With a taste of warmer weather teasing us all too briefly earlier this week, the bell is set to ring for round one of the spring fishing season. Are you ready to answer the call? You're not if you don't possess the proper fishing licenses and permits.
For starters, saltwater anglers age 16 and older must sign up for the free Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Information from the registry helps the National Marine Fisheries Service determine yearly quotas, fishing seasons, plus size and bag limits. You don't need this permit if you fish only aboard licensed party or charter boats.
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Freshwater fans need a New York State fishing license ($29) to probe sweet water hot spots for trout, panfish, bigmouth bass and the like. Both the marine registry and the NYS fishing license are available at town clerk offices, selected tackle shops, by phone at 1-86-NY-DECALS or online at www.dec.ny.gov (under "Permits and Licenses.")
Four-wheel drive access on federal beaches requires federal permits. The FINS permit ($50) allows 4×4 fisherman to patrol selected stretches of the Fire Island National Seashore between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31. Purchase this permit after Sept. 1 at the Otis Pike Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center. Call 631-281-3010 for hours and details.
West End anglers should consider getting a Gateway National Recreation Area Two-Wheel or Four-Wheel Drive Access Pass ($50 each.) The two-wheel version allows day and night parking by fishermen in designated areas of Floyd Bennett Field, Breezy Tip and Canarsie Pier. The Four-Wheel Drive permit lets you also drive on the Breezy Tip access road when it opens in the fall. Purchase either after May 1 at Floyd Bennett Field's Ryan Visitors Center (718-338-3799.) Call ahead to ensure you have the necessary equipment needed to procure these permits.
New York State Parks (631-321-3515) offers a Night Fishing Permit ($30) that allows anglers to fish after dark at Captree, Wildwood, Jones Beach, Hither Hills, Montauk Point, Robert Moses and Sunken Meadow State Parks. The State Parks 4 x 4 Beach Access Vehicle Permit ($65) provides surfside access in designated areas of Democrat Point and Gilgo Beach in Robert Moses State Park, Hither Hills, Napeague and Montauk Point state parks. Both are available until April 30, then again immediately after Labor Day through Dec. 31. Purchase them at Belmont Lake State Park Headquarters, where you also can get Camp Hero and Caumsett State Park fishing permits.
Suffolk County's Recreational Vehicle Use Permit ($93, Suffolk County Green Key required,) allows four-wheel access to Suffolk County parks, including beach access to Smith Point County Park. Call 631-854-4949 for specifics.
First bites in the book
Flounder action remains picky but clearly showed signs of improving in recent days. Shallow flats have had the edge over deeper-channel catches so far.
Striper season officially opens on April 15, and schoolie linesiders are already present in the westernmost reaches of Long Island Sound. Small bucktails and soft-plastic/jig combos have worked best to this point.
For freshwater fans, both rainbow and brown trout have responded enthusiastically to spinners, small spoons and Kastmaster style tins. Flyrodders presenting Wooly Buggers and Pheasant Tail nymphs also have scored well. Expect the fishing to improve dramatically on most fronts with onset of the next warming trend.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org