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For Release: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

DEC Announces New Proposed Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations

Public Comments Accepted Through December 1, 2014

Regulations Schedule to be Effective April 2015

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting comments on proposed changes to the freshwater fishing regulations through December 1, 2014, Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"New York provides some of the best fishing in the nation, and the continuous assessment and modification of sportfishing regulations helps ensure that this remains the case," said Commissioner Martens. "I encourage anglers to review what is being proposed and provide input if they wish to do so during the public comment period."

DEC modifies the sportfishing regulations approximately every two years as part of DEC's commitment to enhance fishing opportunities and protect the State's freshwater resources.

DEC assessed the status of existing freshwater sportfish populations and the desires of anglers in developing the proposed regulations. In addition, many of the proposed changes are the result of DEC's efforts to consolidate regulations where possible and eliminate special regulations that are no longer warranted or have become outdated.

The new sportfishing regulations are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2015. The regulations in the 2013-14 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide will remain in effect until the new regulations are enacted. Once enacted, a new regulations guide will be available.

To receive input early in the process, DEC made the proposed changes available to the public on its website in July 2013. The early feedback helped DEC determine which regulation changes to advance further or to eliminate from further consideration.

Comments on the proposals can be sent by email to regulations.fish@dec.ny.gov or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.

The full text of the proposed regulations are also available on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html. The proposed changes include:

  • Establish a closed statewide season for sauger, an extremely rare fish species in New York for which DEC completed a conservation plan in 2013;
  • Modify the statewide regulation for muskellunge by increasing the minimum size limit to 40 inches and lengthen the season by three weeks to start on the last Saturday in May;
  • Provide consistency between the proposed statewide muskellunge regulation changes and the existing muskellunge regulations for specific waters including Lake Champlain, and St. Lawrence County rivers and streams, as well as for both muskellunge and tiger muskellunge at Chautauqua Lake;
  • Increase the minimum size limit for muskellunge to 54 inches in the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River;
  • Increase the minimum size limit for walleye at Honeoye Lake from 15 to 18 inches;
  • Establish year round trout seasons, with catch and release fishing only from October 16 through March 31, in the following streams in Western New York: Chenunda Creek, Oatka Creek, Clear Creek, Fenton Brook, Prendergast Creek, and waters in Allegany State Park;
  • Initiate a catch and release season for trout for sections of the Salmon River (Franklin County) and Ninemile Creek (Onondaga County), and extend the catch and release season at Fall Creek (Cayuga Lake);
  • Establish a special trout regulation of a daily creel limit of five fish with no more than two fish longer than 12 inches, in Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties, Little River and Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County, and Oriskany Creek (Oneida County);
  • Establish an all-year trout season, with a 12-inch minimum size limit and daily limit of three fish, at Hinckley and Prospect Reservoirs in Herkimer and Oneida counties, Millsite Lake in Jefferson County, North Lake in Herkimer County, and for an additional section of the North Branch Saranac River in Franklin and Clinton counties;
  • Apply the current trout and salmon special regulations for the Fulton Chain of lakes to the connected water body Old Forge Pond;
  • Establish a 15-inch minimum size limit for lake trout and clarify that the statewide regulations apply for other species for Owasco Outlet (Cayuga County);
  • Modify trout and/or salmon regulations for Star Lake and Trout Lake (St. Lawrence County), by increasing the minimum size limit for trout to 12 inches and reducing the daily creel limit to three. Allow fishing all year for landlocked salmon in Star Lake, with ice fishing permitted;
  • Establish an open year-round trout season for Sylvia Lake (St. Lawrence County), with a 12-inch minimum size limit and three fish daily creel limit, with ice fishing permitted; and
  • Provide consistency for the brook trout regulations for all waters within the Massawepie Conservation Easement Area.
  • Extend Great Lakes tributary Regulations upstream to the section of the Genesee River (Monroe County) from State Route 104 Bridge upstream to the Lower Falls;
  • Exempt Old Seneca Lake Inlet from the Finger Lakes tributary regulations;
  • Adjust the allowable fishing hours for Spring Creek on the Caledonia Fish Hatchery property by a half hour;
  • Clarify in regulation a definition for "catch and release fishing" as well as define the limitations of handling the incidental catch of untargeted species.

Several changes to eliminate special regulations that are no longer warranted, and where the statewide regulations can be applied include to:

  • Delete the special minimum size and daily creel limit walleye regulation for Fern Lake (Clinton County), Lake Algonquin (Hamilton County), and Franklin Falls Flow, Lower Saranac Lake and Rainbow Lake in Franklin County, and Tully Lake (Onondaga County);
  • Eliminate the special regulations (examples being minimum size limit, daily creel limit, season length and/or method of take) for trout, landlocked salmon and/or lake trout, at several waters including Schoharie Reservoir, Susquehanna River (between Otsego and Goodyear Lakes), Launt Pond (Delaware County), Basswood Pond (Otsego County), Lake Algonquin (Hamilton County), Jennings Park Pond (Hamilton County), Hoosic River and Little Hoosic River (Rensselaer County), Hudson River (Saratoga County), Clear and Wheeler Ponds (Herkimer County), Cold Brook (St. Lawrence County), and West Branch of the St. Regis River (St. Lawrence County);
  • Eliminate the special brown trout and landlocked salmon regulations (minimum size limit, daily creel limit and season length) at Otsego Lake;
  • Eliminate the 10-inch minimum size limit for black bass at Lily Pond and Pack Forest Lake in Warren County, eliminate the "all year - any size" special regulation for black bass at Cayuta Creek in Tioga County, and adopt a consistent minimum size limit for black bass for sections of the Schoharie Creek at 10 inches;
  • Eliminate the daily creel limit special regulation for sunfish and yellow perch in Cumberland Bay (Lake Champlain);
  • Eliminate the minimum size limit special regulation for lake trout in the Essex Chain of Lakes;
  • Eliminate the separate special regulation for trout for Ischua Creek, and apply the Cattaraugus County regulation; and
  • Delete the special regulation for Follensby Clear Pond (Franklin County) that permits ice fishing but prohibits the use of tip-ups.

Proposed changes that are Baitfish and non-game fish related include to:

  • Prohibit the use of fish as bait in newly acquired trout waters: Fish Hole Pond and Balsam Pond in Franklin County; and Clear Pond in Washington County;
  • Remove the baitfish prohibition on Harlow Lake, Genesee County;
  • Remove all the currently listed eligible waters for the commercial collection of baitfish: in Clinton County except Lake Champlain; in Essex County except Lake Champlain and Lake Flower; in Franklin County except Lake Flower, Lower Saranac Lake, Raquette River, Tupper Lake and Upper Saranac Lake; in Fulton County; in Hamilton County except Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and Long Lake; in Saratoga County except the Hudson River, Lake Lonely and outlet Lake Lonely to Kayaderosseras Creek, Mohawk River and Saratoga Lake; in Warren County except the Hudson River; and in Washington County except the Hudson River and Lake Champlain;
  • Add madtoms and stonecats to the approved list of fish that may be used, collected and sold as baitfish;
  • Eliminate "snatching" of burbot in Scomotion Creek (Clinton County);
  • Eliminate smelt "dipping" in Raquette Lake;
  • Adjust smelt regulations for Cayuga and Owasco Lakes, for consistency with five Western Finger Lakes;
  • Eliminate the prohibition on taking smelt and suckers with a scap or dip net in Willow Creek (Tompkins County); and
  • Remove the allowance for snatching lake whitefish at Otsego Lake.

Proposed changes related to gear and use of gear include:

  • Streamline what devices may be used for ice fishing by modifying the statewide regulation to allow for a total of seven ice fishing devices/lines; modify the language pertaining to devices for ice fishing to allow for a total of 15 ice fishing devices/lines for Lake Champlain;
  • Eliminate the gear restrictions at Follensby Clear Pond (Franklin County) that permit ice fishing but prohibit the use of tip-ups;
  • With the exception of the Salmon River, permit the use of floating lures with multiple hooks with multiple hook points, on all Lake Ontario tributaries;
  • Clarify the definition of floating lures on Lake Ontario tributaries to: "A floating lure is a lure that floats while at rest in water with or without any weight attached to the line, leader, or lure";
  • Clarify that the current regulation for the Great Lake tributaries restricting the use of hooks with added weight was not intended to ban the use of small jigs;
  • Weight added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lures such that it hangs below the hook is currently prohibited in the Salmon River and Lake Ontario tributaries in Oswego and Cayuga Counties from September 1 through March 31 of the following year. This proposal would extend this prohibition to all Lake Ontario tributaries;
  • Clarify that the use of multiple hooks with multiple hook points on Lake Erie tributaries is legal, as well as clarify that the use of flies with up to two hook points is legal on all Great Lake tributaries;
  • Replace Lake Ontario tributary regulations for St. Lawrence River tributaries in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties with statewide terminal tackle restrictions;
  • Redefine the upstream limit for spearfishing on the Salmon River (Franklin County);
  • Clarify the description of gear (gill nets) that are allowed in the Finger Lakes for the collection of alewives for personal use as bait; and
  • Reinstate the prohibition on large landing nets (nets larger than 50 inches around the frame or with a handle longer than 20 inches) for Finger Lakes tributaries except for those sections that are specifically identified.

In addition to the above, several non-substantive regulation modifications are included to properly establish or clarify an earlier regulation change, better define an existing regulation (by rewording etc.), and/or address regulations that have not changed but are now redundant and covered elsewhere in the regulations including as a result of consolidation.

In support of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, this year's budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

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