Georgia Freshwater Fishing
Hook & Line
- There is no restriction on the number of poles and lines used to fish for game fish except:
- Fishing for trout in designated trout waters: 1 pole
- Fishing on Public Fishing Areas: 2 poles
- Sport shad fishing: 2 poles
- Anglers using more than two poles and lines to fish for shad must abide by commercial shad regulations.
- Landing nets may be used to land fish legally caught.
- Game fish may be used as live bait (where live bait is legal) if they are taken legally and you do not exceed daily creel and possession limits.
- A sport trotline is one line or a combination of lines using less than 51 hooks. Sport trotlines must be:
- Marked with the owner’s name and address and with visible buoys
- Submerged at least three feet below the surface of the water
- Attended regularly and removed after the completed fishing trip.
- Unmarked or unattended trotlines will be confiscated by DNR. It is unlawful to use any sport trotline within one-half mile below any lock or dam.
- Only catfish and nongame fish (year-round) and American and Hickory shad during shad season may be taken with trotlines.
- Trotlines are not permitted on Lake Tobesofkee or any State Park Lake.
- Use of 51 or more hooks is considered Commercial Fishing (see Commercial Fishing & Sale of Fish).
Set Hooks & Jugs
- Only catfish and nongame fish (year round) and American and Hickory shad during shad season may be taken with set hooks and jugs.
- It is illegal to use jugs and set hooks on Lake Tobesofkee or any State Park Lake.
- A sport fishing license is required to fish with set hooks and jugs in Georgia.
- There are no other restrictions on the use of set hooks and jugs (number of, dimensions, materials, etc.)
- DNR encourages anglers using these methods to check them regularly, remove them at the end of the fishing day, and avoid areas popular with recreational boaters.
- “Spearing” is the use of a handheld spear or similar device and the use of a weapon, other than a firearm, which propels the spear to which a wire, rope, line, etc. is attached and secured to the weapon or the person using the weapon.
- Only nongame fish, and catfish as described below, may be speared in freshwater and are not to be sold or used for commercial purposes.
- The taking of flathead and channel catfish by spear may be done any time day or at night by light in the Savannah River and its tributaries and impoundments in the Savannah River Basin only.
- All spears must have barbs or other devices to recover fish and must be attached to a line secured to the person using the weapon.
- A sport fishing license is required to spear fish in Georgia.
- The person spearing fish must be completely submerged.
Note: See Seasons on General Regulations.
Seines, Cast Nets, Bow Nets
- Only nongame fish less than 5 inches in length may be taken using a minnow seine and are not to be sold or used for commercial purposes.
- All other fish and eels taken in minnow seines must be released immediately unharmed into the water.
- A minnow seine must be less than 20 feet in length and have a 3⁄8 inch or less mesh (square or diameter).
- Minnow seines may not be used in designated trout waters.
- Minnow traps are illegal in freshwater.
- Dip nets and cast nets may be used to take threadfin shad, gizzard shad, and blueback herring for bait except cast nets may not be used in State Park Lakes.
- Bow nets are considered sport shad fishing gear and shall have a minimum legal size of 3½ inches stretched mesh.
Nongame fish (does not include channel or flathead catfish, see note below) may be taken by bow and arrow from freshwater under the following conditions:
- Possession of a sport fishing license is required to bow fish in Georgia.
- Arrows must be equipped with barbs or similar devices for recovering fish and must be attached to the person or bow by a line sufficient for recovering the arrow and fish.
- Poisonous or exploding arrowheads are illegal.
- Arrows cannot be discharged into the water closer than 150 feet to anyone engaged in any other means of recreation.
- Legal hours for fishing with bow and arrow are from sunrise to sunset, except that fish (nongame) may be taken at night while using a light in reservoirs over 500 acres in size.
- Any game fish with an open wound possessed by a person bow fishing will be considered evidence of taking fish illegally.
- Note: Channel and flathead catfish are game fish, and may not be taken by bow and arrow, except in the Savannah River and its tributaries and impoundments in the Savannah River basin by bow and arrow any time during the day or at night by the use of a light.
- Flathead, channel and blue catfish may be taken by hand, without the aid of any device, hook, snare, net or other artificial element and without the use of any scuba equipment, air hose or other artificial breathing apparatus.
- Noodling is legal in the fresh waters of the state from March 1–July 15 each year.
- A sport fishing license is required to noodle in Georgia.
- It is illegal to take game fish (other than the catfish species listed above) or any other species of fish by hand.
- It is not legal to alter any natural or man-made features in order to attract or capture fish by hand. It is not legal to raise any part of a natural or artificial device out of the water to aid in the hand capture of enclosed fish.
In Georgia It Is Unlawful To:
- Possess or use live blueback herring for bait in all fresh waters except the following: Lakes Bartlett’s Ferry, Blue Ridge, Chatuge, Goat Rock, Juliette, Lanier, Nottely, Oliver, and West Point; and the Altamaha River watershed downstream of the following: Juliette dam on the Ocmulgee River, Lake Juliette dam on Rum Creek, Lake Tobesofkee dam on Tobesofkee Creek, Lake Sinclair dam on the Oconee River; and watersheds of all other streams that flow directly into the Atlantic Ocean (this drainage includes Lakes Hartwell, Russell, Clarks Hill, Burton, Tugaloo, and Raburn). For maps of restricted waters go to www.gofishgeorgia.com and see “Freshwater Regulations” section.
- It is unlawful to possess and fish with live blueback herring in Alabama waters.
- Fish for game fish, except American shad, hickory shad, channel catfish, blue catfish, or flathead catfish, by any means other than pole and line.
- Take any fish from public freshwater by any method other than the methods listed on this page. Snagging fish is illegal.
- Use electronic devices, explosives, poisons, or firearms to take fish.
- Stock or release fish or bait into any public waters except the water from which it was taken.
- Discard fish caught in public waters.