Fishing Licenses: See License Requirements for information on license requirements.
- 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.
- A free Saltwater Information program (SIP) permit is required for anyone age 16 and over who fishes in saltwater. Beginning January 1, 2020 all new SIP Permits will expire one year from the date of issuance. SIP Permits obtained prior to January 1, 2020 will expire on the last day of February.
- 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 Guide’s License should call the DNR Coastal Regional License Office at 912-264-7237.
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
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 912-262-3143
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
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!
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 CoastalGaDNR.org/ArtificialReefsMarineHabitat.
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.
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. A commercial license is required to sell any seafood.
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.
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 that a person can legally have at one time.
Bushel: 9.3 gallons or approximately 37 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.
Harmful toxins called PCBs are stored in the hepatopancreas (“the green gland” also known as the mustard, tomalley, or liver) found in the body section of blue crabs.
Recent studies have shown that crabs in the Middle Turtle River and Purvis and Gibson Creeks contain high levels of PCBs. While the crab meat may still be eaten in recommended amounts, the hepatopancreas should not be eaten because of the high PCB levels.
If crabs are cooked whole, the juice should not be consumed. Because PCBs are transferred to cooking liquid, crab cooking liquid should also be discarded.
Cleaning crabs before you cook them (“backing” the crabs and rinsing out the guts and the gills) reduces the risk of consuming PCBs.