Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the harvest season for largemouth and smallmouth bass opens Saturday, June 19. These two species, also known as black bass, are New York’s most popular freshwater sportfish, and account for 31 percent of total freshwater angling effort in the state.   

“New York is home to some of the best fishing opportunities in the nation and every year, anglers from around the world visit our waters looking for their next big catch,” Governor Cuomo said. “With the black bass season beginning on June 19, I encourage anglers of all skill levels to consider casting a line in New York’s waters and experience all the natural beauty that the Empire State has to offer.”

Freshwater sportfishing generates nearly $2 billion in annual economic output in New York, and bass fishing plays a large part in generating that activity. Anglers bought 1.28 million fishing licenses in New York last year, an increase of nearly 10 percent over 2019 levels. The Empire State led Bassmaster Magazine’s 2020 list of the ‘Best Bass Lakes of the Decade’ with four of the top 25, more than any other state except Texas, which also has four. New York’s top waters include Lake Erie (#3), Lake Champlain (#11), the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River (#12), and Oneida Lake (#18). In addition, Cayuga Lake made the list.

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Whether you are a beginning angler looking to catch your first fish or a die-hard bass fishing enthusiast, exceptional opportunities can be found throughout New York State. Some of the most challenging fish to land, large bass can be caught anywhere from neighborhood ponds to the Great Lakes. I encourage all New Yorkers to try for their own trophy bass this year.”

Bass are readily caught from shore and by boat. There are many simple, yet effective techniques, such as wacky rigging, that can be used to catch these fish. Those new to fishing should refer to the I FISH NY Beginners Guide to Fishing, which has all the information needed to get started in the sport.

New York’s traditional bass season opens on the third Saturday in June each year and runs until Nov. 30. A catch-and-release season exists for most of the state from Dec. 1, through the Friday preceding the third Saturday in June. There are variations in minimum length and daily limits for some waters. Anglers should check the current fishing regulations guide before heading out to fish.

Fishery managers have been simplifying fishing regulations by removing special regulations where they are no longer necessary. Consistent regulations from one water body to another make it easier for people to go out and fish. New for this year, black bass regulations with a minimum size limit of 10″ or any size have been changed to the 12″ statewide minimum size limit.

To improve public safety and encourage visitors to State-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation, DEC recently launched the ‘Love Our New York Lands’ campaign. The campaign is responsive to the steady increase in the number of visitors to state lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade prior, as more and more New Yorkers and visitors from other states and countries discovered the natural beauty of New York State. For details and more information, visit the Love Our New York Lands webpage.