Much like Andy Griffith and Opie used to do in Mayberry, Valley Stream residents of all ages will head down to their local fishing hole, cast their rods out and catch some fish on June 29 and 30 at Hendrickson Park.
The free family fishing weekend, known as I Fish Valley Stream, will be the first in the village in decades and is in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s free fishing weekend. Fishing licenses are required to fish in fresh water bodies in New York, but for those two days no licenses will be required. When village officials learned of the DEC’s weekend, it wasn’t soon after that the lake at Hendrickson Park was thought of.
Mayor Ed Fare said he used to fish in the lake as a child, but due to harmful effects on the lake’s ecosystem, it was banned. He added that people have been asking to fish in the lake for years, and since one weekend of fishing would not have a negative impact on the lake, the plan was hatched. Every fish that is caught during the weekend will be immediately unhooked and released back into the lake.
Rich DeAngelis, deputy village clerk, also learned how to fish in Hendrickson Park while growing up and has played a key role in organizing the event. He and Recreation Director Tom Roberts, mapped out fishing stations on each side of the lake. The stations will be between 20 and 25 feet long and each person or group will be assigned to their own station upon check in during the event.
DeAngelis said the stations will be marked off on east and west sides of the lake, but no fishing will take place on the north (near the bridge) or south (near the Valley Stream pool) ends. On the west side, closest to the Community Center and basketball courts, there will be 1,000 feet of lakeside to fish at, while on the opposite side there will be 1,100 feet.
The DEC is supplying 200 fishing poles and bait for the event, and the village will have additional bait as needed. Those who have their own poles are encouraged to bring them. Barbless hooks will be used to catch the fish, which do not hurt the fish as much as barbed hooks, DeAngelis said.
Fare said he’s looking forward to kids getting the chance to fish for the first time, especially in Valley Stream. He added that it’s great when, “kids get excited and take vested interest in their community and they can tell their friends, ‘I fished in the lake.’”
There are mostly carp in the lake, but DeAngleis said there are also sunnies, eels and turtles that call Hendrickson Park home.
“I learned how to fish here and I’ve been fishing ever since,” DeAngelis said. “I hope that on that day some young people get the bug and want to continue to do it. It’s something that you can do for the rest of your life.”
As of Tuesday, about 450 people registered for the weekend of fishing, which will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. that Saturday and Sunday. Village officials are making calls to the people who have signed up to ask them to come at staggered times to help reduce congestion. People can fish for as long as they’d like, but are asked to arrive in two-hour blocks — either from 10 a.m. to noon, noon to 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. To sign up, call (516) 872-6003.