Lake Erie trophy bass regs proposal moving forward

Public comment period ends Oct. 7

Albany — A public comment period on numerous changes to New York state fishing regulations is nearing its Oct. 7 deadline.

And it appears the laundry list of proposals – including an extension of Lake Erie’s trophy bass season to a Dec. 1 start – is going to be finalized following the regulatory process.

The regulations would officially take effect April 1, 2017.

The changes are part of a process in which DEC modifies its sport fishing regulations every two years. The proposals were unveiled in February to allow for early feedback from anglers and other interested parties and to help DEC officials determine whether the proposals should advance or be eliminated.

While the expansion of the Lake Erie trophy bass season has drawn much attention from the fishing community, it’s likely that in many years the wintertime offering won’t draw much activity. DEC officials, in announcing the proposal, admitted that during winter and early spring open-water fishing often isn’t possible due to ice and bad weather.

The lake’s trophy bass season, during which anglers can use live bait and keep one fish of 20 inches or longer, currently runs from the first Saturday in May up until the regular-season kickoff on the first Saturday in June.

Offering a Dec. 1 kickoff – the day after the regular bass season closes – would essentially create two bass seasons on Lake Erie instead of the current three.

DEC officials earlier this year called the proposal one that would expand fishing opportunities and also help achieve “simpler, more understandable regulations.”

The Dec. 1 to the Friday before the current trophy season kickoff  – which opens on the first Saturday in May – is currently a catch-and-release, artificial lures-only offering.

The Lake Erie trophy bass season tweak was seen as the biggest potential regulations change amid a lengthy list of proposals, most of which are designed to simplify and clarify rules and also eliminate regulations no longer needed.

Another proposal would remove the current prohibition on the use and possession of smelt on Lake George, and would also allow smelt fishing on the big lake.

It’s a major move, since Lake George is known as one of the top lake trout fisheries in the state, with lakers available in good numbers and a 23-inch size minimum in place.

Comments on the proposed regulations should be sent by email to or mailed to Gregory Kozlowski, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.

The full text of the proposed regulations is also available on DEC’s website at

Other proposed changes include:

Great Lakes

• Clarify that St. Lawrence River tributaries in Franklin and Clinton counties are exempt from Great Lakes regulations.

• Define the portion of Cattaraugus Creek subject to Lake Erie and tributary fishing regulations from Lake Erie upstream to the Springville Dam.

• Improved language for interpreting combined trout and salmon creel limit in Lake Ontario.

• Reduce the daily limit from five to three northern pike for St. Lawrence River and define boundary between Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

• Clarification of the boundary between Lake Ontario and the Salmon River.

• Provide an exception allowing access for fishing to the closed section of the Salmon River on Salmon River Hatchery property by permit.

Walleye, bass
and northern pike

• Establish an 18-inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of three walleye for Titicus Reservoir (Westchester County); Sacandaga Lake and tributaries and outlet and Lake Pleasant and tributaries (Hamilton County); Kiwassa Lake, St. Regis Falls Impoundment, and Little Wolf Pond (Franklin County); Putnam Pond (Essex County); Cazenovia and DeRuyter lakes (Madison County); Waterport Reservoir (Orleans County); Rio Reservoir (Orange and Sullivan counties); East Sidney Reservoir (Delaware County); Taghkanic Lake (Columbia County); Canadarago Lake (Otsego County); and additional portions of the Seneca River (Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Wayne counties).

• Eliminate 18-inch minimum size limit and daily creel limit of three walleye in Chautauqua Lake (Chautauqua County) and Franklin Falls Flow (Essex County).

• Clarify that the 22-inch minimum size five fish daily limit for northern pike regulation applies to the Wayne County portion of the Seneca River.

•Clarify that statewide black bass regulations apply to the Hamilton County portion of Fourth Lake.

• Eliminate the special regulation for black bass in the Hamilton County portion of the Hudson River.

Trout and salmon

• Decrease the minimum size limit for trout at Colgate Lake (Greene County) from 12 to 9 inches.

• Eliminate special trout regulation on Whey Pond (Franklin County).

• Eliminate the special regulation for landlocked salmon for Piseco Lake (Hamilton County).

• Decrease the minimum size length for lake trout in Woodhull Lake (Herkimer County) from 21 to 18 inches.

• Change the end time anglers are allowed to fish Spring Creek on the Caledonia State Fish Hatchery property from 4 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

• Eliminate the 9-inch minimum size limit for trout in the Carmans River (Suffolk County) in Southaven County Park as well as the catch and release section of the Carmans River for brown and rainbow trout.

• Reduce the number of brown trout and rainbow trout that can be kept as part of a five fish daily limit in Skaneateles Lake to no more than three of either species.

• Reduce the allowable daily harvest of brown trout and rainbow trout from five of each to three of each and increase the allowable daily harvest of lake trout from three to five as part of the five in any combination daily limit regulation for trout, lake trout, and landlocked salmon at Cayuga and Owasco lakes.

• Increase the minimum size limit for rainbow trout from 9 to 15 inches at Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco Lake tributaries.

Gear and use of gear

• Eliminate the allowance for spearing bullheads and suckers in all Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne county tributaries to Lake Ontario.

• Allow for the taking of suckers by snatching (but not blind snatching) from Jan. 1 through March 15 in specific portions of the Otselic and Tioughnioga rivers in Cortland County.

• Eliminate the allowance for lake whitefish snatching and blind snatching at Piseco Lake in Hamilton County.

•Continue to restrict the number of devices allowed for ice fishing on Bigsby and Copperas ponds (Essex County), Upper Saranac Lake (Franklin County), and Fawn Lake (Hamilton County).

•Allow for ice fishing in Rushford Lake in Allegany County.

• Re-open Crane Pond (Essex County) to ice fishing.

Baitfish and non-game fish

• Clarify that taking and possessing sauger and mooneye is prohibited in Lake Champlain.

Fishing prohibited

• Prohibit fishing at any time on Buttermilk Creek from mouth to Fox Valley Road Bridge.

• Close two short sections of Fish Creek and Indian River in St. Lawrence County to fishing from March 16 until the opening of walleye season.

• Close a section of the Grasse River in St. Lawrence County to all fishing from March 16 until the opening of walleye season.

• Clarify the portion of the Bouquet River that is closed to fishing at any time.

• Eliminate the angling and dipnetting prohibited regulation on Dutch Hollow Brook in Cayuga County.

• Several non-substantive regulation modifications are also proposed to remove duplicate regulations and to make structural changes designed to allow for easier modification of regulations in the future.

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