It is hard to believe but somehow we have arrived at the very last weekend of spring turkey season, and what an interesting season it has been.
Heavy rain, accumulating snow, freezing temperatures, excessive wind and transitioning to downright muggy, almost tropical conditions. We have truly experienced it all this year!
After a rather slow start early on for myself and anyone whom I was guiding, I was able to take two 3-year-old, very mature gobblers in the time frame of the past week. It seems as though the action is really beginning to heat up, and mature longbeards are somehow or another just coming out of the darn woodwork! The overall hunter pressure has also seemed to drop a little from earlier on, as well. If you haven’t filled that last turkey tag, it may be a wise decision to give it one last shot for the year.
CHANGES TO BASS REGULATIONS
Smallmouth and largemouth bass are generally managed under a statewide minimum size limit of 12 inches during the harvest season. However, there are a number of rivers and streams throughout the state where they are managed under a 10-inch minimum size limit.
This special regulation was established to allow harvest of bass from populations that are generally believed to not grow as large as their lake and pond counterparts. From 2013-17, bass populations in 10 rivers with the 10-inch minimum size regulation were sampled using boat electrofishing, angling, or both. Smallmouth bass populations were assessed for size structure, growth, and longevity. These metrics were compared with averages from inland river and lake populations with the 12-inch minimum size limit to determine if there were differences in size, age and growth.
Size structures and growth were highly variable among study rivers, but the average values for these metrics were similar to averages for statewide regulation rivers and lakes. Rivers with the 10-inch minimum size limit had a lower proportion of older (greater than age 5) smallmouth bass than statewide rivers and lakes, an indication that longevity is likely less in these rivers. Shorter lifespans in these rivers should result in a smaller proportion of larger bass (greater than 14 inches), but this was only weakly reflected in the size structure indices.
All 10 study rivers had smallmouth bass greater than 12 inches, including seven rivers where more than 20% of the adult population was greater than 12 inches. This suggests that smallmouth bass can obtain sufficient sizes in adequate numbers to provide opportunities for angler harvest under the statewide regulation in these rivers.
The results of this study and general bass harvest patterns across the state suggest that there is little benefit to maintaining the special 10-inch minimum size limit regulation in rivers and streams. Elimination of this regulation and replacing it with the statewide minimum size limit should not affect angler opportunity and will simplify the current suite of black bass fishing regulations.
The fishing season for muskellunge opens today across much of the state. In New York’s Great Lakes waters (Lake Erie, Upper Niagara River, Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River), the season opens on June 20.
Now do not get your muskies confused. Tiger muskies (a cross between a true muskellunge and a northern pike) opened the first Saturday in May, along with northern pike and chain pickerel. Please note that a true Musky must be 40 inches to keep, and the limit is only one per day. The size limit for Tiger Muskie is 30 inches and also one per day.
PROPOSED TRAPPING SEASON CHANGES
DEC is proposing changes to the current beaver, mink and muskrat trapping seasons. The proposed changes would expand beaver trapping opportunities in central and western New York and would align the start dates of mink and muskrat trapping seasons with beaver trapping seasons throughout the state.
Specifically, this proposed rule would modify six NYCRR Parts 6.1 and 6.2 to:
- Move the start date of the beaver season in western New York from November 25 to November 10, providing two additional weeks of trapping opportunity.
- Extend the closing date of beaver trapping in central and western New York to April 7, providing additional trapping opportunity after ice out and aligning the end date with the rest of the Southern Zone and with trapper season date preferences.
- Shift the start date for mink and muskrat trapping in the Northern Zone from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 to better align with trapper season date preferences and to align Northern Zone mink and muskrat trapping with the beaver season.
- Shift the start date for mink and muskrat in central and western New York from Nov. 25 to Nov. 10. This will align the start date of the season throughout the Southern Zone and with the start of beaver trapping season.
Modifying the season dates for these species will allow DEC to improve management of species like beaver and to better address our goal of meeting the public desire for sustainable use of these resources. With the number of nuisance beaver complaints received by DEC increasing steadily each year, particularly in central and western New York, the proposed changes will allow DEC to minimize the damage and other problems caused by beavers. In addition, the proposed changes will better align trapping seasons with preferred season dates as indicated by a survey of licensed trappers.
To view the proposed rules and/or provide comment, please visit DEC’s website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.