NYSDEC Adopts New Fishing Regulations

Season opening dates and minimum crappie keeper size biggest changes to be felt

Members of the AFC and their catch of crappie from Findley Lake. Crappie minimum goes up to 10″ this year.

By Rich Davenport, published March 17, 2022

On March 17, 2022, the NYSDEC announced that new fishing regulations, based on two separate proposals released late last year, have been adopted and will take effect starting April 1, 2022.

The two proposals, one aimed at streamlining the fishing regulations, especially as they relate to trout fishing in ponds and lakes, and the other separate proposal dubbed the “Big Panfish Initiative”, had languished for much of the first quarter 2022, as anglers wondered whether these changes would be adopted and announced before the April 1 start of the regulation year.

Regulations meant to streamline the guide book into more simplified rules include changes to trout fishing in lakes and ponds. Current rules are a patchwork of special regulations that over time has become the norm instead of the intended exceptions. The new regulations will now see all waters that harbor rainbow trout, brow trout and splake, open year-round with a daily limit of 5 fish per day, with only 2 fish exceeding 12 inches, matching inland stream regulations for stocked streams. Special regulations will still apply in some areas, and in the Adirondack region ice fishing will not be permitted in Brook Trout lakes. Ice fishing is permitted on all waters in New York unless specifically prohibited with the exception of Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties where previous rules remain.

Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations now offer year-round fishing opportunities for this typically landlocked species.

Changes to season opening dates also accompany this regulatory package, which moves all opening days now to a hard date opener, vs. a specified Saturday of a given month. Impacted season changes include walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge seasons, which will now open on May 1, vs. the first Saturday in May. Inland muskellunge season will open June 1, rather than the last Saturday in May, although this year DEC will allow anglers to start fishing for inland musky on that last Saturday in May, due to many who have booked trips and lodging specifically to take advantage of the Memorial Day opening of this important gamefish. Meanwhile, black bass and Great Lakes muskellunge seasons will open June 15, vs. the third Saturday in June.

Oneida Lake will also see the walleye limits revert back to statewide definitions, and in Skaneateles Lake protections for walleye have been all but eliminated to keep the populations from growing. Walleye on that lake will be open year round, with no daily limit and a 12″ minimum size.

The Big Panfish Initiative regulations, whose comment period closed end of December 2021, got whittled down after negative comments were received that had some anglers perceiving the DEC was trying to “manage sunfish and crappie for trophy fishing. Out of the original proposals, only three elements survived, and all have been adopted as well. These changes include reducing statewide daily creel limit on sunfish from 50 per day to 25 per angler per day, increasing the minimum keeper size on crappie statewide from 9 inches to 10 inches, and establishing the experimental big sunfish waters, which encompasses roughly a dozen waters across the state to have special sunfish rules of an 8 inch minimum size and a 15 per day creel limit. In Region 9 that lake selected would be Silver Lake in Wyoming County.

Updated regulation guides, which have also had the advertising removed to make these booklets smaller, will be available for download and printing at home with these changes incorporated within the next week or so. License agents are expected to receive printed hard copies for those who desire one around the second week of April.

For more information, visit the NYSDEC website and look under recently adopted regulations.