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Free and Affordable Fishing Experiences for Kids in NYC This Summer

Fishing is a great activity to do with kids. As long as kids are at the age where they have a little patience, they can enjoy the peace of sitting with a line in the water and the thrill of a bite on the hook.

NYC is also home to a large number of fishing spots, from freshwater fishing in the many local parks to saltwater fishing at dozens of designated places along the coastline, making it easy to take your kids to great fishing spots no matter where you live in NYC.

Fishing with kids in NYC can also be an affordable weekend activity if you know the right places to go. These are some of the best spots around NYC for fishing with kids, many of which also provide all the equipment you need at low cost or no cost for hours of enjoyment for you and your kids.

Fishing with Equipment in NYC

Anyone under the age of 16 does not need a license to fish in NYC and if you already have rods, reels, and tackle, you and your kids can head to many of the different fishing spots around NYC. Central Park Lake in Central Park, Prospect Lake in Brooklyn, and Crotona Park in the Bronx are often only a subway ride away and provide a wide range of fish for kids to try out their skills.

Keep in mind that freshwater fishing in NYC parks is catch and release only. You will need to use hooks without barbs and be sure to return fish to the water after you have celebrated the catch.

You can also fish from the shoreline at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park, and many other locations along the waterfront with your own equipment. At these locations for saltwater fishing and estuary fishing, your kids can often keep the fish they catch in accordance with DEC guidelines. This can add additional excitement to the experience when you can take your kids home and teach them how to prepare and cook their catch.

Fishing Spots in NYC with Equipment Available

If your kids do not already have fishing rods and all the necessary equipment, that does not need to stop you and your kids from experiencing fishing since there are many places in NYC that will provide equipment.

This is a great, low risk way to try out fishing the first few times or even to make the experience more convenient because you will not need to pack up your rods and reels and carry them to your fishing destination.

Favorite fishing experiences for kids in NYC include:

  • Harlem Meer in Central Park – Organized by the Central Park Conservatory, catch and release fishing in Harlem Meer offers children a chance to fish for carp, largemouth bass, and sunfish. You can pick up a simple pole without a reel and corn kernels to use as bait at the Charles A Dana Discovery Center in exchange for a government-issued ID.
  • Lower Eastside Ecology Center – The LDS Ecology Center offers free fishing programs for adults and children throughout the summer. Their fishing clinics provide information on the ecology of the Hudson River Estuary, as well as instruction in fishing. They provide bait and tackle to all participants. Any kids under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Prospect Park Lake in Prospect Park – The Prospect Park Audubon Center provides “Pop Up Audubon Play and Go” kits available for you to check out. You and your child can select 5 items to help you experience nature in the park including binoculars for birdwatching and fishing poles. Kits are available from different pop up locations in the park.
  • Go Fish! Event at Wagner Park – The Battery Park City Authority organizes this annual event on a Saturday in October. The event provides all the necessary equipment and fishing lessons from experienced anglers, as well as a live performance and art projects for an entire morning dedicated to fishing and environmental learning.
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park – The Conservancy in Brooklyn Bridge Park offers Citizen Science Fishing Clinics on Sundays throughout the summer. These clinics are open to all ages and provide rods and tackle. Anglers and marine biologists are onsite to instruct you in fishing and take data down for an ecological survey about the health of the river.
  • Urban Park Ranger Events – Urban Park Rangers holds events throughout the city at different times of the year where they teach kids how to fish while also providing information about fishing ethics and ecology. Keep your eye on their event page to see all upcoming events.
  • Teen Marine Adventure – This 3 week program through the Battery Park City Authority takes teens to fishing locations around New York Harbor and teaches fishing skills while teens practice catch and release fishing. It is one of the pricier options at $400 for the 3 week clinic, but a fantastic choice for older kids.
  • NYC Fishing Boats – Marilyn Jean offers saltwater fishing for all ages at an affordable price. We sail from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn on half day trips that are great for kids and go to many of the top offshore fishing locations to catch ling, cod, striped bass, porgy, and more. Tickets for kids are available at a discount price and include all of the equipment and instructions from our crew for those who need them.

All these fishing experiences give you options for every age and skill level to keep you and your kids busy throughout most summer weekends and even year round with some fishing options like party boat fishing in NYC.

These options are great if you want to learn to fish as well as an adult, although you should remember that any adults over the age of 15 will need their own NYC fishing license to cast a line for any freshwater or saltwater fishing. Licenses are affordably available online and you can buy one for a day, a week, or a year to join your kids on any fishing trips.

Things to Remember When Fishing with Children

While many fishing experiences provide guidance before you cast the line, some do not. For this reason, it is important to remember best practices for fishing to protect the local environment. These include:

  • Remembering Catch and Release Techniques – When using your own hook, it needs to be a barbless hook so that you can easily remove the fish. Always handle a fish with wet hands and release it back into the water as quickly as possible after catching it.
  • Use Correct Bate – When applicable, use only the provided bait. Breads and processed foods like hot dogs can be harmful to marine wildlife. Also do not dig for worms as this can disrupt the local ecosystem.
  • Be Gentle on the Surrounding Area – To help prevent erosion and not disturb other animals, tread carefully when traveling to and from the shoreline.

With these tips in mind, fishing in NYC can be both a fun and educational experience for your kids and you as well. Check calendars for upcoming fishing events closer to summer or book tickets on the Marilyn Jean for fishing year round.

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