All motorboats used in public waters must be registered. For a copy of Indiana boating laws, write to DNR Division of Law Enforcement, 402 W. Washington St., Room W255D, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
On state-owned, leased or licensed lakes smaller than 300 acres, only electric motors may be used. No more than two 12-volt batteries can be used to power trolling motors on these waters.
A U.S. Coast Guard approved Type 1, 2, 3 or 5 wearable personal floatation device is required for each person in any boat. Boats 16 feet and longer, except for canoes or kayaks, must also have one USCG-approved throwable PFD on board. Lake Michigan, the Ohio River and boundary waters of the Wabash River have special regulations. Call the USCG at (219) 879-8371 for Lake Michigan, (502) 779-5400 for southern Indiana or see uscgboating.org for a copy of federal boating regulations.
You may want to consider using fishing sinkers that do not contain lead if you are concerned about your exposure to lead. Alternatives to lead sinkers are made out of steel, bismuth, tungsten and resin. Fish or wildlife health may be affected if they ingest lead or zinc sinkers.
Tagging and Marking
Anyone interested in marking or tagging fish in public water must get approval from the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) before marking or tagging occurs. An application, available from the DFW, must be processed 21 days before the scheduled start date. Contact the DFW for more information: (317) 232-4080.
Lake Webster Muskie
During the past three decades, Lake Webster has developed into one of the Midwest’s premier muskie fisheries. Since 1998, it also has provided brood fish for muskie stocking in other Indiana lakes.
Beginning in 2005 and each year since, muskies captured for brood stock were marked with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag, that, when scanned with a specially designed reader, displays a unique identification number for each fish. The PIT tag is embedded within the muscle of the fish. This coding allows biologists to track the age and growth of muskies over time and estimate the number of adult muskies in the lake.
Enlarged view of PIT tags.
More than 1,100 Webster Lake muskies have been tagged. These tags cannot be seen externally; they’re about the size of a hyphen (-), and are located internally, in the head of the fish, and pose no health threat if accidentally ingested.
Lake Michigan Trout and Salmon
Trout or salmon with a missing adipose fin contain a small micro wire tag in the head of the fish with important information the DNR needs for a study. Please save the head from your marked (adipose fin-clipped) trout and salmon and contact the Division of Fish and Wildlife (219) 874-6824 for instruction on drop-off locations.
Only trout and salmon with a missing adipose fin have micro tags.
There is no bag limit on catfish taken from streams and no bag limit on channel catfish taken from Turtle Creek Reservoir (Sullivan County). In all other lakes and reservoirs, the bag limit is 10 fish for any combination of flathead, blue or channel catfish.
Walleye and hybrid walleye taken from all waters in Indiana must be 14 inches in length or longer, except on the Ohio River where there are no minimum size limits.
The St. Joseph River (Elkhart and St. Joseph counties) has a special size limit. In cooperation with the State of Michigan, a 15-inch minimum size limit has been established for walleye taken from the St. Joseph River.
It is illegal to use the following devices to take fish from public waters: a weir, electric current, dynamite or other explosive, a firearm, hands alone, or any substance that may weaken or poison fish. Cast nets cannot be used to catch sport fish.
Anglers are responsible for maintaining fish in a healthy condition if they wish to return fish to the water. Dead and dying fish already kept cannot be released back into the water. However, sorting of fish may be allowed within the bag limit if fish are in healthy condition at the time of release. Fish must be released into the water from which they were taken and be able to swim away normally. At no time may anglers have more than a bag limit of fish in their possession while engaged in a day’s fishing. All fish in possession must meet legal size limits. For example, if you catch five largemouth bass (daily bag limit is five) and later that day catch a larger largemouth bass, it is legal to release any of the other fish in good condition in order to keep the larger one.
Minnows and crayfish may be collected any time through the year if you possess a valid sport fishing license. You must have a bait dealer’s license to sell minnows and crayfish or possess more than 500 minnows or crayfish. You cannot transport more than 100 crayfish across the state boundary in a 24-hour period unless you are commercially raising crayfish. You may use artificial lighting to take crayfish.
If you plan to catch your own minnows or crayfish, the following restrictions apply. See Ohio River section for special regulations for collecting minnows and crayfish on the Ohio River.
You may use wild fish as live bait as long as the fish was caught legally and meets any size, catch, or possession limits established for that species. Goldfish may be used as live bait.
At the bodies of water where live gizzard shad and threadfin shad can be used (see below), cast nets can have a maximum mesh size of 2 inches stretch mesh. Stretch mesh is the distance between two opposite knots of a net mesh when the net is stretched tight.
Carp cannot be used as live bait at any location. Live gizzard shad and threadfin shad may be collected, possessed and used as live bait on the following waters only but may not be transported live away from the location where collected:
Any unused shad must be killed prior to leaving these water bodies. Live gizzard shad or threadfin shad collected at other water bodies will need to be killed immediately upon capture and cannot be possessed live.
Live alewives may be collected, possessed and used on Lake Michigan only, and may not be transported away from Lake Michigan. Any unused alewives must be killed. You must immediately kill alewives collected from waters other than Lake Michigan.
All minnows purchased from bait shops or taken from public waters cannot be of any species considered threatened or endangered, and may not be live prohibited species (see Endangered Fish and Aquatic Invaders). Anglers collecting wild-caught minnows are encouraged to collect their bait from the water in which they will fish in order to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases.
Minnows should not be released into the water after you finish fishing. Emptying bait buckets can contaminate a body of water with undesirable fish. In addition, bait and bait buckets exposed to lake or stream water could get contaminated with zebra mussel larvae, fish pathogens or other aquatic invasive species. Anglers are encouraged to dispense of baitfish in the trash after each outing and buy new bait for the next outing. Fishing worms should be discarded in trash containers.
To determine the accurate length of a fish, measure a straight line from the tip of the jaw (mouth closed) to the tip of the compressed tail fin. Measure with mouth closed and tail compressed to determine total length.
Measure shovelnose sturgeon from nose to fork in tail fin to determine length.
Where to Fish
Looking for a place to fish? The DNR can get you there with Where to Fish, an online interactive map that provides a wealth of information on hundreds of public access sites in Indiana.The toolbar features a number of functions that allow you to search for locations by waterbody, county or DNR property; find driving directions; and print your findings. Clicking on a specific site provides additional information about motor restrictions, ADA accessibility, shoreline fishing opportunities, applicable fees, what species of fish are common, and the site’s latitude and longitude (great for GPS users!). Check it out.
Lake and Topo Maps
Improve your fishing success with lake depth contour maps.
DNR lake and topographical maps are inexpensive and easy to obtain. U.S. Geological Survey Maps show land contours, water, structures and vegetation.
Send your requests to:
DNR Customer Service Center
402 W. Washington St., W160
Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Call (317) 232-4200 for more info.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.