What are Public Fishing Rights?
Public Fishing Rights (PFR) are permanent easements purchased by DEC from willing landowners, giving anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank -- usually a 33' strip corridor along one or both banks of the stream.
DEC has been working with private landowners to create public access opportunities to these prime fishing waters since 1935. To date, more than 1,300 miles of PFR easements have been purchased on more than 400 streams across the state.
Using Public Fishing Rights
PFR has been purchased from landowners generous enough to allow the public to fish on their property. While PFR gives you legal access to a 33 foot width along the streams, the land itself is still private. Please respect the landowner's property and adhere to the following requirements when using PFR to insure their continued use.
- Remove anything you bring in: including bottles, cans, bait containers, and any other form of trash.
- Remain within boundaries of a PFR easement: PFR allow the public to walk along the stream banks for the sole purpose of fishing. Easements along stream banks are normally 33 feet wide, extending from the edge of the water and upland. Anglers should try to keep as close to the river as possible to avoid encroaching on adjacent private lands where public rights don't exist. The easements may be along one bank or both banks, depending upon what was purchased. Right bank and left bank are terms used to describe where the public has a right to fish and are identified as one faces downstream.
- Use designated parking areas and marked foot paths where available: Designated parking areas may be available along with access to the stream via marked footpaths. Where no formal access exists, anglers should request landowner permission when seeking river access.
- Use PFR for fishing only: PFR does not include public access for other purposes, including trapping, hunting, swimming, camping, boating or picnicking. These other activities may be enjoyed only with permission from the landowner. Public use of PFR other than for fishing is unlawful without landowner permission.
Find Public Fishing Rights on Streams
DEC infoLocator Map
Use the interactive DEC infoLocator Map -- be sure to select the "Trout Stream Fishing Access" layer to view PFR easements and available parking areas on the map. At this time, the map is most user-friendly on a desktop, laptop, or tablet device. A mobile-friendly version will be available in the future.
Google Maps and Google Earth
"Public Fishing Rivers and Streams" and "Public Fishing Stream Parking Areas" are available to download for viewing PFR easements and parking areas on Google Earth and Google Maps.