Closures and Affected Areas: Due to high levels of blue-green algae in the Harlem Meer, catch-and-release fishing is suspended until further notice.

Central Park has three locations where you can enjoy fishing: the Harlem Meer, the Central Park Lake, and the Central Park Pond. The Turtle Pond and the Reservoir do not allow fishing.

Anyone over the age of 15 must acquire a fishing license to fish in the city’s freshwater lakes and rivers.

Get a fishing license

All freshwater fishing in the city is catch and release only.

No lakes in the park permit traps for crabs or other crustaceans. Only catch and release fishing is permitted in Central Park, without the use of barbed hooks or weighted lures. The park asks that fish be released underwater, and that participants only handle the fish with wet hands.

At the Harlem Meer you can borrow a fishing pole and take advantage of the free bait given to each participant. A picture ID is required. The only bait permitted for use in the ponds in Central Park is corn kernels. Items like lunchmeats or worms can be a threat to the natural ecology of the pond. The park asks visitors not to disturb or feed turtles or other pond inhabitants, and to refrain from wading into the water or digging for bait. All of these activities can damage the ecosystem of the pond.

Fishing is available Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 1 - November 30. Fishing poles must be returned within one hour of the close of fishing for the day. Fishing at Harlem Meer is free, but groups of five or more must call two weeks in advance for reservations by calling 212-860-1370. This activity is primarily geared toward children ages 5 to 15. The Catch and Release program includes instruction, poles, and bait.

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Youth Fishing Clinics:

Youth participants will learn new fishing techniques, such as baiting and casting, and enhance their fishing skills through small-group instruction.  Program includes lessons in Central Park’s aquatic ecology and diverse fish species.  

Free: Children must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited, advance registration required. 

For more information or to register for a session, email 

Fish to be found in the lakes are: Black Crappie, Pumpkinseed, Chain Pickerel, Cayfish, Bass, Carp, Bluegill and Crayfish. Turtles are Snapping and Red Eared Slider. Catch only the fish, not the turtles and birds.






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