Nearly 2,000 brown trout were released in Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls Tuesday. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stocks the lake every year near the start of trout fishing season, which started Sunday and runs through October 15.
In Western New York, sport fishing is an $80 million industry. The DEC released 1,900 brown trout in Hyde Park Lake and another 570 brown trout were stocked in Gill Creek.
"This is something we're trying to emphasize here in Niagara Falls," Mayor Paul Dyster explained. "There are tremendous opportunities for outdoor recreation here and sport fishing is right at the very top of the list."
Mayor Dyster said the strong sport fishing industry has an impact year-round in Niagara Falls. In the fall and winter, when tourism to the falls slows down, anglers from across the country still visit the region and snatch up the normally empty hotel rooms.
"We're doing everything that we can to make this a first class resource for everyone here in Niagara Falls and also for everyone who comes to visit," Mayor Dyster said.
At Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston, Lisa Drabczyk knows how good the fishing is in Western New York.
"Fishing here is amazing," she said. "I can't believe the fish here. Our freshwater species are probably as big as some of the saltwater species you would see."
Drabczyk runs the bait shop and her husband runs a fishing charter business. Together, they see customers from across the country.
"With both the Great Lakes and the upper and lower Niagara Rivers, there's so much good fishing around," she said. "You can't top it anywhere. You can't. Not for freshwater."
Still, Drabczyk thinks more can be done to promote WNY sport fishing outside the region. She pointed to the state's I Love NY campaign and would like to see something similar to help draw anglers to this corner of the state.
"It does need a lot more promotion because it is kind of the best kept secret around," Drabczyk said. "People come up here and can't believe the fishing. They're like, why have I never heard of this place before? Why have I never been here before?"