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Friday, February 24, 2012

New York DEC proposes changes to fishing regulations

Changes to the current freshwater fishing regulations designed to enhance fishing opportunities and protect the state's freshwater fisheries were recently announced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC will accept public comments on the proposals through April 2.

The proposed regulation changes are the result of careful assessment of the status of existing fish populations and the desires of anglers for enhanced fishing opportunities. Several of the changes being considered remove special regulations that are no longer warranted.
Probably the proposed change of most interest to local anglers would be the elimination of the closed season without catch and release for bass on Oneida Lake. Others will be of interest to Salmon River anglers or ice fishermen. Below are highlights of some of the proposed changes. The complete list is available on the DEC web site.
Walleye: Prohibits fishing in the following stream sections from March 16 until the first Saturday in May (opening day for walleye) to protect spawning walleye: Lake Pleasant outlet to the mouth of the Kunjamuk River (Hamilton County); and Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County) from the Koster Drive downstream of the State Route 3 bridge to the lower boundary of the public fishing rights section located upstream of the State Route 3 bridge. Change the walleye daily limit for Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River to six per day to harmonize limits with bordering jurisdictions.
Bass and Oneida Lake: Eliminates the special black bass closed season for Oneida Lake and implement statewide regulations to create additional fishing opportunities and expand statewide consistency, as continuance of this special closed season is not warranted. Oneida Lake would be subject to the same catch and release season and rules that apply to most of the state.
Trout and salmon: Opens Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Gilman Lake, South Pond and Utowana Lake (Hamilton County) to ice fishing for landlocked salmon and reduce the daily limit for lake trout in these waters from three per day to two per day. This will create a suite of nine lakes in Hamilton County that will have the same ice fishing regulations for lake trout and landlocked salmon.
Implement a 12-inch minimum size for brown trout in Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the opportunity to return more brown trout to the creel.
Reduce the limit of rainbow trout from five to one in the western Finger Lakes and three to one in the tributaries to provide further protection for this species. Western Finger Lakes include Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Canadice and Hemlock Lakes.
Removes the restriction of no more than three lake trout as part of the five trout limit in the western Finger Lakes to foster harvest opportunities and reduce competition with other trout species and impacts on forage base. Change the minimum size limit for rainbow trout in Skaneateles Lake and Owasco Lake from nine inches to 15 inches. This would create consistency with the other Finger Lakes.
Add the tributaries of Beaverdam Brook (Oswego County) from their mouths to the upstream boundary of the Salmon River Hatchery property to the current Beaverdam Brook fishing closure (which also currently prohibits fishing within 100 yards of any DEC fish collection device).

Muskellunge and tiger muskellunge: Implements a 40-inch size limit for muskellunge and tiger muskellunge in the Chenango, Tioughnioga, Tioga and Susquehanna rivers and a 36-inch size limit at Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the trophy potential of these species in these waters.
Ice fishing and baitfish: Opens specific waters to ice fishing currently deemed as trout waters in the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence Counties as ice fishing can be allowed for at these locations.
Gear and angling methods: Clearly specifies that attempting to take fish by snagging is prohibited.
For the Salmon River (Oswego County), allows a bead chain to be attached to floating lures. The distance between a floating lure and hook point may not exceed three-and-a-half inches when a bead chain configuration is used. This was determined to be an effective angling method and was not considered an attractive snagging device.
For the Salmon River (Oswego County) implement a “no weight” restriction (i.e., only floating line and unweighted leaders and flies allowed) from May 1–15 for the Lower Fly Area and from May 1 to August 31 for the Upper Fly Area.
The full draft regulations and instructions for submitting comments can be seen on the DEC website at
Comments on the proposals can be sent via e-mail to or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State DEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text can be requested from Shaun Keeler at the same addresses listed above. Final regulations, following full review of public comments, will take effect Oct. 1, 2012.
YOUTH TURKEY HUNT: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmens Clubs and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officers are teaming up for Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend on April 21–22. The program gives youngsters who are eligible and do not have a family member or adult mentor to hunt with an opportunity to hunt with an ECO.
Since many youngsters want to hunt turkey but do not have the opportunity to learn from a family member or other adult relative, the Oneida County Federation and ECOs are providing this. On April 14, the weekend prior to the hunt, the youth will learn the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship under the supervision of certified instructors.

Eligible youngsters must be 12–15, hold a junior hunting license and a have turkey permit. Youth ages 12–13 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or relative over 21.
During the special Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend youngsters will be accompanied by an ECO and have a chance to take a turkey before the regular season opens May 1. The limit is one bird and they are allowed to take a second one during the regular season in May. Hunting hours are one half hour before sunrise until noon.
For more information or applications contact Scott Faulkner, Youth Turkey Hunt, 3729 Wells Gifford Road, Vernon Center, NY 13477 or call 829-3588.
STEELHEAD REPORT: Despite warmer weather and spring-like conditions, there has been light fishing pressure on the Salmon River. But those anglers who have pursued the silver torpedos have been rewarded with exciting action. Most of the fish are in the upper river from Pineville to the Lower Fly Zone at Altmar. Fish are being taken on all the usual baits and lures.
SEASONS END: Small game seasons in this area and most of the state end February 29. Squirrel, grouse, rabbit and varying hare seasons will be closed. Cottontail rabbit and varying hare (“snowshoe rabbit”) will remain open in northern zone (regions 5 and 6) until March 20.
OSWEGO GUIDE: The new Oswego County hunting and fishing guide is available on line and packed with useful information. For a copy, visit


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