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Bass Season Proposal for 2006

The following is a great explanation of the new NYS bass regulations proposal as written by Will Elliott. Elliot's article appeared in the May 22 2005 Buffalo News.


   Update .....Update ......   PROPOSED BASS SEASON CHANGES UPDATED 7/26/05

NYS Proposed Bass Season Changes: The proposal by the state is to allow for an open season from December 1 to the third Saturday in June, and will be catch and release only. The early Lake Erie trophy season will be eliminated. Do you agree? Disagree? ~ Vote in our Mini-Poll!


FISHING Changes to bass calendar provoke debate By WILL ELLIOTT


Bass anglers have had an early season bonanza since 1994, the first year of a special, trophy-only season on Lake Erie waters. Under state regulations, fishermen can keep one bass measuring at least 15 inches taken from open waters of Lake Erie, excluding tributaries, from the first Saturday of May until the statewide season opener on the third Saturday of June.

All that will change if Department of Environmental Conservation proposed changes being considered become law when licenses are renewed Oct. 1, 2006.

"Proposed changes have not been placed on the DEC Web site until after they are officially submitted for public comment on and after July 2," said Don Einhouse, senior aquatic biologist at the Lake Erie Unit in Dunkirk.

Einhouse has been traveling to fishing- and hunting-related club and federation meetings throughout Western New York to explain these changes and seek input on opening a year-round bass season statewide.

The regular bass season would remain the same: third Saturday in June to Nov. 30. The remaining period would be open to bass fishing on a catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only basis.

The State of Lake Erie program at Big Tree Fire Hall on May 11 was the most recent public gathering at which Einhouse could discuss Lake Erie's bass fishery and get a read on public acceptance of proposed regulations.

"It was a packed house, and most anglers there were receptive of the changes," he said.

In the discussion after his presentation, a sustained bass population in Lake Erie since the introduction of a special early season in 1994 and expanded opportunities to fish for bass were mentioned as contributing factors.

The State of the Lake program generally attracts anglers who focus more on catching Erie's popular food fish, perch and walleye. But smallmouth bass have emerged as New York State's most popular sport fish, according to DEC sources.

A statewide open season "represents little risk to the bass resource," DEC studies suggest.

Nearby states have specialized bass regulations. In Pennsylvania, bass anglers can fish statewide in a catch-and-immediate-release program with no harvest and with no tournaments permitted from April 16 until the start of the regular season on June 17.

In Ohio, bass season had been open year-round until two years ago, when a catch-and-release season was imposed during the spawning period. Ohio Investigations Officer Mike Tetzlaf at the Sandusky office said, "Bass anglers pretty much police themselves when it comes to fishing around spawning areas. They know what they're doing and try to stay away from areas where spawning activity takes place."

Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey do not have a closed season for bass fishing.

Area bass anglers vary in their view of an offseason, catch-and-release statewide period. Rick Kazmierczak, an active bass competitor, looks for anything that will open bass seasons and promote catch-and-release as much as possible on Lake Erie and inland. Tim Braun, who briefly held the state smallmouth bass record, has opposed catch-and-keep for weigh-in contests prior to the regular-season opener.

Don Staszczyk, vice president of Millennium Bassmasters and tournament director with the Niagara Frontier Chapter, opposes ending the one-bass creel limit and 15-inch length limit during an early season on Lake Erie.

He also sees catch-and-release on all inland lakes as a potential problem.

"I can take you to spawning sites in shallow waters of inland lakes where competitors can key on small areas and be devastating to these spawning bass," Staszczyk said.

"There's no reason to stop tournaments in May," he said, pointing to a 95 percent survival rate of bass returned after weigh-ins during contests in May. "It's later in the season, when waters warm and tourney operators don't release fish properly, that survival rates go down.

"Ideally, if the state wants to protect bass from gobies eating eggs in bass spawning beds, a catch-and-release program would be better in June during the spawning period for bass in this area, specifically June 13-18."

Bob and Diane Goodman coordinate all contests for the Avon Anglers bass tourneys held throughout the western Finger Lakes from spring until late fall. The Goodmans welcomed a special catch-and-release season on selected western Finger Lakes three seasons ago.

"We now can fish throughout the spring, and we have a contest just about every weekend," Bob said during a recent Crappie and Bluegill Tourney on Honeoye Lake.

Avon Anglers and other inland bass clubs and individual fishermen enjoy the opportunity to get out and fish for bass when spring conditions allow access.

Check the DEC Web site www.dec.state.ny.us after July 2 for the final form of proposed regulations changes and how to comment on those changes.