Fishing in New York


New York offers over 70,000 miles of streams and rivers, 75,000 ponds and lakes, and a long coastline. It’s a perfect destination for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. On top of that, its home to over 165 fish species, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking for their next trophy catch.

For bass anglers, New York is home to four of the best bass lakes in the United States. But what I have always enjoyed is fly fishing at the streams and lakes of Catskill and Adirondack parks. In fact, I have caught some of the biggest largemouth and smallmouth bass in these lakes. Plus, the peace and tranquility that comes with exploring these crystal-clear water bodies are incredible.

Stocked trout in New York
Stocked trout in New York – read where at 👉 NY DEC Stocking

Unfortunately, to legally cast your line in these clear lakes, you need a fishing license and some permits. Plus, there are some rules and regulations that you must follow when fishing in New York State waters. So for more info on the fishing licenses in New York and fishing regulations, please read on.

  • Resident Annual freshwater fishing license (ages 16 to 69): $25
  • Resident Annual freshwater fishing license (over 70 years): $5.00
  • Non-resident annual fishing license: $50.00
  • Lifetime fishing license (ages 0 to 69): $460.00
  • Resident 7-day freshwater fishing license: $12.00

Guide Pro Tip: Learn about my favorite places to cast a fly in this article 👉 Best Places to Fly Fish in New York

For more details, here is a link to the New York website.  

Does New York Have Free Fishing?

Yes, New York State has free fishing days when everyone over 16 can fish without a fishing license. Remember, kids below 16 always fish for free in New York. So you should be ready to test the clear waters of New York parks for free on the following days:

  • February 18 and 19, 2023 (the President’s Day Weekend)
  • September 23, 2023
  • June 24 and 25, 2023
  • November 11, 2023 (Veterans Day) (source)

The free fishing days offer an excellent opportunity to try fishing for the first time, take your family fishing, or return to your favorite sport.   

Can Non-residents Fish for Free on the Free Fishing Days?

Yes, during the free fishing days, the public water is open to everyone in New York, including non-residents. Therefore, you can test the clear waters in this state before purchasing your fishing license and continuing with your fishing holiday.

Get a FREE PDF on the Arkansas Fishing Regulations with this shortcut link 👉 NEW YORK Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide Book

Types of Fishing License in New York

As aforementioned, you need a fishing license to fish legally in New York State. Therefore, the state has a wide range of fishing licenses for different age groups, duration, and purposes. Children below 16 years old don’t need a fishing license to cast their lines, but you can get them a lifetime license at a young age if you want.

These licenses vary in price, with the non-resident licenses being a bit costly compared to their resident counterpart. Plus, they have short-term licenses for people planning on fishing for a few days. Some of the most common fishing licenses and permits include:

Annual Fishing License

You should get an annual fishing license if you love fishing in New York waters. With this license, you have 365 days to explore the thousands of lakes and ponds in New York. This license is available for residents and non-residents. Plus, it lets you catch fish species by hooking, angling, longbow, and spearing.

You can also catch different frog species by hand, hook, club, or spearing. Some of the annual fishing licenses include:

  • Resident fishing license (ages 16 to 69)
  • Non-resident fishing license (over 16 years old)
  • Resident fishing license (over 70 years old)

Short Term Licenses

If you don’t plan to explore New York waters for the entire year, you should consider getting a short-term fishing license. New York has a 7-day and 1-day fishing license for both residents and non-residents. So if you plan on fishing for a weekend in New York, you can get two 1-day permits. And if you still want to spend more time fishing, you can always get an extension.

Remember, you can purchase these licenses even before you leave your hometown.

Guide Pro Tip: The Breaverkill is an awesome fishery in New York. Read about where to go in this article. 👉 Where to Fly Fish on the Beaverkill River

Reduced Fee/Free Fishing Licenses

New York has several free and reduced fee licenses for the residents. Some of the common ones include:

Active-Duty Military Members

Generally, active service refers to part-time or full-time status in the American military forces. To qualify for these licenses, you need to be:

  • Resident military member of the American reserve forces or the NYS organized militia.
  • Resident members of the American army are stationed outside this state but are home for a maximum of 30 days’ leave.
  • Non-resident soldiers stationed in New York and on 30 days leave.

The residents get free fishing, trapping, and hunting licenses for this license. On the other hand, non-resident military members can get a license at a reduced price, which means they will pay the same as the residents. (source)

Rainbow Trout Scales
Rainbow Trout Scales – click 👉 Learn to Catch Rainbow Trout

Military Veterans (Residents Only)

Resident veterans with over 40% service-related disabilities can get a unique license at reduced prices. If you purchase the $5 fishing license, you get a free trapping and hunting license. You will also get free muzzle-loading and bow-hunting privileges. (source)

Junior Fishing License (Under 15 Years Old)

Anglers below 15 years of age can fish for free in New York. The youth between 12 and 15 years old (non-residents and residents) can get a hunting license for $5.00 and bow hunting privileges for $4.00. On the other hand, kids below 15 years old can also get a trapping license for $5.00.

Seniors (Over 70) License

Unlike most states, New York doesn’t let seniors over 70 fish for free. Instead, they have reduced-price licenses for them. For instance, they can get fishing, trapping, or hunting license for $5.00 each. But they do get free muzzle loading and bow hunting privileges.

Persons With Disabilities Fishing License

For persons with disabilities, New York has free fishing licenses for them. Residents who are legally blind can enjoy this license for free. But you’ll need a signed letter from your doctor stipulating your condition.

Full-Time Non-resident Students’ Fishing License

Non-resident full-time students enrolled in New York State universities or colleges can get a license at a reduced price. These students can get resident prices for trapping, hunting, and fishing licenses.

Type of LicenseResidentNon-residents
Annual fishing license Ages 16 to 69 years $25.00$50.00
Annual resident Ages 70+$5.00N/A
7-day fishing license$12.00$28.00
1-day fishing license$5.00$10.00
Lifetime fishing license Ages 0 to 69 years old $460.00 N/A
Lifetime fishing license Ages 70+$65.00N/A

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in New York?

Generally, in New York, you can either buy fishing licenses via phone, online, or from authorized agents. To get your license via phone, you can only call 1-866-933-2257, make your order, and pay for it using your bank cards. After purchasing the license, you’ll have to wait 14 days for delivery. (source)

King Salmon Fly Fishing
King Salmon Fly Fishing

For online purchases, you must click the following link, create an account, and order your license. You may have to print it or have it sent to you via mail. Online purchases are safer, and you can checkout using your bank cards.

If you prefer a human touch, then you can purchase your license in person from one of the many authorized dealers in New York. To locate an authorized vendor, you can click here and then use your locator to find one within 5 miles. You can also use your zip code, full address, and city and state name.

How Much Is a New York Fishing License at Walmart?

The price of New York fishing licenses at Walmart is the same as on the state’s official website. But you may have to pay a small processing and printing fee.

Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in New York?

New York has some unique fishing regulations. These rules may include the correct fishing method, bag, and possession limit. It will also show you the correct times to fish specific species in New York.

Remember, breaking these rules can result in a hefty fine or jail term. To access the fishing regulations in New York, click here. Download it and go through it before your fishing weekend trip. You may find the best place to fish in this document.

Guide Tip: One of my favorite rivers is the West Branch of the Delaware. I’ve got a complete guide 👉 Where to Fish on the West Branch of the Delaware

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for New York?

Anyone over 16 years old requires a license to fish in all the public waters in New York. And unlike most states, seniors must have a permit to fish; fortunately, their licenses are available at a reduced price, and even their lifetime option is cheaper.

When Do New York Fishing Licenses Expire?

All annual fishing licenses last for 365 days from the purchasing date. Therefore, you can enjoy an entire fishing year, irrespective of when you purchased your license.

Can You Fish Without a License in New York?

How to use poppers to catch bass
Learn how to catch bass with poppers in this article 👉 How to use poppers to catch bass

Besides free fishing days, everyone over 16 years old (residents and non-residents) needs a fishing license in New York. But kids below 15 years can fish for free all year round. The military veterans and PWD get free fishing licenses in New York State.

Can You Fish on Private Property Without a License?

Yes, in New York State, you can fish without a license in ponds on private land. But you will have to get written permission from the owner. After all, you can get sued for trespassing on private land. You’ll have to adhere to the rules and regulations set by the landowner.

What Is the Fine for Fishing Without a License in New York State?

The maximum penalty for hunting or fishing without a license is $250 or about 15 days of jail term. (source)

What Is the Fishing Season in New York?

Holding a rainbow trout
Holding a rainbow trout 👈 article about learning to hold trout

General fishing season in New York waters is open from January to December. Unfortunately, this rule applies to water bodies that don’t have a special regulation. But the other fishing destinations with special regulations are usually open to anglers partially all year round. But the fishing season will depend on the fish species you’re targeting.

Therefore, if you’re looking for trophy bass or trout, you need to know when certain water bodies are open to the public. Some of the fishing seasons in New York include:

Trout Fishing Season

New York State waters provide a perfect opportunity for trout anglers all year round. But it will depend on the trout species you’re chasing. For instance, brook trout fishing in ponds and lakes is only open between April 1 and October 15. But you’ll only be allowed a bag limit of about five species.

On the other hand, the rainbow and brown trout fishing season in lakes and ponds are open all year round.

If you plan on chasing a rainbow, brown, and brook trout in the inland trout streams, then you should visit this state between October 16 and March 31. But you’ll have to release everything you catch. If you want to harvest the trout, you’ll have to visit between April 1 and October 15.    

Atlantic Salmon Fishing Season

Another popular species in New York State is the Atlantic Salmon. Luckily, there are several places for salmon fishing, the most popular ones being the Genesee River, the Oswego River system, and the Salmon River. Fortunately, trout fishing in the New Year State is open all year round.

Black Bass Fishing Season

Black bass fishing in New York State is open all year round, but you won’t be allowed to harvest them every time. From June 15 to November 30, anglers can only harvest five bass fish. But between December 1 and June 14, you can only use an artificial lure and only catch-and-release.

Northern Pike Fishing Season

The high-quality northern pike fishing destinations include Lake George, Schroon Lake, Tupper Lake, Cranberry Lake, Long Lake, and the Saranac Lake Chain. But the pike fishing season is only open between May 1 and March 15.

Species of Fish With No Closed Fishing Season

You can catch and harvest several species all year around in New York State. These species include crappies, sunfish, yellow perch, American Eel, Lake Whitefish, and the American shad. 

Fish speciesOpening dateClosing date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
Brook troutApril 1October 15
Brown trout and rainbow troutOctober 16March 31
Atlantic SalmonJanuary 1December 31
Black bass Catch-and-releaseJune 15 December 1November 30 June 14
Northern PikeMay 1March 15

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in New York State?

New York State has over 500 miles long shoreline guaranteeing a great fishing experience. Unfortunately, picking the right fishing destination can be challenging, especially if you don’t know the fishing seasons. So here are some of the best places to fish in New York State.

Niagara River

The Niagara River is a great fishing destination linking the channel to the border between Canada and New York. It flows northwards between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. This river, usually described as the strait, is approximately 36 miles long, forming a great fishing opportunity. (9)

This river supplies over 80% of Lake Ontario’s water. The outflow to Lake Ontario is a notable attraction to salmon and trout. The lower part of the river is perfect for Chinook salmon, walleye, and steelhead fishing. You can also catch smelt, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, and lake trout.

Lake Ontario

When you think about fishing, I’m sure the last thing that comes to mind is Lake Ontario. But did you know that Lake Ontario is one of the best fishing destinations in New York? After all, trolling for salmon and trout at this fishing destination will be a memory you will never forget.

You can handle the rough waters while chasing your trophy fish if you have a boat. But if you don’t want to get a boat, then you can fish from the shores. There are over 10,000 drumlins in this lake. You can also have fun fishing walleyes from its elongated sediment hills.

Hudson River

The upper part of the Hudson River is usually open to sport anglers, but you’re only allowed to practice catch-and-release. The part of the river between Bakers Falls and Federal Dam creates an exceptional fishing destination.

During summer you can enjoy the striper season and even catch some sharks. If you’re in Dutchess County, you can access the Hudson River from Riverfront Park, Warya Park, and Quiet Cove.

For more details on where to fish in New York, click here.

Can I Fish at Night in New York State?

Yes, unless there is no law against it and the river or lake is accessible, you can fish at night in New York. Remember, dawn and dusk are the best times to catch a trophy trout or salmon. But you must be well-prepared for the cold night weather, so you must dress warmly.

You also have to ensure that you have the right gear for night fishing, which means proper lighting all over your vessel.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have While Fishing in New York State?

In New York, anglers cannot operate with over three lines and rods while fishing. They need a maximum of 3 lines with or without rods.

Do You Need a Fishing License in New York State if You’re Over 65 Years?

Yes, everyone over 65 needs a fishing license in New York. Those over 70 years old anglers must get a senior’s license for $5.00. they may also have to purchase the correct permits.

Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. New York State staff, Fees, accessed February 10, 2023.
  2. New York State staff, Free fishing days, accessed February 10, 2023.
  3. New York State staff, Free/reduced fee sporting licenses, accessed February 10, 2023.
  4. New York State staff, DEC Automated Licensing System (DECALS), accessed February 10, 2023.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, Niagara River, accessed February 10, 2023.
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