The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing changes to black bass (smallmouth and largemouth bass) fishing regulations to make these regulations easier to understand while continuing to successfully manage these species for future angler enjoyment. DEC is accepting public comment on the proposed elimination of “any size” and 10-inch minimum size limit regulations for black bass from many rivers throughout the state, as well as Lake Colby in Franklin County, Moose Pond in Essex County, and Lake Champlain. The proposal replaces these unnecessary special size limits with the statewide 12-inch-minimum black bass size limit.

“DEC is continuing our efforts to eliminate special fishing regulations that do not serve a species management purpose,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Today’s announcement encourages increased fishing participation by streamlining the State’s black bass fishing regulations and making them easier to follow without impacting fishing opportunity.”

Some rivers and streams in New York are currently managed under a 10-inch minimum size limit regulation to allow harvest of black bass populations generally believed to not grow as large as their lake and pond counterparts. However, a recent Black Bass 10-inch Minimum Size Limit Evaluation (PDF) study found no differences in the size structures or growth of smallmouth bass in rivers managed under this regulation and those from rivers and lakes managed under the statewide 12-inch minimum size limit. Smallmouth bass were the focus of the evaluation because they are more prevalent in rivers and streams than largemouth bass. There is no need to maintain the reduced minimum size limit in these rivers.

Lake Champlain is recognized as one of the best black bass lakes in the country and DEC found no justification to continue to regulate it with a minimum size limit less restrictive than the statewide 12-inch minimum size limit. “Any size” regulations for black bass in Lake Colby (Franklin County), Moose Pond (Essex County), Catatonk Creek (Tioga County), and Fall Creek (Tompkins County) are also considered unnecessary.

The regulatory proposal is available on the DEC website for review and public comment. Comments on the proposal 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; subject line “Black Bass Regulations.” Comments will be accepted through Jan. 23, 2021.