Albany — A lengthy list of proposed fishing regulations changes, unveiled in July of last year, has finally made it to the final steps of the regulatory process.
DEC officials announced earlier this month the proposed changes have entered the public comment period, which will run through Dec. 1.
The new regulations will, pending regulatory approval, take effect April 1 of next year and will be published in a new fishing regulations guide.
Until then, regulations in the 2013-14 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide remain in effect.
A news release issued by the DEC indicated the proposed changes were made available to the public in July 2013 “to receive input early in the process.” But DEC typically overhauls its fishing regulations every other year, which means those changes would have taken effect in October of last year.
The regulatory process stalled last year, however, presumably due to staff shortages within the department.
As a result, the proposals have circulated among the state’s anglers for well over a year.
“I don’t think there will be any public outcry this time around,” said Shaun Keeler, inland fisheries section head for the DEC. “There really wasn’t when they were floated out there last year.”
Among the proposals:
• increasing the minimum size limit for muskies to 54 inches on the St. Lawrence and Niagara rivers and Lake Ontario.
• boosting the minimum size limit for walleye from 15 to 18 inches on Honeoye Lake.
• increasing the minimum size for muskies to 40 inches under general statewide regulations and lengthening the season by three weeks, with a last-Saturday-in-May opening date.
•clarifying ice fishing regulations by setting a seven-line limit for anglers under general statewide regulations, regardless of whether those lines are on tip-ups, tip-downs, jigging rods or other devices.
The proposals also expands fishing opportunities on several waters and in some cases simplify regulations for more clarity for anglers.
“DEC assessed the status of existing freshwater sport fish populations and the desires of anglers in developing the proposed regulations,” a DEC news release read. “In addition, many of the proposed changes are the result of DEC’s efforts to consolidate regulations where possible and eliminate special regulations that are no longer warranted or have become outdated.”