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New freshwater fishing regulations will go into effect on April 1, 2022. The bulk of these changes are associated with DEC’s continuing efforts to expand fishing opportunities and make fishing as easy and enjoyable as possible, while still providing protections that ensure our fisheries remain sustainable. Two rulemakings were adopted to achieve these objectives, which reflects public input received on the draft proposal. Both rulemakings are described in more detail below.
The changes implemented through this rulemaking resulted in the elimination of over 200 special regulations and a regulatory structure that is more consistent by changing some statewide regulations for certain species. 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. 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.
Not all changes proposed were promulgated. Based on feedback, proposed changes to statewide regulations for lake trout and brook trout in ponds were not adopted. However, going forward, DEC will develop a new plan for managing ponded brook trout waters and will also re-evaluate its lake trout management in smaller waters.
A full assessment of this rulemaking, which includes all public comments, responses to comments, and rationales for adoption or exclusion can be found in the link below.
Through this rulemaking, DEC adopted more conservative harvest regulations for sunfish to protect populations from overharvest and increase the minimum size limit for crappie to 10 inches to improve the stability and size structure of populations. Experimental regulations through the Big Panfish Initiative (BPI) were also placed 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. Documents associated with this rulemaking can be found below.
The following list offers a brief summary of the most notable fishing regulation changes resulting from the adopted rulemakings described above.
- New statewide regulation for rainbow trout, 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 ten inches.
View a comprehensive list of all regulation changes statewide and per waterbody in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Changes for 2022 (PDF) document.