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General Regulations

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Freshwater Game Species Daily Limits

  • It is unlawful to take in one day or to possess at any one time, except at a residence or commercial storage facility, more than the daily limit for each species. It is unlawful to possess more than a total of 50 individuals of all the game fish listed in this section, except channel and flathead catfish.
  • Once the daily limit for a particular species is taken, it is unlawful to continue to fish for that species.

Exception: Daily limits differ on certain waters shared by Georgia and South Carolina. See Agreements with Bordering States.

Seasons

There is no closed season for fishing in freshwater in Georgia except for the following:

  • Trout Season: Trout streams that are designated as seasonal trout streams are OPEN to fishing for any species from March 31–October 31, 2012 and from March 30–October 31, 2013. Seasonal trout streams are CLOSED to fishing for all fish species at all other times. See trout stream designations.
  • Flint, Chattahoochee and Spring Creeks: The Flint River and its tributaries from the Georgia Power Co. dams at Albany to the US Hwy 84 bridge; the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries from the Columbia Lock and Dam to the GA Hwy 91 bridge; and Spring Creek and its tributaries downstream to GA Hwy 253 are CLOSED to striped bass fishing and spear fishing from May 1–October 31 each year.
  • Lakes Seminole and Blackshear: All fishing, including spear fishing, for any species in the marked areas around five fish refuges in Lake Seminole and in three fish refuges in Lake Blackshear is prohibited from May 1–October 31 each year.
  • Coosa River: The season for taking lake sturgeon from the Coosa River and its tributaries is CLOSED. See www.gofishgeorgia.com for more information on this closure and how to identify this fish.
  • Noodling or Grabbling: The season is open March 1–July 15 statewide in freshwater.

Angler Awards Program

Catching a big fish is always a thrill and usually requires exceptional fishing skill. Each year DNR recognizes the achievement of anglers who catch “trophy” fish by presenting them with an Angler Award. Fish do not have to be a new state record to qualify. Applications, minimum weights/lengths for species, and full program details are available at any Fisheries office and at www.gofishgeorgia.com. To qualify you must:

  • Catch your fish on legal sport fishing tackle in Georgia (see Fishing Methods).
  • Meet the minimum weight or length requirements for that species.
  • Take the fish to a DNR Fisheries Office and have it positively identified. A clear side view photo of the fish can now be used for identification in the case of “catch-and-release.” Please call before coming to an office to make sure that someone will be available to identify your fish (see Contact Information & Offices).
  • Complete application and submit it with a clear side view photo of the whole fish to the address listed on the form.

If you think you, or someone you know, caught a new state freshwater record, follow these steps:

  • Do not clean or freeze the fish.
  • Keep the fish cool, preferably on ice.
  • Weigh the fish to the nearest ounce as soon as possible on scales certified accurate by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (at Fisheries Section offices and businesses that sell products by weight) in the presence of two witnesses over the age of 18. Witnesses cannot be members of the immediate family. Estimated weights are not accepted.
  • Take the fish to a DNR Fisheries Office as soon as possible and have it positively identified by a DNR fisheries biologist or technician. Please call the office before you come (see Contact Information & Offices).
  • Complete an application and submit with a clear side view photo of the whole fish within 90 days of the catch.
  • Freshwater Records
  • Saltwater Records

Length Limits

Note: There are no minimum length limits on freshwater game fish unless they are listed below. All lengths are Total Length (see How to Measure Fish). You must release all fish shorter than the minimum length indicated for that species.

Largemouth Bass

12 inches statewide except:

  • Bear Creek Reservoir (Jackson County): bass between 16 and 22 inches must be released immediately. All others may be kept.
  • Lake Blackshear: 14 inches
  • Lake Blue Ridge: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Burton: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Juliette: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches
  • Lake Oconee: bass between 11 and 14 inches must be released immediately. All others may be kept.
  • Ocmulgee River from the Spring Street bridge crossing in Macon downstream to the confluence of the Ocmulgee River and the Oconee River: 14 inches
  • Lake Walter F. George: 14 inches
  • West Point Reservoir: 14 inches
  • Public Fishing Area lakes operated by the Department of Natural Resources: 14 inches. This limit will not apply to lakes which have been posted as having a different length limit for largemouth bass.

Shoal bass

  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches
  • Flint River and its tributaries: 12 inches

Spotted bass

  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches

Striped bass, White bass, & Hybrid white-striped bass

You may only keep two fish of the total limit that are 22 inches or longer, except:

  • The minimum length for all fish is 22 inches on the North Newport River, Medway River including Mount Hope Creek, Little Ogeechee River, Ogeechee River; Oconee River downstream of GA Hwy 22 in Milledgeville; Ocmulgee River downstream of GA Hwy 96 bridge between Houston and Twiggs counties; Altamaha River, Saint Mary’s River, Satilla River, and the tributaries to these river sections; and from saltwater.
  • The minimum length is 27 inches on the Savannah River and its tributaries downstream of J. Strom Thurmond Dam (2 fish limit).
  • See agreement with South Carolina

Trout

No minimum length limit for trout except:

  • Waters Creek:
  • Brown and rainbow trout: 22 inches
  • Brook trout: 18 inches
  • Noontootla Creek and its tributaries on Blue Ridge WMA
  • All trout: 16 inches

Fishing Gear Must Be Regularly Checked

  • Attend to gear such as limb lines. (All trotlines must be checked at least every 24 hours and removed after the fishing trip.)
  • Make every reasonable effort to retrieve lost gear (including hooks, line and lead sinkers).
  • Recycle used fishing line.
  • For more information, contact: Fisheries Section – (770) 918-6406

Creel and Possession Note to Anglers

Creel and possession limits are per person. For Conservation Rangers to correctly determine compliance with these limits, each individual should keep trout or other fish on separate stringers or in separate creels. It is unlawful for one individual to possess more than the legal limit of any fish species.

 

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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Conservation Partner Advertisements: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with Georgia Department of Natural Resources Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC & eRegulations.com, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/eRegulations.com directly at 413-884-1001,
This is not the full law. Consult theGeorgia Department of Natural Resources for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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