NY: DEC unveils fishing regs proposals

Brown trout limit would be cut for Lake Ontario
tribs

Albany – Proposed changes to New York fishing regulations for
2012-14 would cut the brown trout limit from three fish down to one
on Lake Ontario tributaries and increase the daily limit for Lake
Erie walleye from five to six.

DEC announced the laundry list of proposed regulations changes late
last month. Public comment on the proposals can be made through
June 24.

For now, DEC officials are labeling the list “possible” changes to
fishing regulations. If they go through the regulatory process,
they would take effect Oct. 1, 2012.

Boosting the daily Lake Erie walleye limit from five to six fish
would be a move made to standardize the walleye limit with other
states bordering Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario,
where the limit is now six walleye.

DEC officials said assessments of walleye numbers in the lake “show
that during normal periods of walleye abundance sport harvest is
consistent with safe rates of fish mortality, and daily limits can
be expanded to six fish to increase fishing opportunity and provide
more uniformity with sportfishing regulations in Ontario,
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.”

The proposed reduction on the brown trout limit from three fish to
one in Lake Ontario tributaries comes in response to angler
requests, DEC officials said.

“Numerous Lake Ontario tributary anglers and organized angling
groups have repeatedly requested this change, citing personal
observations of ‘overharvest’ of brown trout,” DEC said in the
proposal. “A reduction in the brown trout creel limit would reduce
harvest and subsequently increase angler catch rates and
satisfaction.”

DEC is also considering a reduction in the rainbow trout limit in
the western Finger Lakes – Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Canadice and
Hemlock lakes – from the current three down to one.

Officials said adult rainbow populations appear to be on the
decline in those waters. “Current catch rates are very low, while
the percentage of harvest is 50 percent in both the lake and
tributaries. A reduction in the creel limit would stress the
importance of these fish and could aid in increasing the population
of adult rainbow trout,” the proposal read.

Conversely, DEC is looking at eliminating the restriction of “no
more than three lake trout” as part of the five-trout daily limit
in the western Finger Lakes. Officials said laker numbers are on
the rise and eliminating the “no more than three” regulation could
allow for better growth rates and take some pressure off the lakes’
forage base.

Among the other proposed regulations changes is:

• lowering the daily creel limit for St. Lawrence River (and
tributaries) walleye from three to one fish from Jan. 1-March 15 to
protect spawning walleye. The limit will remain at three fish daily
from opening day through Dec. 31.

“Walleye spawning runs have been increasing in size in late
February and early March and this has led to exploitation of this
spawning stock through the ice in numerous bays of Lake
Ontario,” DEC said in announcing the proposal, which will limit ice
fishing harvest and create consistency with the current walleye
regulations for the Lower Niagara River.

• clarifying and more clearly defying the prohibition on snagging
and regulations governing the use of a bare hook. The change would
essentially make the use of a bare hook – generally regarded as a
tool in snagging – illegal unless the hook point is 3.5 inches or
less from a lure or bait.

• changing the minimum length for salmonids on the Upper Niagara
River to “any size.” DEC officials said that move would eliminate
the need for exceptions – lower minimum lengths than the current 12
inches – for inland trout stockings that occur downstream. A
“minimal harvest” of steelhead smolts is expected, officials
said.

• allowing the use of a bead chain attached to a floating lure with
a ring on the Salmon River. The distance between the floating lure
and hook point may not exceed 3.5 inches when a bead chain
configuration is used. DEC undertook a multi-year evaluation
program in which participants were allowed to use such a setup
(current regulations specify that floating lures – other than
artificial flies – should have a hook within 1.5 inches). “Overall,
there is a high level of satisfaction with the configuration and a
high level of agreement…that this will not result in an
attractive snagging device,” DEC officials said.

• establishing a “no weight” restriction - only floating line and
unweighted leaders and flies allowed – on the Salmon River’s Lower
Fly Area from May 1-15 and the Upper Fly Area from May 1-Aug. 31.
That regulation is designed to avoid foul hooking of Atlantic
salmon and steelhead as they aggressively chase flies, and also to
avoid disturbing the fish during periods when the water temperature
is high.

• include tributaries in the current fishing closure on Beaverdam
Brook from their mouths upstream to the boundary of the Salmon
River Fish Hatchery property. Environmental conservation officers
often deal with trespass and fishing violations in that area,
officials said.

• prohibiting fishing in a section of Little Sandy Creek from March
16 until the walleye season opener to protect spawning walleye and
combat poaching incidents.

A list of county-specific regulations will be published in the June
17 issue of New York Outdoor News.

The regulations can also be viewed on DEC’s website at:
www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/73762.html. There are individual links to
offer comments via e-mail.

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