The Toughnioga River

“I have often wondered why I don’t bump into more of my fellow fishermen when I’m scouting streams or putting a few trout in my creel in Cortland County. You know, salesmen say everything about “location, location, location,” but that can’t be it. After all, Interstate 81 slices through Cortland County and the New York State Thruway is no more than half an hour north of the city of Cortland. Nor can the problem be difficulty of access. Although you’ll find ”
no trespassing” signs anywhere in the Empire State, sportsmen visiting Cortland County frequently get permission to try their luck in a stream on private property just by checking with the land owner and asking permission. If you are too shy to go that route, the country boasts many enticing streams with yellow “public fishing” signs on their banks.

When you fish in Cortland County bring plenty of tackle and a way to get a picture of your catch, for you never know what type of fish you will hook into. Cortland County anglers can choose from beautiful brook, brown or rainbow trout, walleyes, bass, northern pike and a variety of panfish. Once you’ve arrived at your little piece of Cortland County-mine being a trout-filled tributary of the Tioughnioga River system- stay alert, because it probably won’t be long before you’re getting up close and personal with your favorite fish.

So why aren’t I bumping into more of my fellow fisherman in Cortland County? Darned if I know, but I’m in no hurry to figure it out.”

-J. Michael Kelly

Author, “Fishing the Finger Lakes”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has expanded its free fishing days program through the New York Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative with three new dates. These dates include Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 on National Hunting and Fishing Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 on Veterans Day, and Saturday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 on the weekend before Presidents Day.

During these free fishing days, New York State residents – and even non-residents – can fish for free without a fishing license, though all other fishing regulations remain in effect. These events allow individuals and families to try out fishing, perhaps for the first time, without having to buy a license first. These dates especially give people the opportunity to experience the excellent fall fishing and ice fishing offered throughout the Finger Lakes region and New York State.

For those who want to continue fishing outside of the free fishing days, license can be purchased at any one of the DEC’s license-issuing locations. Visit for a list of locations near you. Fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses can also be purchased by telephone at 866-933-2257 or online at Fishing licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase, while hunting and trapping licenses are valid for one year beginning Sept. 1, 2017.