Going fishing this weekend? Maybe not

Updated: Jul. 3, 2020 at 3:28 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - On one of the busiest weekends of the summer, it is difficult to get a fishing license in northern New York.

The reason? New York state rolled out a new computer system Monday, and it isn’t working in some bait stores, which is traditionally where many anglers get their licenses.

7 News reached five bait stores early Friday afternoon. Only one of them - Log Cabins Store and Cabin Rental in Hammond - said it is able to issue licenses, and then only after four days of back and forth with the state.

Hosmer’s Marina in Ogdensburg wasn’t able to issue licenses Friday, according to a woman who answered the phone there.

It was the same story at the 1000 Island Bait Store in Alexandria Bay; at Black Lake Marine’s Cottages, and at Chaumont Bay Marina.

“It’s been since June 30 when they shut down the old system,” said Tara Morina, who was fielding calls at the marina Friday.

She said the marina was supposed to get login credentials and training for the new system, but it hasn’t happened yet.

What is she telling customers? “We’re dead in the water.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says “over half” of the places in New York where you can buy a license are operating “and the remaining will be fully operation in the next few days.”

In a written statement to 7 News, the DEC blames “closures caused by COVID-19,” for “certain agents...still in the final process of being trained on the new system.”

The DEC describes the new computer system as “user-friendly.” It will “help users locate vendors, receive instant copies of a license, enter and view harvest information, and more.”

What should you do if you want a fishing license? Here’s the state’s advice:

“Customers are encouraged to contact local agents before heading out to purchase licenses in person, and do remain able to purchase online licenses through the link on the DEC website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by phone, Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM, at 866-933-2257.”

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