We've all been taught to 'follow the rules' beginning when we were very young. Rules, regulations, and laws have their place in society. And for freshwater fishing, they are also very important. Without them, many gamefish could be wiped out due to heavy angling pressure. Invasive species could further their hold on other waters. And certainly the balance of predator and prey would also be significantly changed.
Fishing regulations assure good fishing. They allow desired gamefish to spawn and ensure that trophy fish presence is sustained. In many cases they encourage the use of more challenging fishing methods and in others, promote the practice of catch and release.
New York's DEC Freshwater fishing regulations have expanded over the years. Ask many bass anglers why they aren't fishing and they are likely to say that bass are out of season. Nothing could be farther than the truth, however. Many species, such as bass, have extended seasons with limits, including size & quantity that can be kept, time of the day, time of the year, fishing method (i.e., artificial lures only), and location where fishing is allowed.
As we enter into prime fishing time, it pays to review New York's freshwater fishing regulations. Get caught in violation, and it could mean a fine, suspension of one's license, or even jail time. Following is the status of statewide general regulations for freshwater fish in our area:
- Bass, largemouth & smallmouth - open now using artificial lures and catch and release only. Full season opens on 6/21 this year and closes 11/30. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Panfish - open all year. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Walleye - open through March 15. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Landlocked Atlantic salmon - open through October 15. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Trout, rainbow, brown, lake and brook - open until October 15. Size and quantity possession limits apply. Some waters have extended seasons under special conditions.
- Northern Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Musky - open through March 15. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Musky - season opens on 6/21 this year and closes 11/30. Size and quantity possession limits apply.
- Catfish - open all year.
- Carp - open all year.
It is always wise to check and double-check regulations before heading out to fish, particularly if fishing new waters. Remember that regulations can vary depending on the water being fished. As an example, some trout species can be fished all year, yet on some waters, the season is only partially open during the year. Additionally, tributary waters around the Finger Lakes deserve special attention. Remember, there's no excuse in an Environmental Conservation Officer's eyes for an angler not to know the regulations. And always have an up-to-date license on your person when fishing.