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Environmental Conservation Police Q & A


Q: The “Statewide Regulations” indicate that the walleye season runs from the first Saturday in May through March 15. Can I fish for walleye on March 15?

A: Yes. The walleye season runs through March 15 and closes at midnight. Note that in the regulations guide, a dash (–) is often used instead of the word “through.”

Q: I want to know if there are any special fishing regulations on a lake that I fish. How do I find out if there are any special regulations that I need to be aware of?

A: Refer to the “Special Regulations by County.” If your lake is not listed under the county where it is located, the “Statewide Angling Regulationsapply.

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

A: We strongly recommend that you contact the law enforcement office in the DEC region covering the water where you fish. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each DEC region can be found in the “Special Regulations by County” section of the guide.

Q: I just turned 16 years old. Do I need a fishing license now?

A: Yes. Once you turn 16 years old, you need a fishing license to legally fish in New York State. Until then, a fishing license is not required.

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

A: Unlike states such as Pennsylvania that have a specific law that waives the fishing license requirement for an adult directly assisting a child, New York State does not have such a law.  We strongly encourage children to get involved in the sport of fishing and discretion will be used as long as the child is actively involved in the fishing activity.  If in the eyes of an Environmental Conservation Officer an adult is more actively involved in the fishing activity than the child that they are supposedly instructing, a citation for fishing without a license could be issued.

Q: If I fish on a private lake or on a pond or stream on my property, do I need a fishing license?

A: Yes. Unless you are the owner of a pond on an active farm, hold a farm fish pond license, or are an immediate family member of the owner or licensee, you must have a fishing license.

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 that I can’t cull fish during a bass tournament?

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

Q: The trout season is closed on my favorite stream; can I still fish for trout if I release all of the fish that I catch?

A: No. It is illegal to target a fish during its closed season.

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

A: Yes. A special catch-and-release season running from December 1 through the Friday preceding the third Saturday in June exists for many waters in New York State. This allows an angler to catch and immediately release a bass using artificial lures only. However, there are exceptions to this regulation on Long Island and in many northern New York counties in DEC regions 5 and 6.

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. Note that 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 five brook trout AND five rainbow trout in the same day.

Q: If DEC stocks fish in a stream, a portion of which is private, do I have the right to fish for these fish on private land?

A: No. Many stocked streams have both private and public segments. Although fish are typically stocked only in segments open to the public, the fish can swim into private sections. In these circumstances, unless DEC has purchased public fishing rights (PFR) from the landowner, you must ask permission of the landowner to legally fish on private land. PFR segments are posted with yellow signs.

Q: Do I have the right to fish a stream bordering a public road?

A: If the stream is on private land, you may not fish it. Although the stream may be bordered by a public road or road easement, the stream bottom can be privately owned. Therefore, you must ask permission of the landowner to legally fish the stream.

Q: How many rods or lines may I use when fishing?

A: Anglers are now permitted to use three lines when fishing.

Q: Is it legal to use the Alabama Rig or other multiple-bait rigs?

A: Yes. As long as the number of lures or baits does not exceed five and the total number of hook points on the rig does not exceed 15. However, some special regulations limit the number of lures, baits, attractors and hook points on specific waters.

Q: If I spend multiple days fishing in New York, may I transport more than the legal daily limit when I return to my home state?

A: You may transport twice the daily limit for fish such as trout, black bass and crappie that have a daily catch limit. There are exceptions for processed and packaged fish or when a permit has been obtained from a DEC regional office. However, live fish may not be transported in excess of the legal daily limit and may not be stocked into another waterbody.

Q: Can I use whole or parts of yellow perch or other sportfish as bait?

A: Yes, as long as the yellow perch or other sportfish are of legal size and were legally taken. Note that sportfish used for bait counts toward the daily limit you may possess.

Q: Can I use felt-soled waders in New York State?

A: Regulations do not prohibit the use of felt-soled waders and wading shoes in New York State. However, felt soles are difficult to clean and have been identified as a possible means by which whirling disease and the invasive algae didymo may be spread. Because non-felt alternatives are now readily available, we strongly recommend that anglers consider using them.

Q: Can I use lead fishing sinkers in New York State?

A: The sale of lead fishing sinkers weighing less than one-half ounce is prohibited in New York State. Although you may still use small lead sinkers, we strongly recommend that you switch to the various non-lead alternatives that are now readily available.

Q: Do I need a permit to conduct a bass tournament in New York State?

A: A permit is not necessary to conduct a bass tournament in New York. However, a temporary revocable permit is required to use a DEC boat launch or other state land for an organized purpose, such as a tournament weigh-in. A permit issued by the appropriate DEC regional office is required to possess fish in excess of the daily limit for tournaments holding fish prior to release or using release boats.

Q: Can I collect crayfish and use them for bait?

A: Yes. However, a fishing license is required to keep minnow species incidentally caught in a crayfish trap, and their take and use must be in accordance with DEC baitfish regulations.

Q: Do I need a fishing license to fish in the Hudson River?

A: If you are fishing for freshwater fish species such as largemouth or smallmouth bass and you are 16 years old or above, you must have a fishing license. If you are fishing for migratory marine species such as striped bass or in the marine waters south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, you do not need a fishing license, but you must enroll in the free Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. You can enroll in the registry through DEC’s automated licensing system at any vendor selling fishing licenses.




Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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