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Recreational Fishing

Fishing Regulations Georgia Freshwater Fishing

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.
  • 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
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
www.CoastalGADNR.org

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
www.safmc.net

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
301-713-2347
www.nmfspermits.com

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

Gray’s Reef Sanctuary Program
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah, GA 31411
912-598-2345
www.graysreef.nos.noaa.gov

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 georgiaoutdoormap.com.

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.

Gear

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: 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.