November 27, 2021

Anticipation grows for anglers

Trout season opens Thursday amid rising interest in fishing, outdoors

Photo provided by Cortland Line Co.

Matt Borovy of Syracuse fishes Limestone Creek in Fayetteville on Saturday for trout ahead of opening day Thursday. Limestone Creek has a section open for catch and release from Oct. 15 to March 31. Fishing has grown more popular during the pandemic, professionals say.

Cortland County has 12,001 reasons to go fishing Thursday: the first day of trout season and 12,000 fresh trout stocked in its ponds and streams.

Fly fishing and spin casting gained popularity in Cortland County following the start of the pandemic last year, said Brooks Robinson, an avid angler and public relations and social media manager for Cortland Line Co.

“Once the pandemic hit last year, the amount of new anglers that got into the sport increased,” Robinson said. “Whether they were laid off, home from school, whatever the case may be, there was a large uptick in new anglers and more fishing being had by current anglers.”

Cortland Line Co. makes fly line, braided line, tippit, terminal tackle and other items for fly fishing.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has put 1.8 million trout into the water, including 12,000 in Cortland County. Popular fly fishing and spin casting waters — Casterline Pond, Otselic River and the east and west branches of the Tioughnioga River — are being stocked with brown and rainbow trout up to 15 inches.

“They’re stocking some rainbow trout, mostly brown trout,” said Jared Popoli, conservation assistant with Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. “In the popular areas, they do put and take — assuming that so many fish are going to be taken out of the system so they try to augment what the natural reproduction would be.”

Cortland County rests on the top of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Popoli said. Many of the streams and lakes are high quality, healthy waterways with clear water, making it easier to spot spawning trout.

“It offers kind of a great opportunity for wildlife and fish and things to thrive and have good, healthy populations,” Popoli said. “There are general, statewide regulations and then some of the different (local) bodies of water have different regulations.”

The DEC created statewide catchand- release seasons that will run from Oct. 16 through March 31, stated a press release from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New, and fewer, regulations will allow anglers to fish year round in some bodies of water.

In Cortland County, Goodale Lake, Little York Lake, Casterline Pond, Tri-County Pond Owego Creek and the Tioughnioga River are into the fall and winter months for trout fishing, under specific seasonal guidelines.

“Regulations are going to change this year,” Robinson said. “There will be a year-round fishery almost everywhere but they’ll be catch and release from Oct. 15 to April 1.”

The anticipation is high for this season, Robinson said.

“We can tell within the last few weeks as the weather has gotten nicer, there’s been a large uptick in both dealer sales and direct consumer sales,” he said. “It’s going to be a much bigger year this year and even years prior.

New anglers gravitate toward spots that are well-known and easily accessible. But seasoned anglers know to head up- or downstream.

“As seasoned anglers, you’ll know to avoid those areas,” Robinson said. “You’ll have to do that for a few weeks to a month with the addition of the new anglers and avoid those high traffic areas a little bit more to get away from them.”