New York fishing guide: Learn to fish in NYC

Never picked up a rod and reel? Our New York fishing guide will help you get started. Learn to fish in NYC at one of these beginner clinics.

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Photograph: Noffar Gat

New Yorkers love outdoor summertime recreation: running, biking, talking on cell phones in parks. Yet many city slickers have yet to try one of the most relaxing activities the season has to offer: fishing. New York has miles of coastline where you can cast a line anytime. If you don’t know a leader from a sinker, these catch-and-release classes will help you get started.


RECOMMENDED: Fishing Q&A with Ben Sargent of the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association


Fly Fishing 101

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Climb into a pair of waders and pretend you’re Tom Skerritt (or, sure, Brad Pitt) in A River Runs Through It. Fly Fishing 101 starts with rigging and tying lessons at the Orvis store in midtown, then the group walks two blocks over to Bryant Park, where there’s enough space to learn the fine art of casting. Fly Fishing 201 kicks it up a notch: Participants meet at the Harlem Meer in the northwest corner of Central Park, tie their flies and cast into the lake. According to Orvis New York’s fly-fishing manager, Rob Ceccarini, you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch something—just make sure you return whatever you haul out. Equipment is provided for both classes (registration is required), but if you want to invest if your own gear, you’ll get an in-store discount plus free membership to the Federation of Fly Fishers (fedflyfishers.org) as well as conservation group Trout Unlimited (tu.org). Fly Fishing 101: 522 Fifth Ave at 44th St; July 12, 19 9:30am–noon. Fly Fishing 201: Central Park, Harlem Meer, enter at 106th St at Fifth Ave; July 27 9:30am–noon • (212-827-0698, orvis.com/newyorkcity). Free; registration required.

  1. Central Park, Harlem Meer enter at 110th St, at Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
  2. Fri Jul 12 - Sat Jul 27
More info

City of Water Day

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Nobody likes being around jerks, especially in the water. Develop good angling manners at a free fishing clinic during City of Water Day, a marine celebration held on Governors Island. The workshop is part of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s I Fish NY program (dec.ny.gov), which promotes the sport throughout the state; DEC staff will be around all day to school you on equipment, techniques, etiquette (not casting over other people’s lines, for instance) as well as aquatic conservation and local fish species. Equipment is provided, and participants can take turns hooking something for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. cityofwaterday.org, 10am–4pm; free.

Big City Fishing

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For this aptly named program, the Hudson River Park Trust runs beginner lessons in multiple locations throughout the summer. Learn the rod-and-reel basics, and get familiar with the types of fish that swim the local waters, with an emphasis on river ecology and education. Equipment for up to 25 participants is provided on a first-come, first-served basis at the drop-in sessions. Pier 46 at Charles St; Tue 1–5pm through Aug 27 • Pier 25 at North Moore St; Thu 1–5pm through Aug 29 • Pier 63 at 23rd St; Sun 1–5pm through Sept 1 • Pier 84 at 44th St; Sun 1–5pm through Sept 29 • (212-627-2020, hudsonriverpark.org/events/series/big-city-fishing). Free.

  1. Hudson River Park W 44th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Thu Jun 27 - Sun Sep 29
More info

Hudson River Park Fishing Clinics

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This intermediate class is for those who have the fundamentals down but aren’t quite ready to audition for The Deadliest Catch. It builds on the skills gained in Big City Fishing to help aspiring anglers become self-sufficient. The in-depth sessions—led by Hudson River Park educators and Capitol Fishing Tackle Company staff (capitolfishing.com)—cover gear, how to catch different types of fish, local regulations and catch limits. All equipment is provided. (212-627-2020, hudsonriverpark.org/events/fishing-clinics). Sun 30, July 21 10am–noon; $10, registration required.

  1. Hudson River Park at Pier 84 W 44th St, at the Hudson River
  2. Sun Jun 30 - Sun Jul 21
More info

Fishing with Urban Park Rangers

Get schooled in basic techniques and local ecology by New York City Department of Parks & Recreation staff. Equipment is provided on a first-come, first-served basis at free summer tutorials in all five boroughs. Try your hand at freshwater fishing this weekend in Kissena Park (Oak and Rose Aves, Flushing, Queens; Sat 29 at 11am) or Van Cortlandt Park (Broadway at 242nd St, Bronx; Sun 30 at noon). Next weekend, give saltwater a go at the American Veterans Memorial Pier (69th Street Pier at Bay Ridge Ave and Shore Rd, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; July 6 at 11am) or the World’s Fair Marina, Pier 1 (125-00 Northern Blvd at Grand Central Pkwy, Flushing, Queens; July 7 at 1pm). Visit nycgovparks.org/events for the complete schedule.

  1. Various locations
  2. Various dates

Ready to head out on your own?

With the correct paperwork, you can fish any time in NYC’s parks and ponds, or off bridges and piers. For freshwater fishing you’ll need to drop $29 on a state fishing license; anyone fishing in saltwater must enroll in the no-fee recreational maritime fishing registry. For information on permits and locations, visit nycgovparks.org/facilities/fishing. There are also plenty of charter boats that can take you out on the open water, including the Brooklyn VI (brooklynvifishing.com; from $60 per person) in Sheepshead Bay and the Island Current fleet (islandcurrent.com; from $65 per person) out of City Island, both of which can pack as many as 100 anglers on board. Companies such as Karen Ann Charters (karenanncharters.com; from $125 per person) in Howard Beach have smaller vessels that are better suited for groups of 6–18 people. If you’re angling for your dinner in any of the city’s waterways, visit health.ny.gov/fish to see how often one can safely eat different species. Don’t worry, you won’t hook something that resembles the three-eyed fish from The Simpsons, but advisories vary depending on your age and gender so it’s worth checking before you invite your friends over to enjoy the catch.


Before you head out to land that trophy fish, read our fishing Q&A with Ben Sargent, cofounder of the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association.



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