The Department of Natural Resources has reclassified trout streams with differing gear restrictions into a single “gear restricted” category.

The new category – the major first change in the DNR’s stream classification system that was adopted a decade ago – will allow for more flexible fishing regulations on the streams that have been classified as Type 5, 6 and 7 streams in the past. No immediate regulation changes have been proposed for specific streams.

“Combining the Type 5, 6 and 7 streams into one category simplifies our regulatory framework and creates flexibility for protecting trout populations while allowing diverse fishing opportunities,” explained DNR Fisheries Division Chief Kelley Smith. “With this change, we’re ready to work with trout anglers to review appropriate regulations for specific streams.”

State law allows up to 212 miles of gear-restricted streams statewide.

Anglers who wish to comment on appropriate regulations or to nominate additional waters for the Gear Restricted Category can forward their comments online to through Feb. 12.

The DNR’s Coldwater Regulations Steering Committee will review all comments and make proposals available for public comment before making any regulations changes. DNRE recommendations are expected to be sent to the DNRE director this fall for implementation on April 1, 2011.