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Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River and Tributaries Angling Regulations

Special Fishing Regulations for Lake Ontario. St. Lawrence River and Tributaries*
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 Rt. 286 bridges, Lindsey Creek and Skinner Creek (Oswego and Jefferson counties), and the Black River from Dexter Dam to Mill Street Dam (Jefferson County)
Lake Trout December 1 through September 30 None (except no more than 1 shall be between 25" and 30") 2
Atlantic Salmon All year 25" 1
Northern Pike (Lake Ontario) First Saturday in May through March 15 22" 5
Northern Pike (St. Lawrence River and tributaries downstream of Tibbets Point) First Saturday in May through March 15 22" 3
Black Bass (Lake Ontario and tributaries except in Jefferson County) Statewide Angling Regulations Apply
Black Bass (Lake Ontario and tributaries in Jefferson
County & St. Lawrence River and tributaries)
Third Saturday in June through Nov 30 12" 5, Fishing for black bass (including catch and release) is prohibited outside of the open
Walleye First Saturday in May through March 15 18" 3
Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge Third Saturday in June through December 15 54" 1
Lake Sturgeon, American Eel Closed Possession prohibited
Yellow Perch, Sunfish All year Any size 50 of each, except Yellow Perch and Sunfish may be taken in any number in Jefferson County

* These regulations do not apply to St. Lawrence River tributaries in Clinton and Franklin counties. See Statewide Angling Regulations and Clinton and Franklin county special regulations for these tributaries.
** See St. Lawrence County Special Fishing Regulations for seasonal closures on the Oswegatchie and Grasse rivers.

Review Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations for regulations that apply to all Great Lakes waters.

Special Regulations for Lake Ontario Tributaries Except the Lower Niagara River and Salmon River

Note: See Lower Niagara River or Salmon River regulations for special regulations that apply to those waters.

Lake Ontario Waters and Tributaries Exempted from Seasonal Tributary Regulations

The following regulations apply to the waters listed in the table below:

Lake Ontario Tributaries Exempted From Seasonal Tributary Regulations
Water County Applicable Regulations
Niagara River Erie & Niagara Upper Niagara River or Lower Niagara River regulations apply
Round Pond, Buck Pond, Long Pond, Cranberry Pond, and Irondequoit Bay Monroe Lake Ontario Regulations Apply
Sodus Bay Wayne Lake Ontario Regulations Apply
South Sandy Pond Oswego Lake Ontario Regulations Apply

Sections of Lake Ontario Tributaries Subject to Seasonal (Sept. 1 to Mar. 31) Regulations

The following tributary sections are subject to seasonal fishing regulations described below during the period September 1 to March 31:
Lake Ontario Tributaries with Seasonal Regulations
Water County Portion of Tributary Subject to Seasonal Regulations
Eighteenmile Creek Niagara From the Route 18 bridge upstream to Burt Dam
Oak Orchard Creek Orleans From the power lines that are 1.9 miles upstream (south) of Route 18 bridge upstream to Waterport Dam
Genesee River Monroe From the State Route 104 Bridge upstream to the Lower Falls
Sterling Creek Cayuga From Old State Road to impassable barrier upstream of Route 104A
Sterling Valley Creek Cayuga From McIntyre Road to impassable barrier upstream of Route 104A
Oswego River Oswego From the Utica Street bridge upstream to the Varick Dam
Catfish Creek Oswego From the mouth upstream to dam at County Route 1
Black River Jefferson From the upstream tip of the lowermost island to Mill Street dam in Watertown
All other tributaries All From the bridge closest to the mouth upstream to first barrier impassable by fish

Lake Ontario Tributaries with Seasonal Closures

Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County): Fishing is prohibited from March 16 through the first Saturday in May from the State Route 3 bridge downstream 850 feet to the intersection of the channelized area and upstream 1.0 miles from the bridge to the Public Fishing Rights section.

Lake Ontario tributary seasonal fishing regulations

Fishing Hours

Fishing from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise is prohibited except in the Black River (Jefferson County) from Lake Ontario upstream to the Route 180 bridge in Dexter, where fishing is permitted at all times.

Hook, Leader and Weight Regulations


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 freeswinging, except on an artificial fly.
  • An artificial fly may not have more than two hook points. Tandem artificial flies are not permitted.
  • The gap between a hook's shaft and point cannot exceed one-half inch.
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except artificial flies and jigs weighing no more than one-eighth ounce.

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 one and one-half 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.