Basic Fishing Information
Indiana Freshwater Fishing
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 or go to boat-ed.com/indiana/handbook.
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 wearable flotation device (PFD) is required for each person on 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 Indiana-Illinois 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 lead-free fishing sinkers if you are concerned about your exposure to lead. Alternative sinkers are made 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 DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) before marking or tagging occurs.
An application, available from DFW, must be processed 21 days before the scheduled start date. Call (317) 232-4080 for more information.
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 information important to DNR research. Please save the head from your marked (adipose fin-clipped) trout and salmon and call the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (219) 874-6824 for instructions on drop-off locations.
Only trout and salmon with a missing adipose fin have micro tags. The adipose fin is along the fish’s spine between the dorsal fin and caudal (tail) fin.
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.
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. At no time may anglers have more than a bag limit in their possession while engaged in a day’s fishing. However, sorting of fish may be allowed within the bag limit if fish are in healthy condition at the time of release. For example, if you catch five largemouth bass (daily bag limit is five) and catch a bigger largemouth bass later that day, it is legal to release any of the other fish in good condition in order to keep the larger one. Fish must be released into the water from which they were taken and be able to swim away normally. All fish in possession must meet legal size limits.
A person cannot gift fish taken under a sportfishing license to another person knowingly or intentionally for the purpose of stocking a private lake for which customers pay for the opportunity to fish.
Holding Baskets, Live Boxes, Live Nets, Etc.
A fish-holding basket, live box, live net, or any other structure in which fish or other aquatic life are contained or held and left unattended must be plainly labeled with the name and address of the owner. This does not include live wells or other devices that hang over the side of a boat or are located within the boat.
Minnows and crayfish may be collected any time through the year if you have a valid sport fishing license. Minnows and crayfish collected from public waters cannot be sold.
“Minnow” is defined as a species of the minnow family Cyprinidae, except for exotic species identified in 312 IAC 9-6-7 and endangered species identified in 312 IAC 9-6-9, as well as sucker, brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans), gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and alewife. Live gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and alewife may only be collected, used, possessed, and disposed of in accordance with 312 IAC 9-6-8.
You cannot transport more than 100 crayfish across the state line 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 rules apply. (See Ohio River Regulations for special minnow and crayfish collecting regulations on the Ohio River.)
- Seines cannot be larger than 12 feet in length and 4 feet deep with mesh no larger than ½ inch stretch. (Stretch is the distance between two opposite knots of a net mesh when the net is stretched tight.)
- Minnow dip nets cannot exceed 3 feet square, without sides or walls, and may not have mesh larger than ½ inch stretch.
- Minnow traps cannot exceed 24 inches in length, with the opening of the trap no larger than 2 inches in diameter. Traps for crayfish also must comply with these requirements.
- Cast nets may be used, provided the net is no larger than 20 feet in diameter and the mesh stretch is no larger than ¾ inch.
Do not release minnows 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.
Wild fish may be used 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.
Carp cannot be used as live bait at any location.
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.
Gizzard shad and threadfin shad can be collected and used as live bait on the following waters but may not be transported live away from the location where collected: Brookville, Cecil M. Harden, Freeman, Hardy, Monroe, Patoka, and Shafer lakes, and the Ohio River mainstream (excluding all embayments).
Cast nets with a maximum mesh size of 2 inches stretch can be used to collect live gizzard shad and threadfin shad at these bodies of water.
Live gizzard shad or threadfin shad collected from the tailwaters of a lake or collected from other water bodies must be killed immediately upon capture and cannot be possessed alive.
Hooks on EF White River
Hook restrictions are in place from March 15 through April 20 on the East Fork White River from Williams Dam to the Huron and Williams Road bridge in Lawrence County.
During that time, you cannot fish with more than one single hook per line or one artificial lure. Single hooks, including those on artificial lures, shall not exceed one-half (1/2) inch from point to shank. Double and treble hooks on artificial lures shall not exceed three-eighths (3/8) inch from point to shank.
Walleye taken from all public waters (lakes, rivers and streams) north of State Road 26 must be 16 inches in length or longer, except for:
- Bass Lake (Starke County) and Wolf Lake (Lake County); minimum size 14 inches
- Lake George (Steuben County); minimum size 15 inches
- Wall Lake (LaGrange County); minimum size 16 inches with a daily bag limit of two
Walleye taken from public waters (lakes, rivers and streams) south of State Road 26 must be 14 inches or longer, except:
- The Ohio River, where there is no minimum size
There is no minimum size requirement for saugeye on all state waters, except for Huntingburg Lake (Dubois County) and Sullivan Lake (Sullivan County), where saugeye must be 14 inches in length or longer.
Except for the Ohio River, sauger are added to the aggregate bag limit for walleye and saugeye.
Special Regulation Waters
On Fidler Pond in Elkhart County, Failing Lake (also known as Gentian Lake) in Steuben County, and Flat Fork Creek Park ponds A and B in Hamilton County, a person cannot take more than:
- 5 channel catfish per day.
- 2 largemouth bass per day, and the largemouth bass must be at least 18 inches long.
- 15 of any combination of bluegill, redear sunfish, and crappie per day.
How To Measure Your Fish
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.