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For Release: Thursday, February 16, 2012

DEC Announces Proposed Changes to Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations

Changes to the current freshwater fishing regulations designed to enhance fishing opportunities and protect the state's freshwater fisheries were announced today by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC will accept public comments on the proposals through April 2, 2012.

"New York provides some of the best fishing in the nation and every two years DEC modifies existing freshwater sportfishing regulations and proposes new regulations to help ensure this remains the case," said Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources Kathleen Moser. "We encourage anglers to review these proposed changes and provide DEC with comments."

The proposed regulation changes are the result of careful assessment of the status of existing fish populations and the desires of anglers for enhanced fishing opportunities. Several of the changes being considered are to remove special regulations that are no longer warranted.

In order to receive input early in the process, changes under consideration for this proposal were available on DEC's website earlier this year for comment. This feedback, in addition to comments received from angling interest groups, provided essential input to the development of the regulation changes that are now being formally proposed. Below are highlights of the proposed changes.

Draft regulation changes that pertain to walleye:

  • Establish a special walleye regulation of 18-inch minimum size and three per day in Lake Pleasant and Sacandaga Lake (Hamilton County) to aid restoration of the walleye populations in these waters.
  • Prohibit fishing in the following stream sections from March 16 until the first Saturday in May (opening day for walleye) to protect spawning walleye: Lake Pleasant outlet to the mouth of the Kunjamuk River (Hamilton County); Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County) from the intersection of the channelized area next to Koster Drive downstream of the State Route 3 bridge to the lower boundary of the public fishing rights section located upstream of the State Route 3 bridge; and Catskill Creek (Greene County) from the Route 9W bridge upstream to the dam in Leeds.
  • Remove special walleye regulations (18-inch minimum size and three per day) and apply the statewide regulation (15-inch minimum size and five per day) for Lime Lake (Cattaraugus County) and Bear and Findley lakes (Chautauqua County) because these populations no longer require the added protection provided by the special regulation.
  • Change the walleye daily limit for Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River to six per day to harmonize limits with bordering jurisdictions.

Draft regulation changes that pertain to black bass:

Eliminate the special black bass closed season for Oneida Lake and implement statewide regulations to create additional fishing opportunities and expand statewide consistency, as continuance of this special closed season is not warranted.

  • Apply statewide black bass regulations for Allen Lake (Allegany County) and Cassadaga Lake (Chautauqua County) as recent surveys have shown stable bass populations in these waters.

Draft regulations that pertain to trout and salmon:

Extend the catch and release only regulation for brook trout into tidal streams in Suffolk County to provide additional protection to brook trout populations that spend part of their life in marine waters and offer a unique angling experience.

  • Eliminate Suffolk County tidal trout regulations and apply freshwater stream trout regulations to these sections because the anticipated sea run brown trout fishery did not develop.
  • Change minimum length for salmonids in the Upper Niagara River to "any size" because the current 12-inch minimum length is no longer necessary and this will also eliminate the need for special tributary regulations.
  • Change the trout regulations for the Titicus Outlet (Westchester County) and Esopus Creek, Shandaken tunnel outlet to Ashokan Reservoir (Ulster County) to a daily limit of five fish with no more than two trout longer than 12 inches to increase catch rates of larger trout.
  • Delete the 12-inch size and three fish per day limit for kokanee salmon in Glass Lake (Rensselaer County) because DEC no longer stocks this species.
  • Open Lake Kushaqua and Rollins Pond (Franklin County) to ice fishing for lake trout as these populations are considered stable enough to support this activity.
  • Open Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Gilman Lake, South Pond and Utowana Lake (Hamilton County) to ice fishing for landlocked salmon and reduce the daily limit for lake trout in these waters from three per day to two per day. Combined with an existing regulation this change will create a suite of nine lakes in Hamilton County that will have the same ice fishing regulations for lake trout and landlocked salmon.
  • Delete the catch and release trout regulation for Jordan River from Carry Falls Reservoir upstream to Franklin County line (St. Lawrence County) because this regulation is considered inappropriate for this remote stream section.
  • Implement a 12-inch minimum size for brown trout in Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the opportunity to return more brown trout to the creel.
  • Reduce the limit of rainbow trout from five to one in the western Finger Lakes and three to one in the tributaries to provide further protection for this species. Western Finger Lakes include Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Canadice, and Hemlock Lakes.
  • Remove the restriction of no more than three lake trout as part of the five trout limit in the western Finger Lakes to foster harvest opportunities and reduce competition with other trout species and impacts on the forage base.
  • Eliminate trout catch and release section for Ischua Creek (Cattaraugus County) in the village of Franklinville to enhance angling opportunities by allowing beginner and young anglers to use the section of stream and keep fish.
  • Change the minimum size limit for rainbow trout in Skaneateles Lake (Onondaga, Cayuga and Cortland counties) and Owasco Lake (Cayuga County) from nine inches to 15 inches. This would create consistency with the other Finger Lakes as most of these lakes have environmental conditions that support excellent growth of trout and would provide angling opportunities for large fish.
  • Add the tributaries of Beaverdam Brook (Oswego County) from their mouths to the upstream boundary of the Salmon River Hatchery property to the current Beaverdam Brook fishing closure (which also currently prohibits fishing within 100 yards of any DEC fish collection device). This addition of the tributaries would make oversight and enforcement of this area more effective in safeguarding fish returning to the hatchery.
  • Delete the special trout regulation for Palmer Lake (Saratoga County) to match the statewide regulation. This minor adjustment would extend the season 15 days.

Draft regulations that pertain to pickerel, muskellunge and tiger muskellunge:

Institute a catch and release only regulation for chain pickerel in Deep Pond (Suffolk County) to allow the pickerel population to recover from over exploitation and increase needed predator control over panfish.

  • Implement a 40-inch size limit for muskellunge and tiger muskellunge in the Chenango, Tioughnioga, Tioga and Susquehanna rivers (Chenango, Cortland, Broome and Tioga counties) and a 36-inch size limit at Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the trophy potential of these species in these waters.

Draft regulations that pertain to ice fishing and baitfish:

Delete special ice fishing regulation for Square Pond (Franklin County) because this water will no longer be managed for trout.

  • Eliminate the existing ban on the use of tip-ups in Crumhorn Lake (Otsego County) because this is an unnecessary regulation.
  • Allow ice fishing on stocked trout lakes in Allegany, Niagara, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Erie and Cattaraugus counties unless otherwise stated. These lakes are managed for put and take trout fishing and they contain warm water fish species that should be available to anglers during the winter months through the ice.
  • Open specific waters to ice fishing currently deemed as trout waters in the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence Counties as ice fishing can be allowed for at these locations.
  • Provide for ice fishing at a privately managed water in Hamilton County (Salmon Pond) that is stocked with trout by a private party, as requested.
  • Include Cayuta Lake (Schuyler County) as a designated water from which baitfish may be taken as the commercial harvest of alewife should have no negative effect on the alewife population or the lake's ecology.

Draft regulations that pertain to gear and angling methods:

More clearly specify that attempting to take fish by snagging is prohibited.

  • Permit the use of multiple hooks with multiple points on Lake Erie tributaries to provide additional angling opportunities.
  • For the Salmon River (Oswego County) allow a bead chain to be attached to floating lures. The distance between a floating lure and hook point may not exceed three-and-a-half inches when a bead chain configuration is used. This was determined to be an effective angling method and was not considered an attractive snagging device.
  • For the Salmon River (Oswego County) implement a "no weight" restriction (i.e., only floating line and unweighted leaders and flies allowed) from May 1 - 15 for the Lower Fly Area and from May 1 - August 31 for the Upper Fly Area to provide further protection to vulnerable fish.
  • Explicitly and clearly indicate that the catch and release requirement for New York City waters does not apply to snakeheads and that any snakeheads caught while angling are not to be returned to the water.

DEC is proposing additional regulation changes to remove special regulations that are no longer relevant, to provide more clarity in the current regulations and to make minor adjustments to current language. The full text of the draft regulation as well as instructions for submitting comments can be found on DEC's website at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.

Comments on the proposals can be sent via e-mail to fishregs@gw.dec.state.ny.us, or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State DEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text can be requested from Shaun Keeler at the same addresses listed above. Final regulations, following full review of public comments, will take effect October 1, 2012.

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