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Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations

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

 

Special Regulations for 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.
  • 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.

Seasonal Regulations for Great Lakes Tributaries

Great Lakes Tributaries with Seasonal Closures

Water

County

Closed Period

Spooner Creek and tributaries

Erie

Fishing prohibited from Jan. 1 through March 31

North Branch Clear Creek and tributaries from
Taylor Hollow Road upstream to outflow of Clear Lake

Erie

Fishing prohibited from Jan. 1 through March 31

Great Lakes Tributaries with Seasonal Regulations
Portion of each tributary subject to seasonal regulations listed below.

Water

County

Portion of Tributary Subject to Special Regulations

Cattaraugus Creek

Erie & Cattaraugus

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

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

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

Salmon River

Oswego

From the upstream most navigation buoy located between the breakwalls at the mouth upstream to the County Route 52 bridge in Altmar. See special regulations for the Salmon River (Oswego County) fly fishing catch-and-release areas, which are listed separately here.

Black River

Jefferson

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

Buffalo River and Tributaries to the Buffalo River

Erie

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

All other tributaries

All

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

Seasonal Regulations for Waters Listed Above

Effective Dates

Seasonal tributary regulations are effective SEPTEMBER 1 THROUGH MARCH 31 for all waters listed in the table above, except the Salmon River in Oswego County where the effective dates are AUGUST 15 THROUGH APRIL 14.

Fishing Hours

Fishing at night (one-half hour after sunset until 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, and in the Salmon River in Oswego County, where fishing at night is permitted from Lake Ontario to the Route 3 bridge from April 1 through August 14.

Seasonal Regulations for Waters Listed in Both Tables here.

Hooks

  • Hooks attached to any lure, except an artificial fly, must be free-swinging.
  • Hooks may have a gap (distance between the shank and the point) of no more than one half inch.
  • Use of hooks with added weight is prohibited, except that artificial flies with no more than one-eighth ounce of added weight may be used. For the purposes of this regulation, 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” are otherwise met.
  • Only one hook with a single hook point is permitted, except on floating lures, as outlined below.

Floating Lures

  • A “floating lure” is a lure that floats while at rest in water regardless of any weight attached to the line, leader or lure.
  • Any hooks on a floating lure must be attached to the lure by a ring or swivel.
  • The distance between the body of a floating lure and the points of any attached hooks shall not exceed one and one-half inches.

Restrictions on the use of multiple hooks and hooks with multiple points on floating lures are as follows:

Water

County

Regulation

All Lake Ontario tributaries in Cayuga & Oswego counties except the Oswego and Salmon rivers

Restricted to 1 hook with a single hook point September 1 through March 31

Salmon River

Oswego

Restricted to 1 hook with a single hook point August 15 through October 31

Genesee River

Monroe

Restricted to 1 hook with a single hook point from the Driving Park bridge upstream to the lower falls September 1 through November 30

All other tributaries and the Oswego River

All

Multiple single, double, or treble hooks are permitted at all times

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.
  • In addition, when the above special tributary regulations are in effect for Lake Ontario tributaries in Oswego and Cayuga counties, and the Genesee River (Monroe County) from the Driving Park Bridge upstream to the Lower Falls: weight shall not be added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lure in any manner such that the weight hangs lower than the attached hook, artificial fly or lure when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod.

Great Lakes Waters Exempted from Seasonal Tributary Regulations

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

Tributaries to the St. Lawrence River

All tributaries in Clinton and Franklin

Statewide regulations apply

Special Regulations for the Salmon River (Oswego County) Fly Fishing Catch-And-Release Areas

Location

Two stream sections between County Route 52 Bridge in Altmar and the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir.

Fishing hours, season dates & boundaries

  • Angling Permitted: From one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Trespassing prohibited at night.
  • Lower Fly Section: 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: April 1 through November 30. From a marked boundary upstream of the New York State Salmon River Fish Hatchery property to marked boundary approximately 0.6 mile upstream at the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir tailrace.

Regulations

  • Catch & Release: All fish must be released without unnecessary injury.
  • Tackle Restrictions: Tackle is restricted to a traditional flyrod, flyreel and flyline. For these areas, a traditional flyline may be a floating or sinking flyline or shooting head. Use of less than 20 feet of floating, sinking or combination floating/sinking flyline or shooting head immediately behind the leader and in front of any running line or other backing is prohibited.
  • Flies: A single unweighted or weighted artificial fly having one hook point with a one-half inch maximum gap. A weighted fly may have no more than a one-eighth ounce added weight.
  • Leaders: The total length of the leader including the tippet shall not exceed 15 feet.

Additional Weight: Between August 15 and April 30 of the following year, the maximum distance between the artificial fly and any added weight to the line, leader or tippet shall not exceed four feet. Between May 1 and August 15, no supplemental weight shall be placed on the leader, tippet or fly line. At any time during the year, weight shall not be added to the line, leader, swivels or artificial fly in any manner such that the weight hangs lower than the attached fly when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod. Use of supplemental weight such that the weight is the primary means of propelling the cast rather than the fly line or shooting line is prohibited.

Special Year Round
Catch-and-Release
Regulations
for Chautauqua Creek and Eighteenmile Creek

Locations

  • Chautauqua Creek (Chautauqua County) from the bridge on South Gale Street upstream 1.3 miles to the upper dam used by the Village of Westfield for water intake.
  • Main Branch of Eighteen Mile Creek (Erie County), excluding S. Branch, contained within the Eighteen Mile Creek County Park.

Regulations

  • Catch and release only (trout and salmon)
  • Artificial flies or artificial lures only
  • Seasonal regulations regarding hooks, leaders and weights for Great Lakes tributaries shall apply.
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