Stocking the Fishing Waters of Cattaraugus County
Fishing is an ancient survival technique still utilized around the globe today. As the old adage states, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for life” … or something along those lines.
Believe it or not, fishing has also become one of the leading sports industries in many countries, and a favorite pastime for many. It is surprising to some folks that others have never fished a day in their life - as most people have … at least once or twice that they remember.
These days, fishing is a pretty big deal. There’s a lot of money in the fishing business, but anyone can go fishing for next to nothing. In the Cattaraugus County area alone there are thousands of public fishing streams and lakes, and a lot of private ponds too. There are even camps out there that will show you how and where to fish. As the sport has grown over the years, several fishery clubs and organizations have been established for the preservation of the fish and of the sport. The different seasons and the right spots to throw your line are important for making a legal limit, but just being out there fishing with friends and family is an enjoyable activity anyone can take part in.
STOCKING THE WATERS
There are countless different ways to fish and many species to catch. Most fishing waters in Cattaraugus County are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout, which lead the tally in numbers being introduced to these streams, lakes and ponds. Other fish being released in Cattaraugus County include paddlefish, tiger muskellunge, muskellunge and walleye. Each year New York State releases over 1 million pounds of fish into more than 1,200 public streams and bodies of water.
Trout Unlimited is the largest coldwater fish conservation organization in the area. Stan Bishop, a member of Trout Unlimited and treasurer of the local chapter, and a delegate of the State Council for 12 years helps stock the fish each season. “Trout require clean, cold water and our emphasis is to make sure it is,” Bishop said.
According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website (dec.ny.gov) over 60,000 fish were released last year in Cattaraugus County alone. The website contains a list of all the streams, ponds and lakes. Bishop told The Summer Local that he recruits crews of students - some from the Ellicottville BOCES conservation department - to help with stocking efforts. “The number of fish we stock is determined by the stream and by a biologist.” Bishop went on to share that he had recently stocked some of the local creeks. “We just stocked Great Valley Creek with 1,240 brown trout, and Forks Creek (a branch of Great Valley Creek) with 800 just this past month. Preseason stocks were about three times that. We stocked Great Valley, Forks, Wrights Creek in Humphrey, Connoisarauley in Ashford, Beaver Meadows (a tributary to upper Great Valley which comes into Ashford by the Birdwalk Restaurant) and Crandall Pond in Ashford.”
There are a total of 42 places in the county that are stocked for public use. Trout season in county waters runs April 1 through Oct. 15 with a limit of five (with no more than 2 longer than 12”.) Fishing is open all year long on some lakes where ice fishing is offered, and also in some streams and creeks that implement a catch and release regulation during the off-season. The NYS DEC website has all the information needed for specifics.
Walleye season on Lime Lake runs the first Saturday in May until March 15, with an 18-inch minimum length and limit of three. (Lime Lake is also an ice fishing body.) Muskellunge can be fished statewide starting the 3rd Saturday in June. There are plenty of places around the county where you can angle for these stocked fish. Other species are out there too, including pike, pickerel, small and large mouth bass … not to mention the panfish.
SECRET FISHING HOLES
Those avid outdoorsmen and women who have been fishing local waters all of their lives know the secret spots and private ponds reserved only for an elite group of landowners and localized members of the community. These lifelong family secrets boast great fishing holes where unwanted anglers are never welcome. It takes time to gain the trust of such legendary anglers; much like a secret society in ways. Blindfolds are sometimes used to take first-timers to locations so they can't find it again. It is quite difficult - especially for someone in media - to uncover information or even clues to these fabled fishing holes.
Russ Dunkleman (Dunk) of Ellicottville grew up next to a creek and has been fishing all of his life. “Since I was a kid,” Dunk said, adding, “All I used was a stick and a line.”
Dunk wasn't about to share any details to his favorite spots to catch his favorite fish, “… native trout, brookies, native brook trout. The best places for those ... find the smallest stream you can; they'll be in there. Just follow it up.”
“I run the cricks, a lot of public streams … never had a bad day of fishing. Any day fishing is better than a good day of work anyway,” Dunk remarked.
The streams and ponds are out there, and so are the fish. Licenses are available at most town clerks offices, bait and tackle stores and Wal-Mart. Any information one may need can be found on the NYS DEC website, dec.ny.gov.