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DEC announces adoption of new freshwater fishing regulations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the adoption of new freshwater fishing regulations that will take effect on April 1, 2022. Following a public comment period on the draft proposals earlier this year, the new regulations reflect the input received and the support of the angling community in DEC’s efforts to make fishing New York’s waters less complicated and easier to understand.

“The new regulations adopted today coupled with the reformatted Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide reflect DEC’s sustained commitment to ensuring the enjoyment of both novice and expert anglers in New York State by making fishing easy and accessible,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Amendments to freshwater fishing regulations provide greater consistency and significantly reduce special regulations while still maintaining protective measures to sustain the health of the State’s fisheries.”

DEC is implementing changes to reduce the number of special regulations while still providing the protections necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries, including changing some statewide regulations for certain species and eliminating special regulations that are no longer necessary. Some of the new statewide regulations were already broadly applied via special regulations. Some special regulations are still necessary, particularly for waters that require unique management strategies to achieve desired fisheries outcomes, but DEC has significantly reduced the number of special regulations. Additional changes include opening the season for all sportfish on a hard date and allowing ice fishing in waters inhabited by trout in most of the state.

DEC also adopted more conservative harvest regulations for sunfish to protect populations from overharvest and increased the minimum size limit for crappie to 10 inches to improve the stability and size structure of populations. DEC also placed experimental regulations on 11 waters to determine if larger sunfish can be produced under a 15-fish-per-day harvest limit and an eight-inch minimum size limit.

Notable Regulation Changes

A complete compilation of changes and an assessment of public comment associated with the final rulemaking is available on the DEC website at Major regulation changes include:

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

  • New statewide regulation for rainbow, brown trout, and splake in lakes and ponds. The season will now be open year-round, with a five-fish daily limit, any size, with a “no more than two longer than 12 inches” harvest rule;
  • Statewide Atlantic salmon regulations will now allow for a year-round open season;
  • 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;
  • New specific dates replaced floating dates for statewide season openers to include:
    • May 1 – Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel and Tiger Muskellunge;
    • June 1 – Muskellunge. Note that in 2022, DEC will allow for the fishing of muskellunge beginning the last Saturday in May to accommodate previously planned fishing trips; and
    • June 15 – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.
  • A five-fish daily walleye limit in Oneida Lake;
  • A new regulation to limit the growth of the walleye population in Skaneateles Lake. No daily possession limit; 12-inch minimum size limit, open year-round;
  • The statewide sunfish daily harvest limit has been reduced from 50 to 25 fish; and
  • The statewide minimum size limit for crappie has been increased from nine inches to 10

New 2022 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide

In 2021, DEC removed advertisements and articles from the annual fishing regulations guide to make it easier to use. This approach and larger print size continues this year, along with more improvements to facilitate finding regulations. Measuring 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches, the new guide allows anglers to keep a copy in their glovebox or tacklebox.

The new guide will be posted to the DEC website at to download or print at home later this month. Hard copies of the guide are currently being produced and guides are anticipated to be available at License Issuing Agents by the second week of April. Hard copies can also be requested by emailing [email protected].