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For Release: Friday, January 15, 2021

DEC Announces Release of Draft Sunfish and Crappie Management Plan

Proposed Plan Reflects Current Angler Views and Science to Provide Sustainable and Unique Fishing Opportunities for Popular Panfish

Public Comments Accepted through Feb. 15, 2021

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of a draft Sunfish and Crappie Management Plan for public review and comment. The draft plan proposes more conservative statewide fishing regulations and establishes the "Big Panfish Initiative" that aims to provide unique opportunities by managing for larger-sized crappie and sunfish in certain waters. The draft plan is available on DEC's website and public comments will be accepted through Feb. 15, 2021.

"Sunfish and crappie are some of New York's most popular panfish species and with this plan, DEC is balancing conservation and fishing opportunities for more sustainable fisheries in waters across the state," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC encourages New York's anglers to share their input on this draft management plan and the Big Panfish Initiative to help develop destination fisheries for sunfish and crappie and complement our ongoing efforts to expand and diversify New York State's freshwater angling opportunities."

In the draft plan, fishery managers propose management objectives after considering both the current science on sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, and redbreast) and crappie management and the opinions of New York anglers. Results from an online angler survey (PDF) indicate support for more conservative sunfish fishing regulations. Recent research on the impacts of sunfish and crappie harvest regulations indicates that lowering daily harvest limits or increasing minimum size limits can result in improvements to population size structure, which is likely to improve fishing quality and sustainability for these species.

Elements of the draft plan include:

  • Reducing the sunfish statewide daily harvest limit from 50 to 25 fish;
  • Increasing the crappie statewide minimum size limit from nine to 10 inches;
  • Establishing the Big Panfish Initiative, which includes:
    • Implementing an eight-inch minimum size limit and a daily harvest limit of 15 for sunfish 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); and
      • Silver Lake (Region 9)
    • Implementing a 12-inch minimum size limit and a daily harvest limit of 10 for crappie in the following waters:
      • 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); and
      • Bear Lake (Region 9)
  • Evaluating the impacts of these fishing regulation changes to sunfish and crappie population structure and through periodic checks of angler satisfaction.

Comments on the draft plan should be submitted via e-mail to or via mail to Jeff Loukmas, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753; include the subject line "Sunfish and Crappie Management Plan." Comments will be accepted through Feb. 15, 2021.

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