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Sunfish and Crappie Management


Review the Big Panfish Initiative
Study Plan, 2021-2026
(PDF) for more details
on how DEC plans to manage sunfish and
crappie populations to ensure more sustainable
fisheries in the future.

Sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, and redbreast sunfish) and crappie (black crappie and white crappie) are widespread and abundant throughout New York and are popular with anglers. These species generally provide harvest-based fisheries and there is concern that liberal regulations could result in overharvest and lead to less than ideal size structures and lower quality fishing.

Statewide Regulations

More conservative statewide fishing regulations were recently enacted for these species to help provide sustainable quality fisheries in waters across the State.

As of April 1, 2022 the new statewide regulations are:

  • Sunfish: 25 per day, no minimum size, no closed season
  • Crappie: 25 per day, 10-inch minimum size, no closed season

Big Panfish Initiative (BPI)

In addition, the Big Panfish Initiative (BPI) was developed to create destination fisheries for larger size panfish in select waters. The BPI is an experimental program that is being conducted to determine the impacts of lower harvest and minimum size limits on sunfish population age and size structure in select lakes throughout New York and to evaluate the level of angler satisfaction with this management strategy. The BPI also includes an assessment of crappie population age and growth characteristics in select waters to determine if those waters have the potential to yield larger fish under more conservative harvest regulations.

The BPI was initiated on April 1, 2022 and includes:

  • Implementing and assessing the impact of a special regulation for sunfish: 15 per day, 8-inch minimum size, no closed season in the following waters:
    • Blydenburgh Lake (DEC Region 1)
    • Lake Welch (Region 3)
    • Canadarago Lake and Goodyear Lake (Region 4)
    • Saratoga Lake (Region 5)
    • Sixtown Pond and Red Lake (Region 6)
    • Cazenovia Lake and Otisco Lake (Region 7)
    • Honeoye Lake (Region 8)
    • Silver Lake (Region 9)
Bluegill (top image) and angler with crappie (bottom image)
  • Assessing crappie population age and size structure in the following waters under statewide catch limits to determine if more conservative regulations will benefit these fisheries in the future:
    • Blydenburgh Lake (Region 1)
    • Muscoot Reservoir (Region 3)
    • Saratoga Lake (Region 5)
    • Delta Lake (Region 6)
    • Cazenovia Lake and Otisco Lake (Region 7)
    • Waneta/Lamoka lakes and Honeoye Lake (Region 8)
    • Bear Lake (Region 9)

Assessments will be conducted annually through 2026. If necessary, adjustments to the regulations will be made based on the recommendations of the final program evaluation.

BPI Study Plan

Download and view the Big Panfish Initiative Study Plan, 2021-2026 (PDF) for more details on how DEC plans to manage sunfish and crappie populations and ensure more sustainable fisheries in the future.