New York State’s Sunfish and Crappie Fishing Proposed Regulations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a proposal to improve sunfish and crappie fishing in New York. The proposal includes changes to the daily catch limit of sunfish, minimum size limit for crappie, and special regulations on select waters across the state as part of an experimental program to create fishing opportunities for larger sunfish.

“To ensure quality sunfish and crappie fishing, DEC is proposing regulatory changes to benefit anglers in search of a good catch while continuing the restoration of the state’s natural resources,” Commissioner Seggos said. “New York is home to a wide variety of fishing opportunities and our goal is to increase these opportunities for anglers while bolstering local economies.”

The proposed statewide regulations are modest adjustments that reflect DEC and anglers’ recognition that more conservative harvest regulations are needed to ensure conservation safeguards for these resources. The use of social media to quickly draw attention to high quality fishing opportunities and the widespread use of electronic fish finders and other devices to improve fishing efficiency have amplified concerns about overharvest. These proposals were included in the Draft Sunfish and Crappie Management Plan DEC released for public comment earlier this year. The decision to advance these proposals was based on the largely positive feedback DEC received on the plan. Visit the Sunfish and Crappie Management webpage for the assessment of public comments on the draft plan, the Big Panfish Initiative Study Plan, and the rationale for the statewide regulatory proposals.

The proposed sunfish regulations associated with the five-year experimental program are intended to take advantage of the capacity of select lakes that may afford greater growth rates. Using minimum length restrictions and reduced daily limits, fishery managers can better develop populations with a greater proportion of older, larger fish. The experiment is proposed to run from 2022 – 2025 and will be applied to only 11 lakes. A decision on whether to continue this management strategy will depend on an evaluation of the results and feedback from the angling public.

The proposals include:

Reducing the sunfish statewide daily harvest limit from 50 to 25;
Increasing the crappie statewide minimum size limit from nine to 10 inches; and
Implementing an eight-inch minimum size limit and a daily harvest limit of 15 for sunfish in the following waters chosen for their potential to grow larger sunfish: Blydenburgh Lake (Suffolk County, DEC Region 1); Lake Welch (Rockland County, Region 3); Canadarago and Goodyear lakes (Otsego County, Region 4); Saratoga Lake (Saratoga County, Region 5); Sixtown Pond and Red Lake (Jefferson County, Region 6); Cazenovia Lake (Madison County, Region 7); Otisco Lake (Onondaga County, Region 7); Honeoye Lake (Ontario County, Region 8); and Silver Lake (Wyoming County, Region 9).

The regulatory proposals are available on DEC’s website for review and public comment. Comments on the proposals should be submitted via e-mail to regulations.fish@dec.ny.gov or via mail to the Inland Fisheries Section, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753, with the subject line “Sunfish and Crappie Regulations.” Comments will be accepted through Dec. 26, 2021.