One sure sign fishing season is upon us is the appearance of osprey over Long Island waters. Their return from points south coincides with the stocking of trout in local freshwaters, plus the arrival of alewives in our marine estuary systems.

The birds of prey have been in our area for a couple of weeks already – as witnessed by a multitude of on-line photographs showing them “unstocking” some of the roughly 25,000 trout deposited by the DEC each spring. The big saltwater baitfish, meanwhile, have just begun sliding into the shallows. As their numbers increase, the osprey will shift their focus to the salty side, as will most anglers with the opening of striper season on April 15.

Until then, trout hold center stage. Fishing for rainbows and browns in such hot spots as Massapequa Reservoir, Argyle Lake and West Lake in Patchogue, is off to a solid start with in-line spinners accounting for the best scores. You can see the entire DEC trout stocking list at:

Nowhere this spring will trout stockings be more robust than at the Spring Family Fishing Festival tomorrow (Saturday) at Belmont Lake State Park, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Approximately 5,000 trout, a mix of ‘bows, browns and brookies, have been released into the lake by DEC and New York State Parks. Fishing licenses are not needed to attend this fishing extravaganza, which also features fly casting demos and a kid’s “Spring Fling” casting contest. Loaner rods and free bait will be available but supply is limited so bring your own gear if you have it. There is an $8 parking fee.

Give Back To Your Parks

If you enjoy New York’s State Parks, mark down May 4 as “I Love My Park Day.”

“This is a chance for the public to help beautify our State Parks,” said Sue Wuehler, superintendent at Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale. “Here, for example, we’ll do trail maintenance, refresh a memorial bench and work on our pollinator garden. Everybody’s welcome.”

To volunteer at any New York State Park, go to:, pick a park, and register to join the fun.

This year’s I Love My Park day at Connetquot Park will also see The Friends of Connetquot State Park Preserve dedicate a plaque honoring the late Gil Bergen for his 70-plus years of service on the property. Bergen, who passed away last fall, started working at the Southside Sportsman’s Club in 1945, eventually becoming its superintendent. When New York State took over the grounds in 1973 he was named park manager and served in that capacity until his death. The ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m.

Bergen’s passing was a bitter pill to swallow for those who knew him and the suburban oasis he groomed and managed, but it has led to a welcomed return for Wuehler. Installed as park superintendent last August, she began her career working for Bergen from 1982 through 1998 before moving on to serve as supervisor of Montauk State Park, area manager at Jones Beach State Park, and park manager at Orient Beach State Park.

“The circumstances are sad, of course,” said Wuehler, “but I feel like I’ve finally come home.”

Many of those who love the park are happy she has, and they’re pleased the grounds should remain in competent and caring hands for the foreseeable future.

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