Oneida eyed for C&R bass season

Fishing regs proposals open for public comment period

Albany — Proposed changes to DEC’s fishing regulations won’t likely generate as much sportsmen reaction as the department’s deer management decisions.

But if you’re an Oneida Lake, Salmon River or Finger Lakes angler, you’ll probably have an opinion on some of the proposals.

Changes in regulations on those waters highlighted the laundry list of proposed changes, which would take effect Oct. 1.

It’s a process DEC undertakes every two years, and this time around the major alterations involve:

• Oneida Lake, where a proposal would establish a catch-and-release, artificials-only bass season outside the traditional bass season.

• a reduction in the rainbow trout limit from five to one in the western Finger Lakes (Keuka, Seneca, Canandaigua, Canadice and Hemlock) and a reduction in the tributary rainbow creel limit from three to one.

• alterations to Salmon River fishing regulations, notably in the popular fly-fishing-only stretches but also throughout the entire river in some cases.

DEC officials expect public comment to pour in on some of the proposals through the April 2 deadline for offering thoughts.

“We’re starting to receive comments now,” DEC fisheries bureau chief Phil Hulbert said last month. “But the regulations were being contemplated and discussed at the regional level. We worked with local sportsmen’s groups to get the word out, so most of these won’t come as any surprise.”

Still, the Oneida Lake shift to statewide bass fishing regulations – which include year-round fishing through the catch-and-release, artificial lures-only offering from Dec. 1 to the day before the traditional season opener – has been met with mixed reviews among anglers.

“It’s an issue people are aware of and have definite opinions on it,” Hulbert said.

DEC officials say opening Oneida Lake to year-round bass fishing wouldn’t have a major impact on the smallmouth and largemouth fishery, however.

The state implemented year-round bass fishing several years ago, but some waters, including Oneida Lake, were left off the catch-and-release season offering over fears that pre-season fishing pressure could impact spawning success of bass.

The Finger Lakes rainbow trout regulations proposal, Hulbert says, have been generally supported by anglers.

“There seems to be plenty of support out there for the concept of protecting wild rainbow trout,” he said.

Changes in Salmon River fishing regulations in recent years have been implemented to alleviate “chuck and duck” fishing by anglers using heavily weighted flies and lures. Under this year’s proposal, further steps would be taken in the fly-fishing-only sections of the river, where only floating fly line and unweighted leaders and flies would be allowed from May 1-15 in the Lower Fly Area and May 1-Aug. 31 in the Upper Fly Area.

That change, DEC officials said, would offer further protection to salmonids that would otherwise be vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Another proposal for the entire Salmon River would allow a bead chain to be attached to floating lures, and limits the distance between a floating lure and hook point to a maximum of 3.5 inches when a bead chain setup is used. DEC officials said that rig was “determined to be an effective angling method and was not considered an attractive snagging device.”

DEC officials for years have tweaked Salmon River regulations in an effort to curb both the intentional and accident snagging of fish since that practice was outlawed years ago.

“The Salmon River is a unique angling experience,” Hulbert said. “And we want to make sure fishing takes place in an appropriate manner.”

Categories: Bass, News

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