DEC proposes regulation changes to freshwater fishing

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This May 6, 2020, photo, shows a wild brown trout taken on a dry fly from a Catskills river outside Roscoe, N.Y. Fishing shops in Roscoe that should be overflowing with anglers are empty, due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Rob Jagodzinski)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — Changes have been proposed for freshwater fishing regulations in New York. On December 8, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that it has proposed changes to clarify and simplify sportfishing regulations in fresh waterbodies.

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, these changes are based on public feedback and DEC fisheries manager review of rules associated with the management of NYS fisheries. “These proposed changes will help to align freshwater fishing regulations with the State’s current management objectives in a way that is easy for New Yorkers to understand and reflects their input,” Commissioner Seggos said in a press release. “This proposal was driven by public comments and expert feedback, and represents DEC’s continued commitment to making fishing more enjoyable and accessible by eliminating unnecessary and outdated rules.”

Proposed changes include new rules for trout management in ponded waters. The DEC stated that it would consolidate 143 waterbody and 33 county-wide special regulations into a new statewide regulation. This would permit anglers to harvest five fish per day, with only two being greater than 12 inches in length.

The DEC is also proposing the removal of the statewide closed season restriction on lake trout and Atlantic salmon. This would consolidate 24 lake trout and 33 Atlantic salmon waterbody-specific regulations into statewide regulations.

Additionally, the changes would allow ice fishing unless specifically prohibited in New York where existing “ice fishing is prohibited unless specifically permitted in waters inhabited by trout” regulation will still apply. Exceptions for this regulation would be in Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties.

The DEC would also provide consistency in opening and closing fishing season dates for sportfishing. Notable changes to opening dates would include May 1 for walleye, northern pike, pickerel, and tiger muskellunge, June 1 for muskellunge, and June 15 for black bass.

Water body-specific changes would include the elimination of the current three-fish-per-day daily walleye limit in Oneida Lake, changing the daily limit for steelhead on the Lower Niagara River to two fish per day and establishing a no-limit, all-year season,12-inch-minimum length restriction for walleye on Skaneateles Lake. Snatching and spearing would also be banned in select waters.

Input on these proposed changes will be accepted by the DEC through February 6.

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