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Freshwater Fishing Regulation Simplification and Clean-up Proposal

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposes amending sportfishing regulations that includes a multitude of changes to clarify, simplify and clean-up fisheries regulations based on public feedback and Fisheries Managers review of the rules associated with the management of the State's fisheries. The proposed rulemaking also includes a limited number of waterbody specific regulation changes for improved management.

Summary of Proposed Regulation Changes

Review the Summary of Proposed Fishing Regulations. Reviewing this summary is necessary to understand what is being proposed and why the proposals were made.

Highlights of the Proposal

Highlights of the proposal include:

Trout

Establish new rules for trout management in ponded waters by creating distinct regulations for Brook Trout versus Brown and Rainbow Trout as follows:

  • Establish a statewide Brook Trout in lakes and ponds regulation from April 1 to October 15 with a daily limit of 5 fish any size with no more than 2 longer than 12".
  • Establish a statewide Rainbow and Brown Trout in lakes and ponds regulation all year with a daily limit of 5 fish any size with no more than 2 longer than 12".

These proposals eliminate 142 waterbody special regulations and manage those waters under the proposed statewide regulation. These proposals also eliminate 33 county-wide lake and ponds trout regulations in DEC Regions 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9 and managed those waters under the proposed statewide regulations. The proposals seeks to better align regulations with intended outcomes. Most inland ponds and lakes stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout are managed for put-and-take or put-grow-and-take fisheries. Waters managed for these species and purpose are proposed to be open all year. Brook trout are managed to achieve self-sustaining populations where possible and put-grow-and-take fisheries if not possible. To protect wild brook trout during their spawning season and protect them during the vulnerable ice fishing season, a closed season from October 16 and March 31 is appropriate. The closed season is also consistent with ice fishing prohibited regulation on most brook trout waters.

Read A Proposal to Change New York's Trout Pond Fishing Regulations (PDF) for a list of waters and counties where trout regulations are proposed to be deleted.

Lake Trout

Remove the statewide closed season restriction on lake trout. Keeping the season open year-round consolidates 22 lake trout waterbody special regulations into statewide regulations. An additional 6 lake trout regulations are also proposed to be eliminated because they are no longer necessary.

Read Proposed Lake Trout Regulations (PDF) for a list of waters where those regulations are proposed to be deleted.

Atlantic Salmon

Remove the statewide closed season restriction on Atlantic Salmon. Keeping the season open year-round consolidates 33 Atlantic salmon waterbody special regulations into statewide regulations that are consistent with current management practices as most Atlantic salmon fisheries are managed under special regulation, not statewide regulation. An additional 5 Atlantic salmon special regulations are also proposed to be eliminated.

Read Proposed Atlantic Salmon Regulations (PDF) for a list of waters where those regulations are proposed to be deleted.

Ice Fishing

Allow ice fishing unless specifically prohibited in New York, except for Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties, where the existing "ice fishing is prohibited unless specifically permitted in waters inhabited by trout" regulation will still apply. Trout fishing in ponds is currently allowed in most other waters, so allowing it statewide with the 9 county exception will reduce the number of special regulations needed overall.

Season Dates

Provide consistency in how the State represents opening and closing fishing season dates for sport fish. DEC currently uses a mixed approach for season dates. Some species seasons begin on a hard calendar year date while others start on a designated Saturday. Based on results of an angler poll (PDF) conducted in 2021, all sportfish seasons will begin and end on hard dates. Specific changes include changing the statewide opening date to:

  • May 1 for Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel and Tiger Muskellunge;
  • June 1 for Muskellunge; and
  • June 15 for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

Special regulations for these species will be aligned with new season dates.

Other proposed regulation changes include:

  • Eliminating the current 3 fish per day daily limit for walleye in Oneida Lake and reverting to the statewide 5 fish per day creel limit due to the abundant adult walleye population (PDF).
  • Correcting a previous rule change omission by changing the daily limit for steelhead on the Lower Niagara River from 3 fish per day to 2 fish per day.
  • Establishing a no limit, all year season and 12" minimum length-restriction for walleye on Skaneateles Lake to suppress this introduced species, which has the potential to negatively impact the lake's high-quality trout and salmon fishery.
  • Banning snatching and spearing in select waters.

The full text and a text summary with rationale of the proposed regulations are available below.

Supporting Documents/Webpages

The following documents provide additional information on the proposed regulation changes:

Commenting on the Fishing Regulation Clean-up Proposals

Comments on the proposals should be submitted via e-mail to regulations.fish@dec.ny.gov or via mail to the Inland Fisheries Section, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753, with the subject line "Fishing Regulations Proposal Comments." Comments will be accepted through February 6, 2022.


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