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Recreational Fishing

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Fishing Licenses: See License Requirements for information.

  • Licenses are required for hook and line fishing, castnetting, seining, crabbing, gigging, sport bait trawling, and harvesting shellfish.
  • A Georgia Fishing license is required for anglers returning to Georgia ports or transiting Georgia waters with recreational catches from federal waters beyond the state’s 3-mile territorial sea.
  • Reciprocal agreements with Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida currently do not apply to saltwaters.
  • Georgia saltwater fishing guides have the option of purchasing a blanket fishing license to cover their customers. Anglers booking a trip with a Georgia saltwater fishing guide should inquire if they will need a Georgia fishing license or whether they will be covered by the guide’s license. Persons interested in purchasing a Saltwater Guides License should call the DNR Coastal Regional License Office at 912-264-7237.

New for 2013

  • FREE Saltwater Information Program endorsement is required when fishing in saltwater (see below)
  • One-day saltwater shore-based fishing license available. $5 for resident or non-resident.
  • Southern kingfish (Whiting) no longer regulated.

Saltwater Fishing Information

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Regulations

For information and updates on licenses, regulations, and fishing in Georgia’s inshore and offshore saltwaters contact:

Georgia DNR Coastal Law Enforcement

One Conservation Way, Suite 201

Brunswick, GA 31520-8687

912-264-7237 or fax 912-262-3166

Coastal Resources Division

Marine Fisheries Section
One Conservation Way,

Brunswick, GA 31520-8687

912-264-7218 or fax 912-262-2318

Federal Saltwater Fishing Regulations

For information and updates on recreational fishing regulations in federal waters (3–200 miles offshore), contact:

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

4055 Faber Place Dr., Suite 201

North Charleston, SC 29405

843-571-4366 or 866-SAFMC-10


For information and updates on federal regulations and required permitting for tunas, billfish, and sharks, contact:

National Marine Fisheries Service

HMS Management Division

1315 East-West Hwy

Silver Spring, MD 20910



For information on the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary contact:

Gray’s Reef Sanctuary Program

10 Ocean Science Circle

Savannah, GA 31411



Wanton Waste

Sort or cull your catch on the water. Return undersized or unwanted wildlife to the water alive. When you throw away wildlife, you are not only wasting valuable resources, but you are also breaking the law!

Artificial Reefs

Georgia maintains 15 inshore and 22 offshore artificial reefs located from inside the estuary to 80 miles offshore. The 19 reefs beyond 3 miles offshore are designated as federal Special Management Zones and as such, only allow hand-held hook-n-line and spear fishing gear. For more information, coordinates and updates go to

Boating Safety Zones

Boating safety zones have been established off Jekyll, Tybee, St. Simons, and Sea islands. These zones extend from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of each of these islands and from the highwater mark to a distance 1,000 feet seaward. From May 1 through September 30, power boats, jet skis, and other motorized craft are prohibited in these zones.

Saltwater Finfish

Landing Requirements/Transfer Prohibition

All saltwater finfish (including sharks) under state or federal regulation must be landed with head and fins intact. Anglers must make catches available for inspection by government officials. Saltwater finfish subject to size and bag limits cannot be transferred to another person or vessel on the water. Commercial licenses are required to sell recreationally caught finfish.


A seine may not be used as a gill net (a net constructed of single webbing attached to a float line and lead line and fished in a stationary manner to ensnare or entangle fish in the meshes).

Only flounder may be taken with a gig (any handheld shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless).

All seasons, hours, creel limits, minimum size limits, and other regulations applicable to saltwater finfish apply regardless of the gear used.

Sharks: Recreational harvest of sharks is limited to hook and line gear only.

Related Definitions

Maximum Size: the specific size in length above which it is unlawful to take that finfish species.

Minimum Size: the specific size in length below which it is unlawful to take that finfish species.

Open Season: that specified period of time during which one may take certain finfish species from any waters of the state.

Daily Creel Limit: the lawful amount of a species of finfish that a person may take in one day.

Possession Limit: the lawful amount of a species of finfish that a person can legally have at any one time.

Bushel: 32 quarts.

Saltwater Demarcation Line

This line is established in this state as the separation point between saltwaters and freshwaters for commercial fishing and sport fishing. The saltwater demarcation line is defined below:

  • The point at which U.S. Highway 17 crosses the following bodies of water and their tributaries shall be the line of demarcation for them: St. Mary’s River, Satilla River, South Altamaha River, Champney River, Butler River, Darien River, Little Ogeechee System (except Salt Creek), North Newport River, Medway River, Big Ogeechee River, and the point at which Georgia Highway 25/South Carolina 170 crosses the Savannah River and its tributaries. All water seaward of these points shall be considered saltwater.
  • The following streams and their tributaries are designated as salt water for their entire length: Crooked River, Little Satilla River, South Brunswick River, Turtle River, Sapelo River, South Newport River, Salt Creek (Little Ogeechee System), and all other rivers, streams, and tributaries in the six coastal counties which are not enumerated in this subsection.
  • For purposes of crabbing, that portion of the St. Mary’s River and the Satilla River System (including the Satilla River and White Oak Creek) which is seaward of the points at which the Seaboard Coastline Railroad crosses such streams and that portion of the Altamaha River System which is seaward of the points at which I-95 crosses the streams of that system shall be considered salt water. It shall be unlawful to place any crab trap in the waters of this state other than that described as salt water in Code Section 27-4-1 or by this subsection.

Frequently asked questions about the Georgia Saltwater Information Program (SIP) Permit

Q. What’s this all about?

A. The Saltwater Information Program (SIP) permit is part of a nationwide effort to collect contact information annually for everyone who fishes recreationally in saltwater. Doing so will help state and federal fishing effort surveyors improve their ability to contact anglers periodically and ask them questions about their fishing activities. This information is the backbone of good saltwater fishery management.

Having an accurate Georgia “phone book” of all recreational saltwater anglers will provide a better picture of how many people go fishing and what they catch. This will result in a better understanding of the impact of recreational fishing on fish populations, and will lead to better fishery management decisions to create and maintain sustainable saltwater fisheries. It will also allow us to document the importance of saltwater recreational fishing so that services like boat ramps and fishing piers are provided and maintained.

Q. I already have a Georgia saltwater fishing license. Why do I need this permit?

A. There is only one type of saltwater fishing license in Georgia and that’s a 1-day license for fishing from shore in the saltwaters of the state. The SIP permit is automatically included when purchasing this 1-day license. All other short-term or annual Georgia fishing licenses cover both freshwater and saltwater and will require you to obtain the SIP permit when recreationally fishing in saltwater. Plus, tens of thousands of Georgians have lifetime, senior, honorary or other long-term licenses that are not renewed each year. Without their contact information, there is no way to do more than make an educated guess how often they go fishing and how many fish they catch. That’s a problem. Bottom line: The SIP permit will help us to ensure fish are out there to catch when you, your children or grandchildren go saltwater fishing. Besides, this free permit exempts all Georgia anglers from having to register with the federal government through something known as the National Saltwater Angler Registry, and pay a federal registration charge every year.

Q. How much does the SIP permit cost?

A. The SIP permit is free, whether you add it to an existing license or include it in the purchase of a new license.

Q. Isn’t this going to cost DNR money that won’t be available to spend on other fishery management activities like hatcheries, boat ramps, and such?

A. The company that manages the Georgia hunting and fishing license system is not charging the state any extra to administer the SIP permit process. The one-time cost of updating the computer programming of the license system to include the SIP permit was paid by a grant from NOAA Fisheries.

Q. Will the SIP permit be available like other hunting and fishing licenses?

A. You bet. We want this to be as easy and user friendly as possible. Your SIP permit is available through any license vendor currently selling hunting and fishing licenses in person, by telephone or internet. Please make sure you provide an accurate email address, if you have one. Then we can send you an automatic email reminder every year when it is time for you to renew your license and SIP permit. If you renew early, you will receive a “renewal discount” and be charged $2.75 less for your new license and SIP permit.

Q. What does my SIP permit look like?

A. When you get a SIP permit you will receive an updated print out that adds the SIP permit to all your other valid licenses so you only have to carry one piece of paper. If you have a lifetime, senior or other long-term license, you will need to carry that along with the documentation of your SIP permit.

Q. I’m a senior citizen and have a senior license. What does any of this have to do with me?

A. Even if you have a senior license you still need to obtain a SIP permit if you plan to fish in saltwater. We need contact information from all saltwater anglers over the age of 16 to ensure that our survey results are accurate.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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