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Fly-Fishing: Fishing regulations clean up rulebook

Fly-Fishing: Fishing regulations clean up rulebook

Nine Mile Creek in central New York, the “other” Salmon River, and the North Branch of the Saranac w

Nine Mile Creek in central New York, the “other” Salmon River, and the North Branch of the Saranac will get new no-kill sections, and the Hoosic and Little Hoosic rivers in Rensselaer County would lose their minimum size, under proposed trout fishing regulations announced this week by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The new regs would add some year-round trout fishing and plenty of changes for other fish species. They also do away with some rather odd provisions that have cluttered up the DEC rulebook over the years.

The Hoosic and Little Hoosic are wild trout streams — neither is stocked by the DEC — and are prized by many Capital Region trout fishers. There’s a nine-inch minimum size in place now, but the DEC says there’s no longer any reason for it.

“This regulation was more necessary in an age when anglers didn’t have the same catch and release ethic as is common today,” the DEC said, explaining the proposed change. “Survey results from 1997 and 1992 show a good size structure and catch rate of both rainbows and brown trout. Elimination of this regulation will not likely result in over-harvest of the resource to the point where recruitment will be significantly reduced. A minimum size limit is no longer desirable.”

Not to be confused with the Lake Ontario tributary of the same name, the Salmon River in Franklin County is a great Adirondack trout stream. The DEC says anglers have been asking for a no-kill section, and recommends establishing one, about 2.2 miles long.

“This productive trout fishery currently produces good numbers of large trout, and DEC staff believe that a catch-and-release regulation will retain or enhance the abundance of large trout the river has become known for,” the agency said.

On the North Branch of the Saranac, new easements have greatly increased public access, so the DEC recommends expanding the catch-and-release section from one mile to five.

Nine Mile Creek, near Syracuse, is a popular fishery with plenty of trout, both stocked and wild. When I was there recently, I heard anglers express their wish for a no-kill section.

Now, they’re on their way to getting one — and to make it even better, the section in question is all private property that’s at present off-limits to fishing.

“Because access to this area never existed in the past, implementing a ‘No-kill’ regulation on this section will essentially satisfy the desires of a portion of the local trout fishing community without taking away harvest opportunity from the rest of the angling public,” the DEC said.

The regulatory package would add a number of streams and counties to the “5/2” rule in place in much of western and central New York.

The general statewide daily creel limit is five trout of any size. The 5/2 rule says only two of the day’s catch may be longer than 12 inches. It seems odd to have a maximum size, rather than the more common minimum, but the idea is to give more anglers a shot at the large 2-year-old stocked fish.

Of course, it takes a little pressure off large wild trout, too.

Some of the proposed regs amount to walking away from good ideas that didn’t work out, or eliminating current regulations made obsolete by natural events or changed public policy.

In Jennings Park Pond in Long Lake, Hamilton County, for example, there’s a three-trout limit, instituted when the DEC used to stock the lake with big 2-year-old browns for a fishing derby.

That stocking no longer occurs — and even if it did, trout stocked today would find themselves among tough competition.

“The pond was flooded by rising water during [Tropical Storm] Irene, and is now filled with pike, perch, bass and other non-trout species,” the DEC said.

And then there’s the proposal to drop the special regulation allowing year-round trout fishing — yes, trout fishing — on the Hudson River in Saratoga County.

“This section of the Hudson River is warmwater, with only an occasional trout that has wandered in from upstream,” the DEC said, noting that “the regulation may mislead anglers into expecting trout in this section.”

Finalized proposals will be released this fall and public comments will be accepted then, the agency said, but you can provide “feedback” on the proposals now. The complete list of regulation changes can be found at dec.-ny.gov/outdoor/91959.html.

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