Tom Schlichter writes the Outdoors column for Newsday.
Scattered but ever-increasing reports of virtually everything that swims continue to trickle in to Long Island tackle shops as spring tightens its grip on current weather patterns. With stripers, blues and a few weakfish arriving daily, now is the time to make sure you have all the necessary permits to fish legally while accessing the best hot spots.
For fishing marine waters you’ll need to sign up for New York’s free Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Sweet water fans ages 16 to 69 will also need a $25 annual freshwater fishing license ($5 age 70 and older.) Both permits are available through the DEC at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/365.html or over the phone at 1-866-933-2257. The DEC website also lists retail licensing agents.
Surfcasters should be sure to grab a NYS 4-Wheel Beach Driving Permit ($65,) which provides beach access to designated areas of selected NYS Parks. Many find the night Sport Fishing Access Permit ($30) a necessity. It authorizes nighttime entry to certain parking fields at specified state parks for the purpose of fishing. Both are available at Belmont Lake, Montauk Downs, Robert Moses, Sunken Meadow and Jones Beach state parks. The Night Sport Fishing Access permit can also be obtained at Wildwood State Park. Purchase either permit by April 30.
Suffolk County’s Outer Beach Permit ($100 with Suffolk County Green Key Card, 50 per cent senior discount) allows entry to beach stretches of various Suffolk County Parklands. The Green Key Card ($26, various discounts apply) provides access to the county park camping and golf reservation system, plus reduced admission for county park entry. You can get both at any Suffolk County Park.
Spring turkey starts May 1
New York’s spring turkey season gets underway May 1 in all of upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary.
Although there is no adult hunter spring season here on Long Island, the DEC allows for a special Youth Turkey Hunt this Saturday and Sunday (April 23-24.) The youth hunt, in which licensed junior hunters ages 12 to 15 are accompanied by an unarmed adult licensed hunter, is open across upstate New York and in Suffolk County.
Whether you hunt up north or take advantage of the youth hunt here on Long Island, this year’s outlook is pretty good. New York’s turkey flock enjoyed substantial reproductive success in 2015 and the mild winter means most birds probably made it through to spring.
The youth hunt bag limit is one bearded turkey per participant. The adult season allows hunters to take two bearded birds but only one each day. Both youth and adult hunters must have a valid hunting license and a valid turkey permit. For more on turkey regulations visit: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8366.html.
Free fly fishing classes
The Orvis Store in Garden City will offer a free Fly-Fishing 101 basic course throughout the spring and summer that breaks the game down into manageable steps. The next three classes are scheduled for Saturday, April 30 and May 7.
Anglers completing the basic course can also sign-up for Fly-Fishing 201 and get out on the water in an attempt to catch some fish. No fly gear? No worries — the shop supplies everything needed. Visit www.orvis.com/westbury or call 516-794-1681 for reservations and dates.