Taking & Possession of Fish
Possession and Daily Limits
- A person may not have in possession, or intentionally kill or injure, fish other than the sizes specifed and allowed for that species on a given water. Any fish in a vehicle used to access a given water counts towards the number and sizes of fish in possession.
- A person may not possess, kill, or unnecessarily injure fish in excess of the daily limit for that species.
- Any fish an angler catches and immediately releases uninjured will not be counted as part of the daily limit for that species.
- A person may continue to fish for a species while in possession of a daily limit for that species provided all fish of that species subsequently caught are immediately returned to the water. See below for special provisions made for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
- A single, uninjured largemouth bass or smallmouth bass that an angler is landing, measuring, or in the process of releasing from a recirculating or aerated livewell is not considered to be part of the daily limit.
Catch and Release
- Catch and release angling is only permitted during the open season for a particular fish species.
- Measuring, weighing, and photographing the fish are permitted as long as the fish is not removed from the water for an extended period or handled in a manner that could cause harm.
- Fish may not be placed in a bucket, tub, livewell, on a string or any other holding device.
- Catch and release angling for endangered or threatened fish species is prohibited.
Closed Season Restriction
A person may not fish for a species (even if immediately released) during the closed season for that species on a given water. Fish caught during the closed season must be unhooked and released immediately. They may not be handled for any other purpose.
Endangered and Threatened Fish
It is illegal to fish for, or possess fish that are officially listed by DEC as endangered or threatened:
- Endangered: silver chub, bluebreast darter, deepwater sculpin, gilt darter, pugnose shiner, round whitefish, shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, and spoonhead sculpin.
- Threatened: eastern sand darter, lake chubsucker, lake sturgeon, northern (longear) sunfish, mooneye, gravel chub, banded sunfish, longhead darter, swamp darter, spotted darter, and mud sunfish.
Any unintentionally caught threatened or endangered fish species must be unhooked and released immediately. They may not be handled for any purpose other than removing the hook and placing them back into the water.
All foul-hooked trout, lake trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, pink salmon, and Atlantic salmon must be released without unnecessary injury to the fish.
Any snakehead caught while angling cannot be released back into the water. They must be immediately killed and reported to DEC.
Use of Gaffs
Use or possession of gaffs or gaff hooks is prohibited when fishing in freshwater, including the Hudson River upstream of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, except when ice fishing or while bowfishing.