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Environmental Conservation Police Q&A

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A quick reference to some of the more commonly asked questions
concerning New York State fishing regulations

Q: The “Statewide Regulations” indicate that the walleye season runs from the first Saturday in May through March 15. Can I fish for walleye on March 15?

A: Yes. The walleye season runs through March 15 and closes at midnight. Note that in the regulations guide, a dash (–) is often used instead of the word “through.”

Q: If trout season opens April 1, what time may I start fishing?

A: Anytime after 12 midnight.

Q: Who do I contact if I have a question concerning a fishing regulation?

A: We strongly recommend that you contact the law enforcement office in the DEC region covering the water where you fish. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each DEC region can be found in the “Special Regulations” section of the guide.

Q: Do I need a fishing license to help my child fish?

A: Unlike states such as Pennsylvania that have a specific law that waives the fishing license requirement for an adult directly assisting a child, New York State does not have such a law. We strongly encourage children to get involved in the sport of fishing and discretion will be used as long as the child is actively involved in the fishing activity.  If in the eyes of an Environmental Conservation Officer an adult is more actively involved in the fishing activity than the child that they are supposedly instructing, a citation for fishing without a license could be issued.

Q: I own a camp on a 100 acre private lake. Do I need a fishing license?

A: Yes. A fishing license is required for anyone 16 years of age or older, whether the lake is accessible to the public or not. Note that there are exceptions for holders of a Farm Fish Pond License, but this license only applies to ponds 10 acres or less in size located on an active farm.

Q: If I get a ticket for fishing without a license, how much will it cost?

A: The fine amount is determined by the court. They may impose a fine from $0 to $250 and/or 15 days in jail.

Q: Can I keep my fishing license in my vehicle when I am fishing so it doesn’t get wet?

A: No. You must be in possession of your license or other valid proof (see License Informationwhen fishing.

Q: Can I continue to fish once I have caught and kept my daily limit?

A: Yes. As long as you immediately release any additional fish you catch, you may continue to fish after reaching the daily limit.

Q: Does this mean that I can’t cull fish during a bass tournament?

A: No. A special provision is provided for black bass anglers that allows the replacement of a single, uninjured largemouth or smallmouth bass in a livewell with another bass.

Q: The trout season is closed on my favorite stream; can I still fish for trout if I release all of the fish that I catch?

A: No. It is illegal to target a fish during its closed season.

Q: How about catch-and-release fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass — can I do that during the closed season?

A: Yes. A special catch-and-release season running from December 1 through the Friday preceding the third Saturday in June exists for many waters in New York State. This allows an angler to catch and immediately release a bass using artificial lures only. However, there are exceptions to this regulation on Long Island and in several northern New York counties in DEC regions 5 and 6.

Q: If the daily limit for a particular species is five fish and I keep five from a lake, can I keep another five from another lake?

A: No. The legal limit represents the maximum number of a species you can keep in a day. After reaching the legal limit, you cannot keep any more of that species on the same day. Note that some species such as trout, bass and panfish are lumped together in a species category, and the daily limit applies to the total number of fish kept in that category. For example, you may keep three brook trout and two rainbow trout for a total of five trout in a day, but you may not keep five brook trout AND five rainbow trout in the same day.

Q: My daughter is under 16 years of age and does not need a fishing license. Can she still take a daily limit of fish?

A: An angler is entitled to a daily limit of fish whether they need a fishing license or not.

Q: Am I now required to remove all visible plant and animal material from my boat and trailer and drain my bilge and livewell when launching at or leaving a DEC boat launch?

A: Yes. Please see page 2 for more information.

Additional Q&As can be found on Region 1 · Long Island and Region 5 · Northeastern New York.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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