Can I do fishing in Central Park? 

There may be something shocking about pulling a largemouth bass from a body of water surrounded by concrete and tourists, but the truth is you CAN wet a line and hook some decent fish in Central Park. In fact, fishing is a popular community activity in Central Park.


Where can I fish in Central Park?


Catch-and-release fishing in Central Park is allowed at three specific locations including Harlem Meer, Central Park Lake, and Central Park Pond. The best place to fish is probably Harlem Meer located on the northeast corner. But fishing is NOT allowed at the reservoir or at the Turtle Pond. The best season to fish is from April to October. And though Central Park is open from 6am to 1am, it is best to fish from 10am to 3pm when you can access equipment from the Charles A. Danna Discovery Center. 


What equipment do I need for fishing?


Usually, from mid-April to mid-October you can borrow bamboo fishing poles from the Dana Discovery Center. It is located on the north shore. All you need to borrow poles is a valid picture I.D. and bait is provided for free. But this is mostly just for the kids. With a valid state fishing license, you can actually fish with your own complaint gear. A light to a medium fishing rod with a six to a ten pound test will do just fine. In recent years, there has also been a major push to use corn as bait. Worms and artificial baits can impact the park’s ecosystem.


What types of fish are in Central Park?


The bodies of water in Central Park contain carp, largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, golden shiner, pumpkinseed sunfish, anglers, and chain pickerel.

Fishing Central Park

What are the fishing rules and regulations?


By following the guidelines under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation you can help preserve these marine resources for future use and enjoyment. Here are some of the regulations to follow if you intend to fish in Central Park:

  1. All visitors 16 and older need to own a New York State fishing license for local freshwater fishing in Central Park.
  2. All fishing is catch-and-release only. That means any fish caught must be put back into the water right away. You must release fish gently. Wet your hands before handling the fish and release it while it is underwater.
  3. Use safe fishing equipment. The use of any barbed hooks, lead sinkers, or overhead casting rods is prohibited. Barbless hooks are easier to remove and cause fewer injuries to the fish. Non-stainless steel hooks are also recommended because they will rust and disintegrate much faster than stainless steel hooks. And to avoid harming any wildlife, you must properly discard any monofilament line. Failure to remove line and hooks from land and waters is a violation of these rules.
  4. Fish with compliant bait (corn kernels), like that provided by the Dana Center. Using bread products or hotdogs as bait is harmful to both wildlife and the bodies of water. 
  5. Respect the waterfowl and turtles in the area. If your hook is near a bird or turtle you should move to a different spot to avoid catching it.
  6. Do not feed the other wildlife. Digging for worms and feeding other wildlife is strictly prohibited.
  7. Stay on paths, steps, and ramps close to the water. Tramping the natural shorelines or wading in the water will kill the grass. This leads to soil erosion and can create poor living conditions for the wildlife in the area.


If you cause no harm to the property or the wildlife and are sure to follow all the rules, the park’s management will be quite helpful and friendly. They will make sure your fishing experience in Central Park is fun and unforgettable.

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