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Fish Consumption

Fishing Regulations Indiana Freshwater Fishing

Is it Safe to Eat Your Fish?

Eating recreationally caught fish from Indiana waters can be healthy and tasty when you have the proper information. The following section should alleviate most anglers’ concerns about eating wild-caught fish.

It’s all about a person’s exposure to contaminants over time. The two contaminants that drive the fish consumption advisory are mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Both contaminants are generally persistent in the environment at low enough levels they do not pose a health risk from direct contact with the water. However, both contaminants accumulate in fish tissue. The contaminants accumulate in human tissue like they do in fish and can build to levels that could pose a health threat.

The consumption advisory is based on a model that people are consuming 8 oz. of fish on 225 days each year over 70 years. A determination can then be made from concentrations of contaminants in fish tested as to how frequently they can be safely eaten (note the fish consumption advisory groups).

The consumption recommendation groups range from 1 to 5 with 1 being unlimited consumption and 5 being do not eat. Most anglers do not eat wild-caught fish nearly this frequently. As a result, if they are aware of the contaminant levels that likely are in the fish they catch, they should have little concern about eating them.

The primary concern is the sensitive population. This population comprises women of childbearing years, nursing and pregnant mothers, and children age 17 and younger. The reason for extra concern is evidence of developmental problems in babies and young children from contaminants at levels lower than what can be safely eaten by male adults and women who cannot become pregnant. The advisory reflects this concern.

However, it is also important for this population to obtain the nutrients from eating the right fish during this time period. Combining consumption of wild-caught fish with frequently eaten commercial sources of fish containing contaminants could pose a health risk. Making the best choices in both sources of fish can help women and children obtain the benefits from fish while avoiding the health risks. Note the commercial fish consumption table for the at-risk group and for people that frequently consume commercial fish.

Eating fish from lakes and reservoirs is generally less of a concern. Contaminant levels are generally very low in lakes and reservoirs (note major group 1 and 2 fishing waters table). Also note the table containing all of the sampled lakes and reservoirs in Indiana that had species of fish in groups 4 and 5.

Eating fish from rivers and streams is generally a much higher concern. Most water bodies carrying do-not-eat consumption advisories for all species are streams. The fish consumption advisory has an extensive list of rivers and streams that have species with group 4 and 5 consumption advisories; however, many streams contain species with low levels of contaminants. Several of the major fished rivers that have some group 4 and 5 species are listed. Many of these rivers and streams contain some very good catch-and-release fisheries.

Consult the Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory for much more detailed information at https://secure.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm.

For more information on the fish consumption advisory or answers to questions concerning the advisory, contact:

Indiana State Department of Health

Division of Environmental Public Health

100 N. Senate Ave., Room N855

Indianapolis, IN 46204

(317) 233-9264

Guidelines to Reduce Your Risk

  • Assume that any fish you catch is a group 2 if the site in which you caught it is not listed or the site where you are fishing is not listed in the advisory.
  • Eat smaller, less fatty fish like panfish (bluegill, perch and crappie).
  • Remove fat near the skin of the fish before cooking and broil, bake, or grill fish so the fat drips away.
  • Unless noted otherwise, consider all carp from rivers and streams to fall under these groups: Group 3, 15-20 in.; Group 4, 20-25 in.; Group 5, over 25 in.

Wild fish consumption

Advisory groups

Group

General
Population

Sensitive
Population
Advisory*

1

Unlimited
consumption

Unlimited
consumption

2

1 meal per week

1 meal per week

3

1 meal per month

1 meal per month

4

1 meal every
2 months

Do not eat

5

Do not eat

Do not eat

Commercial Fish Consumption Advisory

Species

General Population

Sensitive Population
Advisory*

Fresh or canned salmon; shellfish like shrimp, clams, crab, scallops and oysters; tilapia; herring; canned “light” tuna; sardines; pollock; cod; farm-raised catfish; flounder; farm-raised rainbow trout; haddock; squid; whitefish

Unlimited consumption

1 meal per week

Canned albacore “white” tuna (6 oz.), freshwater perch, grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi and lobster

1 meal per week

1 meal per month

Shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackeral, orange roughy, Spanish mackeral, marlin, Chilean sea bass, walleye (Great Lakes, Canada), fresh and frozen tuna

1 meal per month

Do not eat

State Lakes with Group 4 & 5 Species
general population advisory

(sensitive population should not consume)

Lake

County

Species

Size (inches)

Group

Center Lake

Kosciusko

Black Bullhead

14+

4

Geist Reservoir

Hamilton/Marion

Channel Catfish

27+

4

Henderson Lake

Noble

Bluegill

6+

4

Hovey Lake

Posey

Channel Catfish

19+

4

Smallmouth Buffalo

19+

4

White Bass

12+

4

J. Edward Roush Lake

Huntington

Channel Catfish

28+

4

Lake Freeman

White

River Carpsucker

17+

4

Lake James

Steuben

Northern Pike

36+

4

Lake Michigan

Lake/LaPorte/Porter

Black Crappie

8+

4

Channel Catfish

all

5

Common carp

all

5

Freshwater Drum

16+

4

Lake Trout

27+

5

Largemouth Bass

7+

4

Northern Pike

14+

4

Silver Redhorse

< 25

4

Silver Redhorse

25+

5

Walleye

21+

4

White Sucker

23+

4

Lake Shafer

White

River Carpsucker

17+

4

Marquette Lagoon/east & middle basins

Lake

Bluegill

7+

4

Palestine Lake

Kosciusko

Largemouth Bass

15+

4

Pike Lake

Kosciusko

Largemouth Bass

13+

4

Sylvan Lake

Noble

Common carp

28+

4

Winona Lake

Kosciusko

Common carp

26+

4

White Bass

16+

4

Wolf Lake

Lake

Largemouth Bass

17+

4

All State Waters Carrying
Do-Not-Eat Advisories for All Species

Water

County

Clear Creek

Monroe

Elliot Ditch

Tippecanoe

Grand Calumet River/Indiana Harbor Canal

Lake

Kokomo Creek

Howard — from U.S. 31 to Wildcat Creek

Little Mississinewa River

Randolph

Little Sugar Creek/Walnut Fork

Montgomery

Marquette Lagoon/west basin

Lake

Pleasant Run Creek

Lawrence

Salt Creek downstream of Clear Creek

Lawrence/Monroe

Wea Creek

Tippecanoe

Wildcat Creek

Howard/Carroll— downstream from the Waterworks Dam in Kokomo to the Tippecanoe County line

Major Rivers with Group 4 & 5 Species
general population advisory

(sensitive population should not consume)

River

County

Species

Size (inches)

Group

Little
Calumet River

Porter

Channel Catfish

All

4

Maumee River

Allen

Walleye

< 21

4

Walleye

21+

5

Rock Bass

8+

4

Ohio River

All counties

Channel Catfish

18+

4

St. Joseph River

Allen

Black Crappie

11+

4

Rock Bass

9+

4

St. Marys River

Allen

Channel Catfish

15+

4

Largemouth Bass

15+

4

Wabash River

Knox/Sullivan/Vigo

Striped Bass

12+

4

Wiper

12+

4

West Fork White River

Randolph

Channel Catfish

16+

4

Marion
(downstream of Broad Ripple dam)
/Morgan

Channel Catfish

20+

4

Flathead Catfish

15+

4

STATEWIDE SAFE EATING GUIDELINES

Recommendations when a waterbody has not been sampled for a particular species. Fish at or below the size listed should be safe for consumption once per week. The Sensitive Population includes women of childbearing years, pregnant and nursing mothers, and children age 17 and younger.

Fish Species

Sensitive Population

General Population

Largemouth Bass

< 13″

All

Rock Bass

< 8

All

Smallmouth Bass

< 12″

All

Spotted Bass

< 10″

All

White, Striped, Hybrid Striped Bass

< 18″

< 33″

Buffalo

< 19″

All

Channel Catfish

< 23″

All

Flathead Catfish

< 18″

All

Crappie

All

All

Freshwater Drum

< 14″

All

Northern Pike

< 20″

< 41″

Redhorse

< 22″

All

Sunfish

All

All

Sauger

< 12″

All

Walleye

< 19″

< 25″