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Great Lakes and Tributaries Special Regulations

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Statewide seasons and limits apply, except as listed below.

General Regulations

The Great Lakes and Tributaries Special Regulations apply to the following waters in New York:

  • Lake Erie
  • Niagara River (both upper and lower sections)
  • Lake Ontario
  • St. Lawrence River
  • All designated sections of the tributaries to the above listed waters, which are generally defined as the bridge closest to the mouth upstream to the first barrier impassable to fish. Tributaries with different boundaries and exemptions are listed separately. (Note: there are also seasonal tackle and night fishing restrictions in the tributaries)

The following regulations apply at all times for all Great Lakes waters as listed above:

  • Snatching (see Definitions) and attempting to snatch is prohibited.
  • All foul-hooked fish must be immediately released without unnecessary injury.
  • Use or possession of gaff hooks is prohibited, except when ice fishing.
  • Any action to frighten fish and move them from concealment, including herding, driving, kicking, or stoning, is prohibited.
  • The use of fish eggs for chumming is prohibited.

Lake Erie and Tributaries Regulations

Seasons and Limits || Seasonal Regulations for Tributaries || Catch and Release Regulations

Seasons and Limits for Lake Erie and Tributaries
Seasons and Limits Regulations apply from Lake Erie upstream to the Springville Dam for Cattaraugus Creek.
See additional tables below for Seasonal and Catch and Release Regulations
Species Open Season Minimum Length Daily Limit
Black Bass December 1 - June 14 20" 1
June 15 - November 30 12" 5
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon All year 12" 3 in any combination
Lake Trout All year 12" 1
Brook Trout April 1 - October 15 None 5
Northern Pike May 1 - March 15 22" 5
Walleye May 1 - March 15 15" 6
Muskellunge, Tiger Muskellunge June 15 - December 15 54" 1
Special Seasonal Regulations for Lake Erie Tributaries
Seasonal Regulations for Tributaries
Location Season Hours Gear Regulations
Stream reaches where seasonal regulations apply:
  • Cattaraugus Creek: From the Aldrich Street Extension Bridge in Gowanda upstream to the Springville Dam
  • Buffalo River and Tributaries: From the I-90 (NYS Thruway) bridge upstream to the first barrier impassable by fish
  • All other Lake Erie Tributaries: From bridge closest to the mouth upstream to the first barrier impassable by fish
September 1 - March 31 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset (fishing at night is prohibited)
  • The distance between a hook's shaft and point cannot exceed 1/2 inch
  • Hooks attached to any lure must be free-swinging, except on an artificial fly (see Definitions) or jigs
Catch and Release Regulations for Select Lake Erie Tributaries
Catch and Release Regulations for Trout and Salmon
Location Regulations
Stream reaches where Catch and Release Regulations apply:
  • Chautauqua Creek: From the bridge on South Gale Street upstream 1.3 miles to the upper Village of Westfield water intake dam
  • Eighteenmile Creek (Erie County): Main branch of the creek (excluding South Branch) contained within Eighteenmile Creek County Park
  • Catch and Release only for trout and salmon
  • Only artificial lures can be used in Catch and Release sections
  • Seasonal regulations regarding hooks apply (see table above)

Niagara River and Tributaries Regulations

Upper Niagara River and Tributaries Seasons and Limits Statewide Gear Restrictions apply
Species Open Season Minimum Length Daily Limit
Black Bass (north of the Peace Bridge) Statewide Angling Regulations apply
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (Including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon All year None 3 in any combination
Lake Trout All year 12" 1
Brook Trout April 1 - October 15 None 5
Northern Pike May 1 - March 15 22" 5
Walleye May 1 - March 15 15" 6
Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge June 15 - December 15 54" 1
Lower Niagara River and Tributaries Seasons and Limits Statewide Gear Restrictions apply
Species Open Season Minimum Length Daily Limit
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon All year 15", except 21" for Rainbow Trout 3 (Trout & Salmon) in any combination, not to include more than 1 Atlantic Salmon, 2 rainbow trout (steelhead), or 2 Lake Trout
Lake Trout December 1 - September 30 None, except only 1 Lake Trout may be between 25" and 30"
Atlantic Salmon All year 25"
Brook Trout April 1 - October 15 none 5
Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge June 15 - December 15 54" 1
Northern Pike May 1 - March 15 22" 5
Walleye January 1 - March 15 18" 1
May 1 - December 31 18" 3
American Eel Closed Possession prohibited

Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, and Tributaries Regulations

Seasons and Limits || Seasonal Regulations || Salmon River and Tributaries Special Regulations || Salmon River Fly Fishing Catch and Release || Examples of Legal Seasonal Fishing Rigs

Seasons and Limits for Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence, and Tributaries
Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence, and Tributaries Seasons and Limits
Species Open Season Minimum Length Daily Limit
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon All year 15", except for Rainbow Trout or Steelhead: 21" in the lake and 25" in tributaries 3 in combination, not to include more than 2 Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) in the lake, and not to include more than 1 Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) and 1 Brown Trout in the tributaries
Except 9" and 3 fish daily for Brown Trout in Irondequoit Creek upstream of the south side of Rte. 286 bridges, Lindsey Creek, and the Black River from Dexter Dam to Mill Street Dam (Jefferson County)
Lake Trout December 1 - September 30 None (except no more than 1 shall be between 25" and 30") 2
Atlantic Salmon All year 25" 1
Brook Trout April 1 - October 15 none 5
Northern Pike (Lake Ontario) May 1 - March 15 22" 5
Northern Pike (St. Lawrence River and tributaries downstream of Tibbets Point) May 1 - March 15 22" 3
Black Bass Statewide Species Regulations apply, except that fishing for black bass (including Catch and Release) is prohibited December 1-June 14 in Lake Ontario and tributaries in Jefferson County and the St. Lawrence River and tributaries
Walleye May 1 - March 15 18" 3
Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge June 15 - December 15 54" 1
American Eel Closed Possession prohibited
Yellow Perch All year None 50, except Yellow Perch may be taken in any number in Jefferson County, except Sandy Pond

EXCEPTIONS:

Lake Ontario Tributary Seasonal Regulations
Seasonal Regulations for Lake Ontario Tributaries
Location Season Hours Gear Regulations
Black River: From the upstream tip of the lowermost island to Mill St. Dam in Watertown

Catfish Creek: From the mouth upstream to the dam at County Rte. 1

Eighteenmile Creek (Niagara County): From the Rte. 18 bridge upstream to Burt Dam

Oak Orchard Creek: From the 1st power lines that are 1.9 miles upstream (south) of the Rte. 18 bridge upstream to Waterport Dam

Genesee River: From the State Rte. 104 bridge upstream to the Lower Falls

Oswego River: From the Utica St. Bridge upstream to the Varick Dam

Sterling Creek: From Old State Rd. to the 1st impassable barrier upstream of Rte. 104A

Sterling Valley Creek: From McIntyre Rd. to the 1st impassable barrier upstream of Rte. 104A

All Other Tributaries (except for those listed below): From the bridge closest to the mouth upstream to the 1st barrier impassable by fish
Seasonal fishing regulations apply September 1 - March 31 Fishing from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise is prohibited, except in the Black River (Jefferson County) from Lake Ontario upstream to the Rte. 180 bridge in Dexter, where fishing is permitted at all times Hooks:
  • Only one hook with a single hook point is permitted, except as outlined below for floating lures and artificial flies.
  • Hooks attached to any lure must be free-swinging, except on an artificial fly (see Definitions) or jigs.
  • An artificial fly can only have a single hook with no more than two hook points. Tandem artificial flies are not permitted.
  • The gap between a hook's shaft and point cannot exceed 1/2 inch.
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except artificial flies and jigs weighing no more than 1/8 oz.
Floating lures:
  • A floating lure is a lure that floats at rest in water with or without any weight attached to the lure, leader, or line.
  • Can have multiple treble hooks.
  • Any hooks on a floating lure must be attached to the lure by a ring or swivel, except for artificial flies.
  • The distance between the body of a floating lure and the points of any attached hooks shall not exceed 1 1/2 inches.
Leaders and weights:
  • The distance between the hook, artificial fly or lure, and any weight attached to the line or leader, whether fixed or sliding, shall not exceed four feet.
  • Any weight added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly, or lure shall not hang lower than the hook when the line or leader is held vertically.
Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County) from the State Rte. 3 bridge downstream 850 feet to the intersection of the channelized area and upstream 1.0 mile from the bridge to the Public Fishing Rights section. Fishing is prohibited from March 16- April 30
Buck Pond
Cranberry Pond
Irondequoit Bay
Long Pond
Round Pond
Sodus Bay
Exempt from seasonal fishing regulations. Lake Ontario Seasons and Limits apply
Niagara River Exempt from seasonal fishing regulations. Upper Niagara River or Lower Niagara River Regulations apply
Salmon River See below for Special Regulations for Salmon River and Tributaries
Special Regulations for Salmon River and Tributaries (Oswego County)
Salmon River and Tributaries Special Seasonal Regulations
Location Season Regulations
Salmon River Downstream of Route 52 Bridge in Altmar: From the upstream-most navigation buoy located between the breakwalls at the mouth of the river upstream to the County Rte. 52 bridge in Altmar April 15 - August 14 Statewide Gear Restrictions apply
August 15 - April 14
  • Fishing is prohibited at night from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise, except as permitted below.
  • Only one hook with a single hook point and a gap not exceeding ½ inch is permitted, except on floating lures as noted below.
  • Hooks attached to any lure, except an artificial fly, must be free swinging and unweighted. Artificial flies with no more than 1/8 oz. of added weight may be used. The method by which weight is added to a hook does not affect classification as an "artificial fly" provided the conditions of the definition of an artificial fly (see Definitions) are met.
  • The distance between the hook, artificial fly, or lure, and any weight attached to the line or leader, whether fixed or sliding, shall not exceed 4 feet.
  • Weight shall not be added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly, or lure in any manner that the weight hangs lower than the attached hook when the line is suspended vertically from the rod.
August 15 - October 31 Additional Regulations for Floating Lures Apply
  • A bead chain may be attached to the floating lure with a ring.
  • The bead chain may not exceed a distance of 3-1/2 inches between the body of the floating lure and the hook point.
  • 1 hook with a single hook point and a gap of no more than 5/8 inches may be attached to the bead chain or directly to the lure.
November 1 - April 14 Multiple single, double, and treble hooks are permitted on floating lures.
April 1 - August 14 Fishing at night is permitted from Lake Ontario to the Rte. 3 bridge.
Beaverdam Brook and Tributaries in Altmar Fishing is prohibited from their mouths to the upstream boundary of the Salmon River Hatchery property.
Salmon River Fly Fishing Catch and Release
Salmon River Fly Fishing Catch and Release Regulations
Location Season Hours Regulations
Lower Fly Section: From the County Rte. 52 Bridge in Altmar upstream 0.25 mile to the marked boundary at Beaverdam Brook September 15 - May 15 From 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • Fishing is prohibited outside the open season
  • All fish must be immediately released without unnecessary injury
  • Tackle is restricted to a traditional fly rod, fly reel, fly line, and artificial fly. Restrictions on fly lines, flies, attractors, leaders, and supplemental weight can be found below.
Upper Fly Section: From a marked boundary upstream of the New York State Fish Hatchery property to a marked boundary 0.6 miles upstream at the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir tailrace. April 1 - November 30
Tackle Restrictions:

Fly Lines
  • Use of less than 20 feet of a floating, sinking, or combination floating/ sinking fly line or shooting head immediately behind the leader and in front of any running line or other backing is prohibited.
  • From May 1 - August 31: Floating fly lines only.
  • From September 1 - April 30: Floating, sinking, and sink tip fly lines are permitted. Flies
  • From May 1 - August 31: a single unweighted artificial fly having one hook point with a 1/2 inch maximum gap only is permitted.
  • From September 1 - April 30: a single unweighted or weighted artificial fly with no more than 1/8 oz. added weight, having one hook point with a 1/2 inch maximum gap only, is permitted.
Attractors
  • The use of added baits or attractors such as, but not limited to, fish eggs, insects, beads, spoons, spinners, plugs, or similar devices on the line above the artificial fly is prohibited.
Leaders
  • The total length of the leader, including the tippet, shall not exceed 15 feet.
  • From May 1 - August 31: Sinking and metal leaders are prohibited.

Additional Weight

  • From May 1-August 31: The use of supplemental weight, such as split shot, sinkers, metal leaders, twist-ons, or swivels attached to the leader, tippet, fly line or fly, is prohibited.
  • From September 1-April 30: The use of supplemental weight is permitted with the following restrictions:
    • The combined weight of any supplemental weight and fly may not exceed 1/8 of an ounce.
    • The maximum distance between the artificial fly and any added weight to the line, leader, or tippet shall not exceed four feet.
    • Weight added to the line, leader, swivels, or artificial fly in any manner such that the weight hangs lower than the attached fly is prohibited.
Examples of Legal Seasonal Fishing Rigs

Examples of legal season fishing rigs