Special Regulations for Great Lakes Tributaries

Fishing Regulations Icon New York Fishing

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

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

Seasonal fishing regulations apply September 1 to March 31.

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


  • 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 (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 artificial flies (Definitions) and jigs weighing no more than one-eighth ounce.

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:



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


Lake Ontario regulations apply

Sodus Bay


Lake Ontario regulations apply

South Sandy Pond


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:



Portion of Tributary Subject to Special Regulations

Eighteenmile Creek


From the Route 18 bridge upstream to Burt Dam

Oak Orchard Creek


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

Genesee River


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

Sterling Creek


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

Sterling Valley Creek


From McIntyre Road to impassable barrier upstream of Route 104A

Oswego River


From the Utica Street bridge upstream to the Varick Dam

Catfish Creek


From the mouth upstream to dam at County Route 1

Black River


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

All other tributaries


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

Examples of Legal Seasonal Fishing Rigs

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 (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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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


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

Fishing Great Lake Tributaries

Anglers fishing Great Lakes tributaries are reminded that some of these tributaries may contain hydro-electric generating plants with dams, spillways, and deep pools that may produce strong currents. Anglers should pay particular attention to warning notice signs and audible signals indicating fluctuating water levels, and the use of a personal flotation device (life jacket) when wading in these waters is highly recommended.