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First free fishing event in New York to take place this weekend

Staff Writer |
The first of several free fishing events in New York will take place this weekend, Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 18.

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During these designated days, residents and visitors are permitted to fish for free without a fishing license on any of the state's 7,500 lakes and ponds or 70,000 miles of rivers and streams.

These are the first of several free fishing events planned for 2018, including June 23 and 24, Sept. 22 (National Hunting and Fishing Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

The free fishing days program is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which under the 2017-18 budget provides $19.5 million for state land access projects and $4 million for fish and wildlife infrastructure.

The program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost, to introduce people to a new hobby, and to encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Ice fishing continues to grow in popularity in New York and there is no better time to give it a try than this weekend. With the exception of coastal areas of the state that lost ice cover in the recent thaw, many areas should have good ice to take advantage of. Ice fishing is a proud tradition in New York State that provides recreational enjoyment while serving as a vital economic generator, supporting local economies statewide."

The State Department of Environmental Conservation reminds those venturing out onto the ice that four inches or more of solid ice is considered to be safe for accessing bodies of water on foot.

Ice anglers should note that ice thickness can vary on different bodies of water and on the same body of water. Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup.

The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be considered evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk.

Testing the thickness of ice can be done easily with an auger or ice spud at various spots.

While a New York State fishing license is not required to participate, all other statewide fishing regulations remain in effect.

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