By Spider Rybaak
Have you ever found yourself looking out over a lake or stream and suddenly feeling the urge to go fishing?
Perhaps you’ve been held back by the thought of dishing out your hard-earned money on something you’re not sure of?
Well, the authorities understand and the state Department of Environmental Conservation offers an annual Free Fishing Weekend to help you get started.
This year it is June 28-29 and allows you to fish anywhere in the state without a license.
Granted, that doesn’t sound like much but it’s really a big deal.
Do the math: a 1-day fishing license costs state residents $5, and a 7-day costs $12; out-of state residents are charged $10 and $28 respectively.
Considering that thousands of folks take advantage of the program, it costs the state big bucks to offer it.
And while the fishing around here is well worth the minimal expense — in fact, a lot of local sportsmen groups constantly lobby to have license fees increased — you can’t really blame folks for wanting to try it before they buy it.
If you fall into this category, and want to wet a line before committing for the long haul, the last weekend of the month gives you the opportunity; and Oswego County is the place to do it.
You see, the fabulous web of lakes and streams etching the state isn’t equal. Studies show the four most productive spots are the two Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River and Oneida Lake.
Oswego County boasts two of ‘em: Lakes Ontario and Oneida.
Anglers the world over know it and come around to sample “the bite,” spending billions of dollars each year targeting everything from simple fish dinners and bottom feeders like carp and catfish, to arm-wrenching battles with glamorous species like trophy trout and salmon, or shots at casting for bragging-size bass, pike and walleye.
Summer Hot Spots
Here’s a few of Oswego County’s most popular fishing holes; all close to the road:
Oswego River: Long stretches of safe, shore fishing access, under the neon of city life, are available in the fenced linear parks hugging the river on Canal View Drive (east bank) and West First Street, downtown Oswego.
Oneida River: Deep water is available at the handicapped accessible DEC site off CR 37 (below the northeastern corner of the I-81 bridge), and off the municipal dock, North River Drive (a couple hundred feet east of the north end of the US 11 Bridge).
Salmon River Reservoir (Upper Reservoir): Bank fishing access at both County Route 17 Bridges, on the southern edge of the hamlet of Redfield. The site at the north bridge is handicap accessible.
Bennett’s Bridge (Lower Reservoir, Salmon River): Public access at the powerhouse tailrace, CR 22, a couple miles north of Altmar; car-top launch on Hogs Back Road.
Little Salmon River: Pier fishing at Mexico Point State Park, Mexico Point Drive (off NY 104B); and on the other side of the river at the Mexico Point State Boat Launch, off CR 40.
Lake Neahtahwanta: Bullhead Point Park, NY 3, Fulton.
New York’s Free Fishing Weekend is the state’s way of introducing — or reacquainting — people to the age-old pastime of fishing.
Grab a lawn chair, some fishing tackle and maybe a kid or two and head for the bank. You might not get any money, but the emotional currency you’ll pocket while fishing from the beach will be more than worth it.
For more great fishing spots, fishing reports and visitor information, go to visitoswegocounty.com or call (800) 248-4FUN (4386) and request an “Oswego County Visitor Guide” and “Fishing and Hunting Guide.”