New York Fishing
Taking and Possession of Fish
General take and possession
- A person may not fish for a species (even if immediately released) during the closed season for that species on a given water. Fish caught during the closed season must be unhooked and released immediately. They may not be handled for any other purpose.
- A person may not have in possession, or intentionally kill or injure fish other than the sizes specified and allowed for that species on a given water.
- A person may not possess, kill or unnecessarily injure fish in excess of the daily limit for that species.
- Any fish an angler catches and immediately releases uninjured will not be counted as part of the daily limit for that species.
- A person may continue to fish for a species while in possession of a daily limit for that species provided all fish of that species subsequently caught are immediately returned to the water. See below for special provisions made for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
- A single, uninjured largemouth bass or smallmouth bass that an angler is landing, measuring or in the process of releasing from a recirculating or aerated livewell is not considered to be part of the daily limit.
- Any snakehead caught while angling cannot be released back into the water. They must be immediately euthanized and reported to DEC.
It is illegal to fish for, or possess fish that are officially listed by DEC as endangered or threatened:
- Endangered: silver chub, bluebreast darter, deepwater sculpin, gilt darter, pugnose shiner, round whitefish, shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon and spoonhead sculpin.
- Threatened: eastern sand darter, lake chubsucker, lake sturgeon, northern (longear) sunfish, mooneye, gravel chub, banded sunfish, longhead darter, swamp darter, spotted darter and mud sunfish.
Any unintentionally caught threatened or endangered fish species must be unhooked and released immediately. They may not be handled for any purpose other than removing the hook and placing them back into the water.
All foul-hooked trout, lake trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, pink salmon and landlocked salmon must be released without unnecessary injury to the fish. All foul-hooked walleye in Oneida Lake and the tributaries to first bridge upstream from the lake must be released without unnecessary injury to the fish.
Use of gaffs
Use or possession of gaffs or gaff hooks is prohibited when fishing in freshwater, including the Hudson River upstream of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, except when ice fishing.
Methods of Taking Fish
Angling means taking fish by hook and line. This includes bait and fly fishing, casting, trolling and the use of landing nets to complete the catch.
- Anglers must be in immediate attendance when their lines are in the water.
- The use of set lines where the angler is not in immediate attendance is prohibited.
- An angler may operate no more than three lines with or without a rod.
- each line is limited to not more than five lures or baits or a combination of both.
- in addition, each line shall not exceed 15 hook points in any combination of single, double or treble hooks.
- Snatching, lifting, hooking and use of tip-ups are not angling.
Ice fishing (see Definitions) is permitted in the following waters:
- All non-trout* waters unless otherwise prohibited.
- Certain trout waters* listed in the guide including Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, Finger Lakes, Border Waters, most New York City reservoirs, and all other waters designated as Ice Fishing Permitted in Special Regulations By County. Read through the regulations pertaining to the water you intend to fish.
* If you are unsure whether a water is considered trout or non-trout, contact the DEC Regional Office for that area.
Ice fishing regulations (where ice fishing is permitted)
- Fish may be taken in accordance with the seasons, minimum size and creel limits in effect in that water.
- No more than 7 ice-fishing lines (see Definitions) may be used, except as noted in Border Waters, Lake Champlain or Special Regulations By County.
- No person shall operate an ice fishing line that has more than 5 lures or baits or a combination of both, or has more than 15 hook points in any combination of single, double or treble hooks.
- The operator must be present when ice-fishing lines are in the water.
- Between May 1 and November 14, only hand lines (including rod and reels) may be used while ice fishing.
Ice shanties must be marked on the outside with the owner’s name and address in letters at least 3 inches high. Shanties must be removed from all waters by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice and becoming hazards to navigation.
Any person who has a fishing license, or is entitled to fish without a license, may operate one dip net as specified in the tables below, these are the only circumstances where dip-netting is permitted unless a commercial license has been obtained. Refer to Tidal Hudson River Regulations for regulations specific to dip net use for alewife and blueback herring on the Hudson River.
Note: Smelt, suckers, alewives and blueback herring are the only fish that may be taken with a dip net.
Any person who has a fishing or small game hunting license, or is entitled to fish without a license, may take carp of any size and in any number by longbow (recurve or compound) from May 15 through September 30 from any water of the state where fishing and the discharge of a bow is permitted. The Fish Carcass Disposal Law (General Regulations) must be followed. Taking fish by bow is otherwise prohibited. Taking fish by crossbow is prohibited at all times.
The taking of fish by snatching, but not blind snatching (see Definitions), is permitted from January 1 through March 15 only as follows:
- In Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties, suckers may be taken from any stream.
- In Delaware County, suckers may be taken from the West Branch Delaware River, East Branch Delaware River and Charlotte Creek.
- In Otsego County, suckers may be taken from the Unadilla River, Wharton Creek and Butternut Creek.
- In Fulton, Saratoga, Washington, Franklin, Warren, Clinton, Essex and Hamilton counties, suckers may be taken from any stream except the Mohawk River, the Hudson River downstream of Bakers Falls including tributaries upstream to the first barrier, or tributaries to Lake Champlain and Lake George upstream to the first barrier.
- In Chenango and Madison counties, suckers may be taken from the Chenango River downstream of Randallsville and the Unadilla River downstream of South Edmeston.
- In Cortland County, suckers may be taken from the Otselic River from the State Route 23 Bridge in Lower Cincinnatus to the County Route 169 Bridge in Landers Corners and in the Tioughnioga River from the County Route 121 Bridge in Blodgett Mills to the State Route 221 Bridge in Marathon.
- Grappling hooks and snatch hooks may not be possessed on Lake George or within 200 feet of the high water mark of Lake George, except in a dwelling or building. Possession of snatch hooks is prohibited on all waters except those where fish may be taken by snatching.
The taking of fish by spear (not spear gun) is permitted only as follows:
- In Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties, suckers may be taken in any stream from January 1 through May 15.
- In Montgomery County, suckers may be taken from January 1 through May 15 from Evas Kill, Flat Creek, Canajoharie Creek from the mouth to the dam one-half-mile above the mouth, and Caroga Creek.
- In Otsego County, suckers may be taken from January 1 through May 15 from Herkimer Creek, Hyder Creek, Trout (Mink) Creek, Hayden Creek from mouth to the Shipman Pond Dam, Shadow Brook, Sand Hill Creek from the mouth to Rte. 7 bridge, Otsdawa Creek from the mouth to Rte. 7 bridge and Mill Creek from the mouth to Rte. 7 bridge.
- In Clinton County, bowfin, burbot, carp, freshwater drum, gar, redhorse and suckers may be taken from March 20 through September 30 from Corbeau Creek and Scomotion Creek from the mouth upstream to Beekmantown town line.
- In Lake Champlain, bowfin, burbot, carp, freshwater drum, gar, redhorse and suckers may be taken from March 20 through September 30.
- In Franklin County, bowfin, burbot, carp, freshwater drum, gar, redhorse and suckers may be taken from March 20 through September 30 from Big Salmon River from Canada upstream to the Route 37 bridge in Fort Covington, Lawrence Brook from the county line upstream to County Rte. 6 west of Moira, Little Salmon River from the mouth upstream to County Rte. 32 in South Bombay, Pike Creek from Canada upstream to State Rte. 95 west of Bombay, St. Regis River from Canada upstream to the dam at Hogansburg, and Farrington Brook from the mouth upstream to U.S. Rte. 11.
- In the Hudson River, carp and suckers may be taken from March 20 through September 30 from Bakers Falls in the Village of Hudson Falls upstream to the confluence of Stony Creek in Warren County.
- In Wayne County, bullhead and suckers may be taken from January 1 through May 15 from Black Creek Bay and Red Creek Bay.
- Use of spearguns is prohibited in the freshwaters of New York.
- Spears may not be used within 275 yards of eel weirs.
- Spears may not be possessed on any water in the Adirondack Park or within 200 feet of the high water mark of these waters.
- Possession of spears is prohibited on all waters except where the taking of fish by spear is permitted.
Use of fish traps
Fish (minnow) traps may only be used to take baitfish. See Baitfish Regulations for minnow trap specifications.
See Baitfish Regulations.
Use of nets
Nets may only be used to take fish as follows:
- The use of a landing net to complete the catch while angling is permitted.
- Personally harvested baitfish may be collected with the various nets as described on Baitfish Regulations.
- Smelt, suckers, alewife and blueback herring may be collected by dip nets as described on Tidal Hudson River Regulations and Baitfish Regulations.
- No other use of nets to collect fish is permitted.
Regulations for Harvested Fish
Fish cleaning law
It is illegal on New York State waters to possess walleye, black bass, brook trout, lake trout or Atlantic salmon that have been cut, dismembered, filleted, skinned or otherwise altered so that the species and total length of such fish cannot be easily determined. However, these fish may be gilled or gutted. Other species of fish may be filleted provided that the skin is not removed from the fillets. This regulation allows more effective enforcement of harvest regulations on protected game fish.
It is illegal to discard any fish carcass, or parts thereof, into the freshwaters of the state within 100 feet of shore or upon any public or private lands contiguous to and within 100 feet of such water, except:
- On private lands by owners of such lands.
- If properly disposing into suitable garbage or refuse collection systems or by burial.
- Where incidental cleaning of fish for consumption is permitted. However, resulting waste may not be disposed of within 100 feet of any public launching or docking site unless into a suitable refuse collection system.
- Live fish and fish which must be returned to the water because of size limits, open seasons and daily limits are not subject to the fish carcass disposal law.
Transportation of fish is permitted as follows:
Fish caught in New York State
- No more than two days’ legal take of nonsalable fish may be transported unless a permit is obtained from a DEC Regional Office, or the fish are frozen, processed and packaged for storage.
- Smelt, suckers, alewives, and blueback herring taken by dip nets (pages 22 and 51) or angling, and suckers taken by spearing, may be transported overland by motorized vehicle for consumption purposes only. Once those species are transported away from the water body, they may not be transported back to any water body for use as bait.
- Salable fish may be transported in any number.
- Baitfish transportation regulations can be found on pages 55–57.
Fish caught outside of New York State
Fish caught outside of NY may be transported into New York in any manner, except parcel post, in the number that may be legally exported from the place of taking.
Non-salable fish transported by carrier
A tag must be attached showing name and address of both taker and consignee, and contents of the package.
Purchase and Sale of Fish
Fish that are salable at any time include:
- Those species in the Statewide Angling Regulations table for which there is no closed season and no minimum length.
- The following fish only if taken outside of New York State or if legally taken with licensed commercial gear: coho, Chinook and pink salmon, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, whitefish, pickerel, crappie, northern pike and walleye. Additional regulations may apply to the sale of these imported fish; contact a DEC regional office for more information. Exception: The American eel is the only fish taken from the Quebec portion of Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River that may be transported into and sold in New York State.
Fish that are non-salable are fish that have a minimum size limit or a closed season.
- Black bass, landlocked salmon, muskellunge and trout taken on a licensed fishing preserve or private hatchery and properly tagged or documented may be sold.
- Sale of catfish taken in Lake Ontario and its tributaries upstream to the first barrier impassable by fish and in the St. Lawrence River is prohibited.
- Sale of American eel from the Hudson, Harlem and East rivers is prohibited, except for use as bait.
- Eggs taken from Chinook salmon and coho salmon caught in Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, or their tributaries upstream to the first impassable barrier may be sold by only sport fishermen for use as bait.
Natural Baits Other Than Baitfish
Salamanders and snakes
Native salamanders and snakes cannot be collected or used as bait.
No aquatic insect (or any insect that lives in the water during any of its life stages) shall be taken from waters inhabited by trout, or from the banks of those waters at anytime.
- Rusty crayfish may not be purchased and/or transported to a water body (Definitions) for use as bait or to be released.
- Rusty crayfish may not be transported away from or within a water body (Definitions).
- No person shall possess more than one quart total of fish eggs from trout, lake trout or Atlantic salmon while on the waters of the state or the shores thereof. Fish eggs which are still inside the carcass of an intact, legally caught and possessed fish shall not be counted towards the one quart total.
- No person shall take or attempt to take any fish by means of chumming with fish eggs. For the purposes of this section, “chumming” means depositing fish eggs, not attached to a hook, in the waters of the State of New York other than in the Marine and Coastal District.
Taking and possession of frogs
Any person who has a hunting or fishing license or is entitled to fish without a license may take frogs with a spear, club, hook or by hand. A small game hunting license is required to take frogs with a gun or a longbow. Frogs may be taken in any number and at any time from June 15 through September 30, except that no person shall use a gun to take frogs between sunset to sunrise. Frogs may be imported, bought and sold at any time. An importer must keep a record of names and addresses of buyers and sellers.
Exception: Leopard frogs may not be taken in NYC, Nassau or Suffolk counties. Northern cricket frogs or eastern spadefoot toads may not be taken anywhere in New York State.
Stop the spread of aquatic invasive species
in New York State
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants and animals that spoil boating and fishing, threaten native plants and animals, and destroy habitat. They are difficult and costly to remove, so let’s keep them out.
All boaters in New York State must:
- Inspect floating docks, watercraft, trailers and equipment, and remove visible plant and animal material.
- Drain, and if possible, flush your boat’s bilge, live well, bait well and other water-holding compartments after use.
For more information:
Daily Hours & Limit
|Tupper Lake|| |
Lake and Bog River upstream to Rt 421
|Canandaigua Lake |
All from lake upstream to first barrier impassable by fish
Exceptions: no dipping in Catharine Creek and L’Hommedieu Diversion channel (Seneca Lake) and upstream of old Lehigh Valley Railroad bridge at Naples Creek (Canandaigua Lake)
|Indian Lake |
Fulton Chain (except Seventh Lake)
East Caroga Lake
West Caroga Lake
April 1 through May 15
5 am to 10 pm
All from lake upstream to first barrier impassable by fish. No dipping in Mead Creek from mouth upstream to State Route 29A
|Hudson River from Mario M. Cuomo Bridge upstream to the Troy Dam|| |
All from river upstream to first barrier impassable by fish
|Marine and Coastal District (Definitions)|| |
Contact (631) 444-0430 or www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7894.html
Smelt may be taken in any size dip net as follows:
|Lake Erie |
All from lake upstream to first barrier impassable by fish
Suckers may be taken in a dip net not exceeding 14 inches in diameter, or 13 x 13 inches if square, as follows:
|Cayuga Lake|| |
All tributaries from the lake upstream to the first impassable barrier by fish
|Seneca Lake|| |
All except Catharine Creek
|Canandaigua Lake|| |
All except Naples Creek where netting is prohibited upstream of old Lehigh Valley Railroad bridge
|Hudson River upstream to Troy Dam|| |
All from river upstream to first barrier impassable by fish
A DEC stocking permit is required to stock fish (including fish used as bait) into a New York State water body (Definitions). A stocking permit application may be obtained from your regional DEC Fisheries Office.
If you catch a tagged fish, write down the tag number, length of the fish, date and location of capture, and send this information to the address on the tag. You will be sent information about DEC’s tagging program and the individual fish reported. Please don’t remove tags from fish you release.
If You Catch Me, Release Me
Hellbenders are New York’s largest salamander (up to 2 feet long!) and DEC needs your help conserving these unique and declining animals. Like all salamanders, these protected animals are harmless (and toothless).
If you catch a hellbender or any salamander while fishing:
- Do not suspend the salamander from the hook and line.
- Carefully remove the hook or cut the line and release the animal back into the water.
- Minimize handling the animal.
If you can, snap a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.