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ECO Questions & Answers

Fishing Regulations Icon New York Fishing

ECO Jason DeAngelis helps a new angler land her catch at a youth fishing clinic hosted by DEC.

License Questions

Q: Does my fishing license cover me when fishing in saltwater, such as Long Island Sound?

A: No. Enrolling in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry is required when fishing saltwater or for migratory marine species in rivers such as the Hudson and Delaware.

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

A: The DEC encourages youth getting involved in the sport of fishing and discretion will be used as long as the child is actively involved in the fishing activity. An Environmental Conservation Officer may issue a ticket if the adult appears more actively involved in the fishing activity than the child.

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.

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

A: The fine range is determined by law and the fine amount is determined by the court upon a finding of guilt. Most fishing infractions are “violations” with a fine ranging 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 possess your license or other valid proof when fishing .

Q. Do any rules apply during “Free Fishing” days in NY?

Yes, although a freshwater fishing license is not required, all other rules apply, such as daily and size limits.

Fishing and Boating Regulation Questions

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

A: Contact an Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) if you are unsure of how a regulation should be interpreted. Contact a DEC Fisheries biologist for suggestions or questions about regulations. See the “Special Regulations” sections for phone numbers.

Q: What time may I start fishing on the first or last day of a fishing season?

A: Any time after midnight on opening day and up to midnight on the last day of a season, except where specific night fishing prohibitions apply.

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 I can’t cull fish during a bass tournament?

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

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

A: Yes. A special catch-and-release season for bass exists for most waters in New York State, allowing an angler to catch and immediately release bass while using artificial lures only. There are numerous exceptions, however, so check the special regulations of this guide for additional information.

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. 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 5 brook trout AND 5 rainbow trout in the same day.

Q: Can I really use 7 tip-ups while ice fishing?

A: Yes. The ice fishing regulations allow you to fish up to 7 ice fishing lines regardless of the device used.

Q: Do I need my name/address on a tip-up?

A: No. This regulation was repealed.

Q: How do I report people violating fishing regulations?

A: Violations of fish and wildlife laws, as well as other state environmental laws, should be reported as soon as possible to DEC at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267). Record as many details as possible. A dispatcher will help you file a complaint. ECOs will investigate and let you know the outcome.

Q: I understand that I must drain and clean my boat before launching. Is that true?

A: Yes. In an effort to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in New York State, regulations now require that boaters clean their boats of any visible plant and animal material, drain all water holding areas of the boat and treat their boat by drying or rinsing prior to launching in a public waterbody. Additional regulations for boat launches administered by the NY State Parks and DEC require that boats also be cleaned and drained prior to leaving the boat launch. For more information visit