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Considerations for Great Lakes Sportfish Regulation Changes for 2020

The Department is currently considering the following potential Great Lakes sportfishing regulation changes and is interested in soliciting feedback on what may be proposed later this year.

How to submit input

To submit input regarding any of the possible changes being considered:

  • send an email to regulations.fish@dec.ny.gov

  • Include the following subject line: "Possible Great Lakes Fishing Regulation Changes [ID number of the regulation you are commenting on, such as "2020_GL 01"]."

For your convenience, each "Email a comment" link below each potential regulation change will fill in the "To:" and "Subject:" lines with the correct information. To ensure we receive and can properly review your suggestions, you must leave the subject line as it appears on the e-mail, and be sure to indicate the ID # (s) of the regulation(s) you are commenting on.

Please send a separate email for each potential regulation change you would like to make suggestions on!

Input will be collected through February 28, 2019.

Note: Due to the high volume of e-mails received, the Department will be unable to reply to individual submissions. All input will be reviewed and considered towards developing a proposed rule making consisting of sportfishing regulation changes that, if accepted, would become effective April 1, 2020.

Great Lakes regulations under consideration

Extend the open season for lake trout in Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River (2020_GL 01)

Email a comment

Description: Open the Lake Ontario/Lower Niagara River lake trout season on December 1 (currently opens January 1). The season would be closed from October 1 through November 30.

Rationale: Anglers targeting rainbow trout/steelhead in the Lower Niagara River frequently catch lake trout. Since lake trout spawning is largely over by the end of November, opening the lake trout season on December 1 will provide anglers with additional opportunities to harvest trophy lake trout without jeopardizing lake trout restoration efforts.

Reduce the daily creel limit for brown trout in Lake Ontario tributaries (2020_GL_02)

Email a comment

Description: Reduce the daily creel limit for brown trout in Lake Ontario tributaries from 3 fish per day to 1 fish per day (excluding the Lower Niagara River).

Rationale: This potential change is intended to prolong high quality brown trout fishing opportunities through the winter months, while still allowing anglers the opportunity to harvest a trophy fish. Fishing effort on Lake Ontario tributaries can be intense each year from fall through spring, and maintaining high quality brown trout fishing opportunities relies on anglers releasing a high proportion of their catch.

Increase the minimum size limit for rainbow trout/steelhead on Lake Ontario tributaries (2020_GL_03)

Email a comment

Description: Increase the minimum size limit for rainbow trout/steelhead on Lake Ontario tributaries from 21" to 25" (excluding the Lower Niagara River).

Rationale: This potential change is intended to prolong high quality rainbow trout/steelhead fishing opportunities through the winter months, while still allowing anglers the opportunity to harvest a trophy fish. Anglers have noted smaller rainbow trout/steelhead in recent years, and declining rainbow trout/steelhead fishing success as the winter season progresses.

Decrease the daily creel limit for rainbow trout/steelhead on Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River (2020_GL_04)

Email a comment

Description: Reduce the daily creel limit for rainbow trout/steelhead on Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara River from 3 fish per day to 2 fish per day.

Rationale: Rainbow trout/steelhead provide the primary sportfishery in Lake Ontario's tributaries from November through the following spring. This potential change is designed to increase numbers and sustainability of rainbow trout/steelhead in the tributary fishery by reducing open lake harvest during periods when Chinook fishing success in the lake declines and more anglers specifically target rainbow trout/steelhead.

Eliminate special Lake Erie tributary regulations applied to Spooner Creek and North Branch of Clear Creek (Erie County) (2020_GL_05)

Email a comment

Description: Angling on Spooner Creek and the North Branch of Clear Creek is currently closed each year from January 1 through March 31rst. Under this potential change, anglers would be able to fish species with an open season during the period January 1 through March 31rst.

Rationale: The original intent of these regulations was to protect adult steelhead and promote natural reproduction in these two tributaries. More recent research has indicated that juvenile habitat is the factor limiting wild steelhead production, not the number of adults. Moreover, these regulations apply to stream sections that are entirely privately owned and are posted, significantly limiting angling pressure.