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Outdoors Notebook: DEC notice now allows fish photos

Two weeks ago a Department of Environmental Conservation notice referred to taking photos of fish as a “ticketable offense.” Late last week the DEC issued this notice:

“DEC does not ticket anglers for taking photographs of fish. However, DEC urges everyone – anglers, researchers and others – to respect DEC’s regulation that fish caught out of season and endangered or threatened species inadvertently caught be returned to the water immediately to protect New York’s natural resources.”

Regional and national blog sites were critical of the new regulation included in the April 1 issue of the “New York Freshwater Fishing 2015-16 Official Regulations Guide.” As with out-of-season game kills posted on the Internet, photos of out-of-season fish species could have led to violations issued to persons cited in the photo. 

Most confusing in this issue is the catch-and-release areas for bass and the Lake Erie special trophy season, which allows anglers to fish for, and keep, bass measuring more than 20 inches in Lake Erie and its tributaries from the first Saturday in May to the Friday before the third Saturday in June.

That means that this year anglers can catch and release smaller smallmouth bass until the statewide season opens on June 20.

DEC fishery biologists note that delays in returning out-of-season fish could affect their survival. In general, it would be best to handle fish carefully while unhooking fish and carefully return – not throw back – fish not kept or fish species that are not yet in season for keeping.

Evans honored

The NYS Outdoors Writers Association presented its prestigious M. Paul Keesler Outdoor Citizen Award to Fred Evans, 86, of Portville, retired DEC Region 9 Wildlife biologist.

The Keesler Award is given to an individual who has raised public awareness of outdoor recreational opportunities and conservation issues in New York State. Evans, a specialist in wild turkey management, continues to assist in turkey programs and presentations around Western New York.

Airgun shooting on rise

Target shooters entering competitions or just out to do some plinking and aiming practice have shown a trend toward airgun shooting to avoid the hassles, difficulties and expenses of .22-caliber ammunition.

All major airgun manufacturers now produce firearms with the accuracy and killing power needed to hunt small game; some models are designed for big-game hunting.

A recent survey of 4,500 shooters on ShooterSurvey.com showed 40 percent of respondents now shoot air rifles, a number up from 33 percent one year ago. The increase is attributed to a lack of available ammo.  

Shortage of .22 caliber rounds and increased prices for bulk purchases are major factors. Airgun pellets in all popular calibers are readily available and considerably cheaper than the .17 and .22 caliber rounds so often used on target ranges and for small-game hunting.

One nearby example is the expanded numbers of competitors drawn to Crosman All-American Field Target Championship that will be held at Rochester Brooks Gun Club in Rush June 13-14.

This kind of event draws shooters from across the country, many of whom previously entered conventional firearms matches and championships. For more details on the Crosman event, visit crosman.com/connect/crosman-field-target-championship.

email: odrswill@gmail.com