The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting comments on proposed changes to the freshwater fishing regulations through December 1, 2014. DEC modifies the sportfishing regulations approximately every two years.
The new sportfishing regulations are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2015. The regulations in the 2013-14 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide will remain in effect until the new regulations are enacted. Once enacted, a new regulations guide will be available.
Proposed changes that will affect the Adirodnack region include:
- Modify the statewide regulation for muskellunge by increasing the minimum size limit to 40 inches and lengthen the season by three weeks to start on the last Saturday in May;
- Provide consistency between the proposed statewide muskellunge regulation changes and the existing muskellunge regulations for specific waters including Lake Champlain, and St. Lawrence County rivers and streams, as well as for both muskellunge and tiger muskellunge at Chautauqua Lake;
- Increase the minimum size limit for muskellunge to 54 inches in the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River;
- Initiate a catch and release season for trout for sections of the Salmon River (Franklin County);
- Establish a special trout regulation of a daily creel limit of five fish with no more than two fish longer than 12 inches, in Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties, Little River and Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County, Millsite Lake in Jefferson County, and Oriskany Creek (Oneida County);
- Establish an all-year trout season, with a 12-inch minimum size limit and daily limit of three fish, at Hinckley and Prospect Reservoirs in Herkimer and Oneida counties, North Lake in Herkimer County, and for an additional section of the North Branch Saranac River in Franklin and Clinton counties;
- Apply the current trout and salmon special regulations for the Fulton Chain of lakes to the connected water body Old Forge Pond;
- Modify trout and/or salmon regulations for Star Lake and Trout Lake (St. Lawrence County), by increasing the minimum size limit for trout to 12 inches and reducing the daily creel limit to three. Allow fishing all year for landlocked salmon in Star Lake, with ice fishing permitted;
- Establish an open year-round trout season for Sylvia Lake (St. Lawrence County), with a 12-inch minimum size limit and three fish daily creel limit, with ice fishing permitted;
- Clarify in regulation a definition for “catch and release fishing” as well as define the limitations of handling the incidental catch of untargeted species.
- Delete the special minimum size and daily creel limit walleye regulation for Fern Lake (Clinton County), Lake Algonquin (Hamilton County), and Franklin Falls Flow, Lower Saranac Lake and Rainbow Lake in Franklin County;
- Eliminate the special regulations (examples being minimum size limit, daily creel limit, season length and/or method of take) for trout, landlocked salmon and/or lake trout, at several waters including Lake Algonquin (Hamilton County), Jennings Park Pond (Hamilton County), Hudson River (Saratoga County), Clear and Wheeler Ponds (Herkimer County), Cold Brook (St. Lawrence County), and West Branch of the St. Regis River (St. Lawrence County);
- Eliminate the 10-inch minimum size limit for black bass at Lily Pond and Pack Forest Lake in Warren County;
- Eliminate the daily creel limit special regulation for sunfish and yellow perch in Cumberland Bay (Lake Champlain);
- Eliminate the minimum size limit special regulation for lake trout in the Essex Chain of Lakes;
- Delete the special regulation for Follensby Clear Pond (Franklin County) that permits ice fishing but prohibits the use of tip-ups;
- Prohibit the use of fish as bait in newly acquired trout waters: Fish Hole Pond and Balsam Pond in Franklin County; and Clear Pond in Washington County;
- Remove all the currently listed eligible waters for the commercial collection of baitfish: in Clinton County except Lake Champlain; in Essex County except Lake Champlain and Lake Flower; in Franklin County except Lake Flower, Lower Saranac Lake, Raquette River, Tupper Lake and Upper Saranac Lake; in Fulton County; in Hamilton County except Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and Long Lake; in Saratoga County except the Hudson River, Lake Lonely and outlet Lake Lonely to Kayaderosseras Creek, Mohawk River and Saratoga Lake; in Warren County except the Hudson River; and in Washington County except the Hudson River and Lake Champlain;
- Add madtoms and stonecats to the approved list of fish that may be used, collected and sold as baitfish;
- Eliminate “snatching” of burbot in Scomotion Creek (Clinton County);
- Eliminate smelt “dipping” in Raquette Lake;
- Streamline what devices may be used for ice fishing by modifying the statewide regulation to allow for a total of seven ice fishing devices/lines; modify the language pertaining to devices for ice fishing to allow for a total of 15 ice fishing devices/lines for Lake Champlain;
- Eliminate the gear restrictions at Follensby Clear Pond (Franklin County) that permit ice fishing but prohibit the use of tip-ups;
- With the exception of the Salmon River, permit the use of floating lures with multiple hooks with multiple hook points, on all Lake Ontario tributaries;
- Clarify the definition of floating lures on Lake Ontario tributaries to: “A floating lure is a lure that floats while at rest in water with or without any weight attached to the line, leader, or lure”;
- Clarify that the current regulation for the Great Lake tributaries restricting the use of hooks with added weight was not intended to ban the use of small jigs;
- Expand the prohibition of weight added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lures to all Lake Ontario tributaries (i.e. beyond a limited group of tributaries) from September 1 through March 31 of the following year;
- Clarify that the use of multiple hooks with multiple hook points on Lake Erie tributaries is legal, as well as clarify that the use of flies with up to two hook points is legal on all Great Lake tributaries;
- Replace Lake Ontario tributary regulations for St. Lawrence River tributaries in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties with statewide terminal tackle restrictions; and
- Redefine the upstream limit for spearfishing on the Salmon River (Franklin County).
In addition to the above, several non-substantive regulation modifications are included to establish or clarify an earlier regulation changes, better define an existing regulations (by rewording etc.), and/or address regulations that have not changed but are now redundant and covered elsewhere in the regulations including as a result of consolidation.
The full text of the proposed regulations is available on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.
Comments on the proposals can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.