how to catch muskies, read DEC’s Muskie 101 web page.

Anglers fishing Chautauqua Lake muskies could have a good year of fishing ahead. Chautauqua Lake is the source for DEC’s muskie stocking program. Earlier this spring DEC staff handled 472 muskies during the annual egg take operation, including 95 fish over 40 inches and several over 50 inches. According to Region 9 Fisheries Biologist Justin Brewer, this is the highest number of muskies handled on record since DEC instituted a standardized netting for the collection of eggs in 1978.

DEC’s Chautauqua Hatchery will raise approximately 25,000 fall fingerlings from the collected eggs, which will be stocked into 13 waters across New York.

For further information on muskie season and rules and regulations, contact Jeff Loukmas, Warmwater Fisheries Unit Leader, (518) 402-8897.

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