Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation

Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations

These regulations apply to New York waters of Lake Erie, the Upper and Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and designated sections of the tributaries to these waters. Tributary sections subject to these regulations are generally defined as the bridge closest to the mouth upstream to the first barrier impassable to fish. Tributaries with different boundaries and exemptions are listed separately below. Note that there are also seasonal tackle restrictions and restrictions on night fishing in the tributaries. Statewide angling regulations apply for species not listed.

Regulations for All Great Lakes & Tributaries

Regulations for all Great Lakes waters, including Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Upper and Lower Niagara River, St. Lawrence River and tributaries to these waters.

At all times:

  • Snatching and attempting to snatch is prohibited. See definition of snatching on Definitions.
  • All foul-hooked fish must be immediately released without unnecessary injury.
  • Use or possession of gaff hooks is prohibited except when ice fishing.
  • Any action to frighten fish and move them from concealment, including herding, driving, kicking or stoning, is prohibited.
  • The use of eggs for chumming is prohibited (see General Regulations).

Special Regulations for Lake Erie Tributaries

Lake Erie tributaries with seasonal closures

Fishing is prohibited from Jan. 1 through March 31 on Spooner Creek and its tributaries, and North Branch Clear Creek and tributaries from Taylor Hollow Road upstream to the outflow of Clear Lake.

Lake Erie tributary seasonal fishing regulations

Fishing hours

  • Fishing only permitted one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (fishing at night is prohibited).

Hook, leader and weight regulations

  • The distance between a hook’s shaft and point cannot exceed one-half inch.
  • Hooks attached to any lure must be free-swinging, except on an artificial fly (see Definitions).
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except for artificial flies (see Definitions) and jigs weighing no more than one-eighth ounce are permitted.
  • The distance between the hook, artificial fly or lure and any weight attached to the line or leader, whether fixed or sliding, shall not exceed four feet.

Lake Erie and Tributaries Angling Regulations

Species

Open Season

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon

All year

12″

3 in any combination

Lake Trout

All year

12″

1

Northern Pike

1st Sat In May through March 15

22″

5

Walleye

1st Sat In May through March 15

15″

6

Muskellunge, Tiger Muskellunge

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

54″

1

Yellow Perch, Sunfish

All year

Any size

50 of each

Black Bass

1st Sat in May through the Fri preceding the 3rd Sat in June

20″

1

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

12″

5

Dec 1 through the Fri preceding the 1st Sat in May

Catch and release only

Artificial lures only

Lake Sturgeon

Closed

Possession Prohibited

Lake Erie Year-Round Catch-And-Release Regulations for Chautauqua and Eighteenmile Creeks

  • Catch and release only for trout and salmon in creek sections described below
  • Only artificial flies or artificial lures can be used in catch-and-release sections
  • Seasonal regulations regarding hooks, leaders, and weights apply (see below)

Water

County

Section

Chautauqua Creek

Chautauqua

From bridge on South Gale Street upstream 1.3 miles to the upper Village of Westfield water intake dam

Eighteenmile Creek

Erie

Main branch of creek (excluding South Branch) contained within Eighteenmile Creek County Park

Portions of Lake Erie Tributaries Subject to Seasonal (September 1 through March 31) Regulations

The following tributary sections are subject to seasonal fishing regulations
described below during the period September 1 through March 31:

Water

County

Section

Cattaraugus Creek

Erie and Cattaraugus

From the Aldrich Street Extension Bridge in Gowanda upstream to Springville Dam

Buffalo River and its tributaries

Erie

From the I-90 (NYS Thruway) bridge upstream to first barrier impassable by fish

All others

Erie, Chautauqua

From bridge closest to the mouth upstream to the first barrier impassable by fish

Upper Niagara River and Tributaries Angling Regulations

Species

Open Season

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (Including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon

All year

Any size

3 in any combination

Lake Trout

All year

12″

1

Northern Pike

1st Sat In May through March 15

22″

5

Walleye

1st Sat In May through March 15

15″

6

Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

54″

1

Yellow Perch, Sunfish

All year

Any size

50 of each

Black Bass (north of the Peace Bridge)

Statewide Angling Regulations Apply

Lake Sturgeon

Closed

Possession Prohibited

Statewide gear restrictions apply in Upper Niagara River and tributaries.

Lower Niagara River and Tributaries Angling Regulations

Species

Open Season

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon

All year

15″, except 21″
for Rainbow Trout

3 (Trout & Salmon) in any combination, not to include more than 1 Atlantic Salmon or 2 Lake Trout

Lake Trout

Jan 1 through Sept 30

None, except only 1 Lake Trout may be between 25″ and 30″

Atlantic Salmon

All year

25″

Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge

3rd Sat in June through Dec 15

54″

1

Northern Pike

1st Sat in May through March 15

22″

5

Black Bass

Statewide Angling Regulations Apply

Walleye

1st Sat in May through Dec 31

18″

3

Jan 1 through March 15

18″

1

Yellow Perch, Sunfish

All year

Any size

50 of each

Lake Sturgeon, American Eel

Closed

Possession Prohibited

Statewide gear restrictions apply in Lower Niagara River and tributaries.

Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, and
Their Tributaries* Angling Regulations

Species

Open Season

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout (including Steelhead), Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon

All year

15″, except 21″ for Rainbow Trout or Steelhead

3 in any combination, not to include more than 1 Rainbow Trout (or Steelhead) in the tributaries

Except 9″ for brown trout in Irondequoit Creek (entire), Lindsey Creek and Skinner Creek (Oswego and Jefferson Counties), and the Black River (Jefferson County)

Lake Trout

Jan 1 through Sept 30

None (except no more than 1 shall be between 25″ and 30″)

2

Atlantic Salmon

All year

25″

1

Northern Pike

1st Sat in May through March 15

22″

5

Black Bass (Lake Ontario & tributaries except in Jefferson County)

Statewide Angling Regulations Apply

Black Bass (Lake Ontario and tributaries in Jefferson County & St. Lawrence River and tributaries)

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

12″

5

Fishing for black bass (including catch & release) is prohibited outside of the open season.

Walleye

1st Sat in May through March 15

18″

3

Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge

3rd Sat in June through Dec 15

54″

1

Lake Sturgeon, American Eel

Closed

Possession Prohibited

Yellow Perch, Sunfish

All year

Any size

50
Except Yellow Perch and Sunfish may be taken in any number in Jefferson County

* Statewide Angling Regulations  apply to all St. Lawrence River tributaries in Clinton and Franklin counties.

Special Regulations for Great Lakes Tributaries

Special Regulations for Lake Ontario Tributaries Except the Lower Niagara River and Salmon River

Lower Niagara and Salmon River regulations can be found on Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations.

Lake Ontario tributaries with seasonal closures

Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County)

Fishing is prohibited from March 16 through the first Saturday in May from the State Route 3 bridge downstream 850 feet to the intersection of the channelized area and upstream 1.0 miles from the bridge to the Public Fishing Rights section.

Lake Ontario tributary seasonal fishing regulations

Fishing hours

Fishing from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise is prohibited except in the Black River (Jefferson County) from Lake Ontario upstream to the Route 180 bridge in Dexter, where fishing is permitted at all times.

Hook, leader and weight regulations

Hooks:

  • Only one hook with a single hook point is permitted, except as outlined below for floating lures and artificial flies.
  • Hooks attached to any lure must be free-swinging, except on an artificial fly (see Definitions).
  • An artificial fly (see Definitions) can only have a single hook with no more than two hook points. Tandem artificial flies are not permitted.
  • The gap between a hook’s shaft and point cannot exceed one-half inch.
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except that artificial flies (see Definitions) and jigs weighing no more than one-eighth ounce are permitted.

Floating lures:

  • A floating lure is a lure that floats at rest in water with or without any weight attached to the lure, leader or line.
  • Can have multiple treble hooks.
  • Any hooks on a floating lure must be attached to the lure by a ring or swivel except for artificial flies.
  • The distance between the body of a floating lure and the points of any attached hooks shall not exceed one and one-half inches.

Leaders and weights:

  • The distance between the hook, artificial fly or lure and any weight attached to the line or leader, whether fixed or sliding, shall not exceed four feet.
  • Any weight added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lure shall not hang lower than the hook when the line or leader is held vertically.

Lake Ontario Waters and Tributaries Exempted from Seasonal Tributary Regulations

The following regulations apply except those listed in the table below:

Water

County

Applicable Regulations

Niagara River

Erie & Niagara

Upper Niagara River or Lower Niagara River regulations apply

Round Pond, Buck Pond, Long Pond, Cranberry Pond, and Irondequoit Bay

Monroe

Lake Ontario regulations apply

Sodus Bay

Wayne

Lake Ontario regulations apply

South Sandy Pond

Oswego

Lake Ontario regulations apply

Sections of Lake Ontario Tributaries Subject to Seasonal (Sept. 1 to Mar. 31) Regulations

The following tributary sections are subject to seasonal fishing regulations
described below during the period September 1 to March 31:

Water

County

Portion of Tributary Subject to Special Regulations

Eighteenmile Creek

Niagara

From the Route 18 bridge upstream to Burt Dam

Oak Orchard Creek

Orleans

From the power lines that are 1.9 miles upstream (south) of Route 18 bridge upstream to Waterport Dam

Genesee River

Monroe

From the State Route 104 Bridge upstream to the Lower Falls.

Sterling Creek

Cayuga

From Old State Road to impassable barrier upstream of Route 104A

Sterling Valley Creek

Cayuga

From McIntyre Road to impassable barrier upstream of Route 104A

Oswego River

Oswego

From the Utica Street bridge upstream to the Varick Dam

Catfish Creek

Oswego

From the mouth upstream to dam at County Route 1

Black River

Jefferson

From the upstream tip of the lowermost island to Mill Street dam in Watertown

All other tributaries

All

From the bridge closest to the mouth upstream to first barrier impassable by fish

Special Regulations by Section for Salmon River and Tributaries (Oswego County)

Salmon River fly fishing catch-and-release sections

Fishing hours, season dates and locations

  • Angling Permitted: From one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
  • Lower Fly Section: Open September 15 through May 15, from County Route 52 Bridge in Altmar upstream 0.25 mile to the marked boundary at Beaverdam Brook.
  • Upper Fly Section: Open April 1 through November 30 from a marked boundary upstream of the New York State Fish Hatchery property to a marked boundary 0.6 mile upstream at the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir tailrace.
  • Fishing is prohibited outside the open season.

Catch & release

All fish must be immediately released without unnecessary injury.

Tackle restrictions

Tackle is restricted to a traditional fly rod, fly reel, fly line, and artificial fly (see Definitions). Restrictions on fly lines, flies, attractors, leaders and supplemental weight are as follows:

Fly lines:

  • Use of less than 20 feet of floating, sinking, or combination floating/sinking fly line or shooting head immediately behind the leader and in front of any running line or other backing is prohibited.
  • From May 1 through August 31: Floating fly lines only.
  • From September 1 through April 30: Floating, sinking, and sink tip fly lines are permitted.

Flies:

  • From May 1 through August 31: a single unweighted artificial fly having one hook point with a one-half inch maximum gap only permitted.
  • From September 1 through April 30: a single unweighted or weighted artificial fly with no more than 1/8 oz. added weight, having one hook point with a one-half-inch maximum gap only permitted.

Attractors:

  • The use of added baits or attractors such as, but not limited to, fish eggs, insects, beads, spoons, spinners, plugs, or similar devices on the line above the artificial fly is prohibited.

Leaders:

  • The total length of the leader including the tippet shall not exceed 15 feet.
  • From May 1 through August 31: sinking and metal leaders are prohibited.

Additional weight:

  • From May 1 through August 31: the use of supplemental weight such as split shot, sinkers, metal leaders, twist-ons, or swivels attached to the leader, tippet, fly line or fly is prohibited.
  • From September 1 through April 30: the use of supplemental weight is permitted with the following restrictions.
    • The combined weight of any supplemental weight and fly may not exceed one-eighth of an ounce.
    • The maximum distance between the artificial fly and any added weight to the line, leader or tippet shall not exceed four feet.
    • Weight added to the line, leader, swivels, or artificial fly in any manner such that the weight hangs lower than the attached fly is prohibited.

Beaverdam Brook in Altmar fishing closure

Fishing in Beaverdam Brook and its tributaries, Oswego County, is prohibited from their mouths to the upstream boundary of the Salmon River Hatchery property.

Special Regulations for Great Lakes Tributaries

Salmon River Downstream of Rt. 52 Bridge in Altmar

From the upstream most navigation buoy located between the breakwalls at the
mouth of the river upstream to the County Rt. 52 bridge in Altmar.

Effective Dates

Regulations

April 15 – August 14

  • Statewide gear restrictions apply.

August 15 – April 14

    • Fishing is prohibited at night from ½ hr. after sunset to ½ hr. before sunrise except as permitted below.
    • Only one hook with a single hook point and a gap not exceeding ½ inch is permitted except on floating lures as noted below.
    • Hooks attached to any lure, except an artificial fly, must be free swinging and unweighted. Artificial flies with no more than 1/8 oz. of added weight may be used. The method by which weight is added to a hook does not affect classification as an “artificial fly” provided the conditions of the definition of an artificial fly on Definitions are met.
  • The distance between the hook, artificial fly or lure and any weight attached to the line or leader, whether fixed or sliding, shall not exceed 4 ft.
  • Weight shall not be added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lure in any manner that the weight hangs lower than the attached hook when the line is suspended vertically from the rod.

August 15 – Oct 31

Additional Regulations for Floating Lures Apply

  • A bead chain may be attached to the floating lure with a ring.
  • The bead chain may not exceed a distance of three and one half inches between the body of the floating lure and the hook point.
  • 1 hook with a single hook point and a gap of no more than 5/8 in. may be attached to the bead chain or directly to the lure.

Nov 1 – April 14

  • Multiple single, double and treble hooks are permitted on floating lures

April 1 – August 14

  • Fishing at night is permitted from Lake Ontario to Rt. 3 Bridge

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

Return to the eregulations.com home page
Conservation Partner Advertisements: The New York Department of Environmental Conservation allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with New York Department of Environmental Conservation Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC & eRegulations.com, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/eRegulations.com directly at 413-884-1001,
J.F. Griffin reaches 20 million sportsmen every year through our print and digital publications. We produce 47 hunting and fishing regulation guides for 22 state agencies.
For advertising information, please visit: www.jfgriffin.com