Changes intended to streamline rules across the state
By Megan Plete Postol
New freshwater fishing regulations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will take effect April 1.
The changes come after review of public comments on draft proposals submitted earlier this year.
All of the new regulations reflect the input received from New York state anglers. DEC’s efforts to make fishing New York’s waters less complicated is a direct reflection of the perspectives provided from the public comment period, DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries Chief Steve Hursts said.
“We have tried to streamline our regulations,” Hursts said. “We are getting rid of unnecessary regulations. When regulations get too complicated, it is really tough for people to obey them. What we have been trying to do is make fishing easier, simpler, and more fun. The last thing we want to do is dissuade people from using all the great fisheries and resources our state has to offer.”
There are a number of notable changes that apply to waters across the state, including the Adirondacks:
- New statewide regulation for rainbow, brown trout, and splake in lakes and ponds. The season will now be open year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size, with a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule
- Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations will now allow for a year-round open season
- Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited with the exception of Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties, where previous rules remain
- New specific dates replaced floating dates for statewide season openers to include:
- May 1 – walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge
- June 1 – muskellunge. Note that for 2022 only, DEC will allow for the fishing of muskellunge beginning the last Saturday in May to accommodate previously planned fishing trips
- June 15 – largemouth and smallmouth bass.
- The statewide sunfish daily harvest limit has been reduced from 50 to 25 fish
- The statewide minimum size limit for crappie has been increased from 9 inches to 10 inches.
The complete listing of changes is available on the DEC website.
These changes are introduced with the goal of reducing the amount of special regulations while still providing the protections necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries, including changing some statewide regulations for certain species and eliminating special regulations that are no longer necessary.
The reduced daily limit of sunfish, a popular fish to catch in waters in every corner of the state, was adopted to protect populations from overharvest. The increased minimum size limit for crappie to 10 inches has the same goal, with the added intention to improve the stability and size structure of populations. Experimental regulations on 11 waters to have also been rolled out to determine if larger sunfish can be produced under a 15-fish-per-day harvest limit and an eight-inch minimum size limit.
Of note is that two of the DEC’s major proposed regulations changes did not make the cut. The first being the statewide expansion of lake trout and Atlantic salmon season to all year, with a daily limit of 3 fish, minimum 21 inches. The second being the statewide ponded brook trout regulation that would enforce a daily limit of 5 fish, any size, with no more than two fish longer than 12 inches from April 1 to Oct. 15. Neither of these proposals were adopted.
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Changes to the freshwater fishing regulations guide
In addition to the law changes, the DEC has reformatted its freshwater fishing regulations guide this year. These changes are meant to reflect the DEC’s intention to make fishing simpler, easier to understand, and more accessible to anglers across the state.
Last year the guide was absent of advertisements and articles. This change was meant to make the guide easier to read. It was also printed in a larger size. These two adjustments continue this year, along with more improvements to facilitate finding regulations.
The new guide can be downloaded via the DEC website. Hard copies of the guide are currently being produced and guides are anticipated to be available at license-issuing agents by the second week of April. Hard copies can also be requested by emailing FWFish@dec.ny.gov.
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