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Inland Sport Fishing Definitions

The following provisions are taken from the inland district sport fishing regulations, 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. Information on commercial fishing in the inland and marine districts is available on request.

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 Streams 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 my be used as bait.

Bait Species: The following species of fish, amphibians, aquatic insects and crustaceans may be taken by sport fisherman for personal use, but may only be sold if taken under an inland commercial bait license.

Bait Species: Common shiner, golden shiner, fallfish, creek chub, spottail shiner, bridle shiner, blacknose dace, longnose dace, pearl dace, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, cutlips minnow, chub sucker, white sucker, killifish, mummichog, Atlantic and tidewater silderside, sand lance, frogs (except northern leopard frog), crayfish, perch bugs, hellgrammites and mayfly nymphs.

The legal method 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 ft. long and 4 ft. deep, bait traps not over 20 inches long and 15 inches in diameter, and umbrella nets not over 4 ft. by 4 ft.
  • 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 ft. by 4 ft. 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.

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: Carp, suckers, eels and lampreys may be taken with a bow and arrow. These species may be taken by archery in lakes and ponds and in stream/sections not stocked with trout, and only taken during the open season for fishing in those waters. Use of crossbows is prohibited. A fishing license is required.

Cast Net: A net weighted at the edges which is cast out over bait to capture it in shallow water. The use of cast nets is prohibited in inland waters.

Children's Fishing Area: Angling in such areas is restricted to children under sixteen years of age.

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 angler during the period from 12:01 a.m. to midnight. Any species taken to the contrary must be returned immediately, without avoidable injury, to the waters from which it was taken.

Downrigger: A device, supplemental to a fishing line, used to deploy, via an electric or hand-powered 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. 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.

Leadcore Line: A fishing line constructed with a metal core.

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, bullheads, all species of catfish, and all species of sunfish.

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 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 the 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: Lengths 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, carp, suckers, eels, lampreys, menhaden, alewives and blueback (glut) herring may be taken by these methods.

Spearing: The use of any pointed instrument, with or without barbs, propelled solely by hand. Carp, eels, suckers and 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 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.

Trout: Include brook (charr), brown, lake, and rainbow trout and their hybrids.

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Content last updated March 2020