Albany – A proposed catch-and-release bass season outside the
traditional third-Saturday-in-June to Nov. 30 regular season will
remain intact despite concerns from sportsmen.
DEC officials said the initial plan to expand bass fishing
opportunities on most state waters has been filed with Department
of State and will essentially take effect next season.
“We got a fair amount of opposition and negative comments (to
the bass regulation proposal),” said DEC Fisheries Bureau Chief
Doug Stang, adding that ultimately, DEC followed the recommendation
of its biologists. “It’s a change, and a significant one. We’re
trying to maximize opportunity and at the same time protect the
resource for the long term. This should not pose a problem.”
DEC did modify the plan slightly to prohibit the
catch-and-release fishing of bass on Oneida Lake until the
first-Saturday-in-May opener of walleye season. “Basically, you
can’t fish for bass when walleye season is closed,” Stang said.
Other waters not part of the year-round bass fishing regulations
are those in DEC Regions 1 and 2, the tidal portions of the Hudson
River, and waters in Franklin, Jefferson and Hamilton counties.
Stang said that despite widespread discussion on the changes, a
late run of opposition prompted officials to again review the
“Organized sportsmen’s groups – many county federations – were
opposed. The New York Council of Trout Unlimited was opposed to the
expanded bass fishing opportunities. Most bass fishing clubs were
in favor of it, but not all of them. And most individual anglers
not represented by any group were highly in favor of the change,”
Concerns were voiced over the potential impact of fishing for
bass during the spawning and nest-guarding periods, even though
those fish would have to be immediately released. Artificial lures
only are allowed during the catch-and-release season.
Stang said water temperature is the biggest factor in
determining when spawning occurs, and that varies widely across New
York, which has popular bass fishing waters like Lake Erie, the
Hudson River, Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, as well as
the Finger Lakes and other waters.
“There are some years when the season opens during the
nest-guarding period and anglers have been fishing over spawning
bass at that time,” he said. “Many waters are open to bass fishing
during the nest-guarding period, simply as a product of when
spawning occurs. Our people are confident it’s not going to be
detrimental to the fishery.”
DEC officials are well aware, too, that bass were being targeted
in early spring by anglers on the water under the guise of fishing
for pike or panfish.
The regulations change preserves Lake Erie’s popular spring
trophy bass season, albeit with a 20-inch minimum size limit as
opposed to the current 15 inches. That season runs from the first
Saturday in May to the day before the traditional June opener.
Stang said the other change to the original regulations package
involves the Delaware River tributaries in Sullivan and Delaware
counties. An original plan to extend the trout fishing season
through Oct. 15 has been scaled back to Sept. 30 on those
tributaries, although the season will be extended on the Main
Branch of the Delaware, as well as the East and West branches.
“There was some concern over protecting spawning trout (that
move into the tributaries) and we addressed those,” Stang said.
“It’s rare that fish move into the tribs that early; usually it’s
the end of October or the first part of November.”
The regulations package is also highlighted by the establishment
of a two-fish lake trout limit with a slot on Lake Ontario, the St.
Lawrence River and Lower Niagara River, as well as a 21-inch size
limit for steelhead on those same waters.
Several New York trout waters will also see “5 and 12”
regulations – a five-fish limit with no more than two fish longer
than 12 inches – in an effort to preserve the quality of