New freshwater fishing regulations went into effect April 1, 2015. According to an announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the changes are a result of a two-year process which included biological assessment, discussions with anglers and a formal 45-day public comment. These regulations will be published in the 2015-16 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide. Highlights of the changes relevant to angling in the Adirondacks include:
New or Modified Regulations Pertaining to Sportfish Species:
- Establishing a closed statewide season for sauger.
- Modifying the statewide regulation for muskellunge by increasing the minimum size limit to 40 inches and adjusting the season opener from the third Saturday in June to the last Saturday in May.
- Providing 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.
- Initiating a catch and release season for trout for sections of the Salmon River (Franklin County).
- Establishing a special trout regulation of a daily creel limit of five fish with no more than two fish longer than 12 inches, for some waters in Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties, as well as for Little River and Oswegatchie River (St. Lawrence County), and Oriskany Creek (Oneida County).
- Establishing an all-year trout season, with a 12-inch minimum size limit and daily limit of three fish, at Hinkley 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.
- Establishing an all-year season, with a 12-inch minimum size limit and daily limit of three fish, for both trout and Landlocked salmon at Millsite Lake in the Jefferson County town of Theresa.
- Expanding the current special trout regulation for Pine, Boottree, Town Line, Deer and Horseshoe ponds (St. Lawrence County) to the entire set of waters that are a part of the Massawepie Easement in the Town of Piercefield.
- Expanding the current trout and salmon special regulations for the Fulton Chain of lakes to the connected water body Old Forge Pond.
- Modifying 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. Add landlocked salmon to species with an open year-round season for Star Lake.
- Clarifying, in regulation, a definition for “catch and release fishing” and defining how incidental catches of untargeted fish are to be handled.
Elimination of special regulations that are no longer warranted. Statewide fishing regulations now apply:
- Deleting 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.
- Eliminating 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), North Branch Saranac River (Clinton and Franklin Counties), Clear and Wheeler Ponds (Herkimer County), Cold Brook (St. Lawrence County), and West Branch of the St. Regis River (St. Lawrence County).
- Eliminating the 10-inch minimum size limit for black bass at Lily Pond and Pack Forest Lake in Warren County.
- Eliminating the daily creel limit special regulation for sunfish and yellow perch in Cumberland Bay (Lake Champlain), as well as eliminate the prohibition on the sale of yellow perch taken from Cumberland Bay.
- Eliminating the minimum size limit special regulation for lake trout in the Essex Chain of Lakes.
Regulations Pertaining to Baitfish and Other Non-Game Fish:
- Prohibiting 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.
- Removing all 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.
- Adding madtoms and stonecats to the approved list of fish that may be used, collected and sold as baitfish.
- Eliminating “snatching” of burbot in Scomotion Creek (Clinton County).
- Eliminating smelt “dipping” in Raquette Lake (Hamilton County).
Regulations Pertaining to Gear and Angling Methods:
- Streamlining what devices may be used for ice fishing by modifying the statewide regulation to allow for a total of seven devices that may be used to fish through the ice; as well as allow for a total of 15 devices that many be used to fish through the ice at Lake Champlain.
- Eliminating the gear restrictions at Follensby Clear Pond (Franklin County) that permits ice fishing but prohibits the use of tip-ups.
- With the exception of the Salmon River, permitting the use of floating lures with multiple hooks with multiple hook points, on all Lake Ontario tributaries.
- Clarifying 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.
- Expanding 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.
- Clarifying 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.
- Replacing Lake Ontario tributary regulations for St. Lawrence River tributaries in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties with statewide terminal tackle restrictions.
- Redefining the upstream limit for spearfishing on the Salmon River (Franklin County).
In addition to the above, several changes were made in areas outside the Adirondacks and to properly establish or clarify an earlier regulation change, better define an existing regulation (by rewording), or address regulations that have not changed but are now redundant and covered elsewhere in the regulations including as a result of consolidation.
The complete list of sportfishing regulation changes can be viewed under “Recently Adopted (Previous Twelve Months)” on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov.
All comments received were categorized and reviewed for substance, and staff responses were compiled. A summary of the “Assessment of Public Comment” is available on the Department of State website at www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register.htm.