Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Rules For Adirondack Fishing Going Into Effect

Fly Fishing on the Ausable River - photo by John WarrenNew fishing regulations go into effect on April 1, the start of the trout season statewide.

Numerous changes will impact Adirondack waters and anglers.

The new regulations include the elimination of special brook trout regulations at Whey Pond in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. The pond neighbors the Rollins Pond and Fish Creek camping areas. Previous regulations had required anglers to release brook trout under 12 inches and to only allow them to keep three during an outing. Anglers were also required to use artificial lures.

The restrictive regulations were in place to protect brood stock for the Windfall strain of heritage brook trout. Whey Pond had been reclaimed in 1989 for the purpose of eliminating invasive fish, but two invasive fish species living in the pond have hurt the brook trout population there.

“They just couldn’t handle the competition there from the abundant golden shiners and bullhead,” DEC Region 5 fisheries supervisor Lance Durfey said. “We’ve got some catch records through the years that shows a pretty precipitous drop in brook trout catch (rates).”

Brood stock for the Windfall strain of brook trout are now raised in Mountain Pond in Brighton.

On Lake George, anglers will once again be able to fish for rainbow smelt from May 16 to March 31, which protects the fish during their spawning season in the spring when they go up the tributaries in great numbers. Anglers should take note that dip-netting is still prohibited and the daily limit is 25. Smelt fishing has been heavily regulated in recent years, in part because it is a key forage food for salmon and lake trout. Smelt population numbers traditionally rise and fall in cycles.

“I think there’s always been a concern … that we wanted to preserve the smelt population as the primary forage fish there,” Durfey said. “We’re still doing that. That’s the idea behind no dipping allowed. Because if you’re ever going really impact the smelt population, it’s going to be during that spawning season where you’ve got lots of fish coming up the tribs and they are concentrated in an area where it’s pretty easy to exploit them.”

Here are some other fishing regulation changes that impact the Adirondacks.

  • An 18 inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of 3 has been established for walleye in Sacandaga Lake and tributaries and outlet and Lake Pleasant and tributaries in Hamilton County; Kiwassa Lake, St. Regis Falls Impoundment, and Little Wolf Pond in Franklin County; and Putnam Pond in Essex County.
  • The 18-inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of 3 walleye has been eliminated at Franklin Falls Flow in Essex County.
  • Three short sections of Fish Creek, Indian River and Grasse River in St. Lawrence County have been closed to all fishing from March 16th until the opening of walleye season.
  • Crane Pond in Essex County has been reopened to ice fishing.
  • The restriction on the number of devices allowed for ice fishing on Bigsby and Copperas ponds in Essex County, Upper Saranac Lake in Franklin County, and Fawn Lake in Hamilton County has been continued.
  • The special trout regulation on Whey Pond in Franklin County has been eliminated.
  • The special regulation for landlocked salmon on Piseco Lake in Hamilton County has been eliminated.
  • The minimum size length for lake trout in Woodhull Lake in Herkimer County has been decreased from 21 to 18 inches.
  • The prohibition on the use or possession of smelt in Lake George has been removed and smelt may now be caught by angling.
  • The special regulation for black bass in the Hamilton County portion of the Hudson River has been eliminated.

For a summary of the regulations changes, visit DEC’s website.

Photo by John Warren: Man flyfishing on the West Branch of the Ausable River.

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at

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