The following provisions are taken from the official regulations for sport fishing within the inland district as published by the Secretary of State, and do not apply to taking fish from licensed commercial hatcheries, private waters legally registered with DEEP, or to commercial fishing in the inland district. Additional information regarding commercial fishing in the inland and marine districts can be accessed on our commercial fishing webpage.
ANGLING Fishing with hook and line, which must be personally attended. No more than three lines, with or without rods, may be used at one time, except in the designated Trout Management Areas, Wild Trout Management Areas, Trout Parks, Sea-run Trout Streams, and Trophy Trout Areas where the maximum number of lines that can be used is two, with or without rods.
BAIT Any animal or vegetable, or their parts, living or dead, used with a hook for the purpose of attracting and catching fish. Any fish legally acquired, except largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, trout, salmon, carp and goldfish may be used as bait.
BAIT FISHING Means taking or attempting to take bait species, for personal use as bait or food, by use of a bait seine, bait trap, umbrella net, scoop net or by hand.
BAIT SEINE means a seine or net which, for the purpose of this regulation, does not exceed fifteen feet in length and four feet in depth and is used for the taking of bait species.
BAIT TRAP means a glass, wire or wooden device which does not exceed twenty inches in length and fifteen inches in diameter and is used for the taking of bait species.
BAIT SPECIES The following species of fish, amphibians, aquatic insects and crustaceans may be taken by sport fishermen for personal use (a recreational fishing license is required), but may only be sold if taken under an inland commercial bait license.
- Bait species: Common shiner, golden shiner, fallfish, creek chub, spottail shiner, blacknose dace, longnose dace, pearl dace, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, cutlips minnow, chub sucker, white sucker, killifish, mummichog, Atlantic and tidewater silverside, sand lance, frogs (except northern leopard frog), crayfish (except rusty crayfish), perch bugs, hellgrammites and mayfly nymphs.
- The legal methods for taking the bait species listed above are as follows:
- Rivers and streams: Bait species may be taken at any time with seines not over 15 feet long and 4 feet deep, bait traps not over 20 inches long and 15 inches in diameter, and umbrella nets not over 4 feet by 4 feet.
- Lakes and ponds: Bait species may be taken at any time with bait traps not over 20 inches long and 15 inches in diameter and umbrella nets not over 4 feet. by 4 feet Seines shall not be used in lakes and ponds except those designated by the DEEP as open to commercial taking of bait. Where posted, taking, use or possession of fish as bait is prohibited in lakes and ponds.
- All inland waters: During the open season for fishing, the species listed above may also be taken by hand, angling and scoop net.
- Use of a Cast Net in the inland district is prohibited.
BARBLESS HOOK A curved, pointed device, without a barb, used to catch fish. Barbless hooks may be single, double or treble, and each point must be without a barb. For the purposes of this regulation, hooks manufactured with a barb are considered barbless if the barb has been bent down to the hook, broken off or otherwise made ineffective.
BOBBING Fishing with a ball or mass of worms or other bait attached to a hookless line held in the hand or a line attached to a rod held in the hand.
BOW AND ARROW FISHING Fishing by use of a compound bow, long bow, recurved bow or crossbow by which an arrow is propelled. Arrows shall have barbed heads and be attached to the bow, or to a fishing reel attached to the bow. Any fish taken by bow and arrow shall be part of the possession limit of the individual taking such fish and shall not be released to the waters where taken.
Common carp, bowfin, tench, white suckers, American eels and sea lampreys may be taken with a bow and arrow. These species may be taken by archery in streams and stream sections not stocked with trout, and in lakes and ponds, and only taken during the open season for fishing in those waters. Use of crossbows is prohibited. A fishing license is required.
BUBBLE FLOAT A type of float that is attached to a fishing line or leader and can be filled with water to adjust its buoyancy.
CHILDREN’S FISHING AREA Angling in such areas is restricted to children under sixteen years of age when posted as such.
CLOSED SEASON That period of time during which all fishing is prohibited in the area specified.
DAILY CREEL LIMIT The quantity or number of fish of a species or species group that can be taken by an individual during the period from 12:01 a.m. to midnight.
DOWNRIGGER A device, supplemental to a fishing line, used to deploy, via an electric or handpowered winch, reel or spool that projects over the side or stern of a boat and is used as a hoist, main line and terminal weight, one or more fishing lines to a desired depth in the water column.
FISHHOOK or HOOK A curved, pointed device, with or without barb, used to catch fish. Hooks may be single, double or treble and each point shall be considered as a single hook.
FISHING OR SPORT FISHING Taking or attempting to take fish. In the inland district, fishing is limited to angling, bow and arrow fishing, bobbing, ice fishing, snagging or snatching, spearing, scoop netting, and taking or attempting to take fish by hand.
FLOAT (BOBBER) Any buoyant object attached to a fishing line. No floats may be used unless personally attended.
FLY A single or double hook dressed with hair, feathers, tinsel, thread, yarn or similar material to which no bait, spinner, spoon, plug or other device is added.
FLY FISHING Angling with the use of a fly reel, fly rod, fly line, leader and a fly or flies. Extra weight may be built into the fly in its construction, as in a weighted nymph, and additional weight may be attached to the leader or line. “Tenkara” fishing is considered to be fly-fishing. The use of strike indicators is permitted.
GAFF A spear or hook, with or without a handle, used for holding or lifting fish. The use of a gaff to land or assist in landing a fish is prohibited in the inland district.
HAND-HELD JIG A rod, jig stick or line held in the hand used for fishing through the ice.
ICE FISHING Not more than six tip-ups, floats (bobbers), similar devices, or hand-held jigs or any combination thereof not exceeding six in the aggregate may be used at one time. Not more than three baited hooks, with or without attractors, or three ice flies, or three artificial lures, or any combination thereof not exceeding three in the aggregate may be used with each tip-up, float (bobber), or similar device or hand-held jig. Devices must be personally attended. The name and address of the user must be legibly stamped on or attached to all devices.
INLAND DISTRICT Is the area inland of the demarcation lines as listed on Marine/Inland Demarcation.
LEADCORE LINE A fishing line constructed with a metal core.
MAXIMUM LENGTH Measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. No person shall possess any fish greater than the lengths specified and any fish greater than the maximum length, shall, without avoidable injury, be immediately returned to the water from which taken.
MINIMUM LENGTH Measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. No person shall possess any fish less than the lengths specified and any fish less than the minimum length, shall, without avoidable injury, be immediately returned to the water from which taken.
PANFISH Includes yellow perch, white perch, calico bass, rock bass, and all species of sunfish.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FISHING AREA Means an area set aside for the exclusive use by persons with physical disabilities when such restriction is indicated by posters.
POSSESSION LIMIT The total number of fish of any species or species group that may be possessed by one person either on the person, on the waters of the state, the shores of these waters, or in any type of vehicle and may not exceed the creel limits for one day, as listed in this pamphlet. Fish so possessed shall be intact to the extent that neither the heads nor tails have been removed. Note that this does not restrict the number of legally acquired fish that may be kept in storage at home.
SCOOP NET A manually operated, flexible mesh net attached to a hoop which is attached to a handle. The hoop may not be over 36 inches across at the widest point and the mesh bag may not be more than 36 inches in depth at its deepest point. The use of any such net constructed of metal mesh or stiff plastic mesh is prohibited.
SEINE NET A net weighted at the bottom, with top floats, that is used to encircle fish.
SET LINE A line with one or both ends secured to the shore, or to a fixed or buoyant object in the water which is used for fishing and is not personally attended. Use of set lines in the inland district is prohibited.
SLOT LENGTHS Length limits designated to reduce or increase the taking of fish by anglers.
- Protected slot lengths: Lengths between which fish may not be kept by anglers.
- Open slot lengths: Lengths between which fish may be kept by anglers.
SNAGGING or SNATCHING The taking of fish by foul hooking, that is hooking fish in any part of the body other than the mouth. Snagging is prohibited in all waters in the Inland District except that, in streams open to fishing throughout the year, menhaden, alewives and blueback (glut) herring may be taken by these methods. Anglers are reminded that there currently is an emergency ban on the taking of anadromous alewife and blueback herring (see Broodstock Atlantic Salmon and River Herring).
SPEARING The use of any pointed instrument, with or without barbs, propelled solely by hand. Common carp, bowfin, tench, American eels, white suckers and sea lampreys may be taken by spearing in streams or sections of streams not stocked with trout during the open seasons for fishing in such waters. Prohibited in lakes and ponds. Underwater spear fishing and the use of any type of spear gun is prohibited in all waters within the Inland District.
STRIKE INDICATOR Means a brightly colored, highly visible tab, sleeve or bead or similar material used in fly fishing. Such devices may be attached to the line or leader when used in areas restricted to fly fishing only.
TAKE or TAKING Killing, capturing or otherwise rendering into possession, any fish or bait species, or attempting to kill, capture or rendering into possession, or assisting in taking or attempting to take any fish or bait species.
TENKARA FISHING Angling with the use of a tenkara rod, tenkara line and a fly or flies, without the use of a reel of any type.
Please contact the Fisheries Division with any questions.
Content last updated July 2021