New York State has some of the most varied fisheries in the US. Great Lakes, rushing rivers, mountain streams – and that’s just the fresh waters. In the sea, you have rocky shores, ocean canyons, and sheltered bays by the dozen. Choosing one New York state fish from all of this is impossible. That’s why there are two, one for freshwater and one for saltwater. Let’s meet them.
Freshwater State Fish: Brook Trout
Brook Trout is the smallest Trout species in New York. Despite that, it has a huge following among local anglers. This is the state’s only native Trout species. For many, it’s also the most beautiful. Add in the fact that it thrives in remote, pristine streams, and you have the ideal fly fishing target.
Your average catch will weigh around a pound or less. Two-pounders are considered trophies, and anything above that is one for the photo album. Brookies can get much, much bigger, though. The NY state record weighed 6 pounds and measured almost 2 feet long! What’s more, it was only caught in 2013, so there could be even bigger fish out there.
The first step for finding Brook Trout is to get as far away from civilization as possible. The cold, clean waters of New York’s Wilderness Areas are great, especially the upper Oswegatchie River. The best time to fish for Brook Trout is spring.
Saltwater State Fish: Striped Bass
Who doesn’t love Striped Bass? They’re big, aggressive, and not afraid to hit pretty much any bait or lure your throw their way. Unsurprisingly, this is the Northeast’s favorite fish. Anglers all along the Atlantic tick off the days until the start of Striper season.
Striped Bass get real big in New York. Twenty-pounders are a possibility on any trip, and 30–40 lb “cows” show up each year. The state record sits at a staggering 76 pounds. However, we’d recommend releasing larger breeder fish unless you’re chasing a record.
The most iconic place to target Stripers in New York is Long Island, especially around Montauk. They also have a long freshwater run up the Hudson River. Even downtown Manhattan has a decent Bass bite. Wherever you look for them, the best time to do so is the middle of summer, although they stick around well into the fall in saltwater.
New York’s State Fish: The Best of the Best
New York’s picks aren’t exactly surprising. Both species are honored across America. They’re the most common state fish in the country – and it’s easy to see why. Brook Trout and Striped Bass are awesome game and make for great eating, too. What more could you want?
Have you ever caught a wild Brookie? Ever seen a Striper blitz? Drop us your favorite fish tales in the comments below. We always love to hear them!