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Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations

Fishing Regulations Icon New York Fishing

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 definition on Definitions).
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except for artificial flies (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.

Anglers are advised that attempting to take fish by snatching in any Great Lakes tributary, which is indicated by repeated or exaggerated jerking motions of the fishing rod, is prohibited (see definition of snatching on Definitions).

 

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

December 1 through the Fri preceding the 3rd Sat in June

20″

1

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

12″

5

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

Let Them Grow

Unlike Pacific Salmon, Rainbow trout (steelhead), brown trout and Atlantic salmon are repeat spawners. Releasing these fish will provide them the opportunity to grow larger, improving future fishing opportunities for you and other anglers.

 

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

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

Attention Boaters

All individuals born on or after 5/1/96 are now required to successfully complete an approved course in boater education in order to operate a motorboat. To find a boating course near you go to: www.parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating/

 

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 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 (Lake Ontario)

1st Sat in May through March 15

22″

5

Northern Pike (St. Lawrence River
and tributaries downstream of
Tibbets Point)

1st Sat in May through March 15

22″

3

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

Life Jackets

Every pleasure vessel, including canoes, kayaks and rowboats, must have on board at least one wearable personal floatation device (PFD) for each person on board. Children under 12 years of age on any vessel 65 ft. or less in length must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while underway.

From November 1 – May 1, everyone must wear a PFD when underway on pleasure boats less than 21 ft.

For more information on boating safety regulations, go to www.parks.ny.gov.