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Fish Consumption

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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 safety 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 under age 6. 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.

There is added concern about this group eating commercial sources of fish. Even though this group may not eat wild-caught fish alone frequently enough to be concerned, combining such consumption with frequently eaten fish from commercial sources containing contaminants could pose a health risk. 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 Fish4Health.net.

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) 232-9264

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

1 meal per week

2

1 meal per week

1 meal per month

3

1 meal per month

Do not eat

4

1 meal every
2 months

Do not eat

5

Do not eat

Do not eat

*Women of childbearing years, pregnant and nursing mothers, and children under age 6.

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

*Women of childbearing years, nursing mothers, and children under age 15. Contact the ISDH for more detailed information on the commercial fish consumption advisory.

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

Brown Trout

28+

4

Channel Catfish

all

5

Common carp

all

5

Freshwater Drum

16+

4

Lake Trout

25–29

4

Lake Trout

29+

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

Stony Creek

Hamilton

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

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

Ohio River

All counties

Channel Catfish

18+

4

Little
Calumet River

Porter

Channel Catfish

All

4

Maumee River

Allen

Walleye

< 21

4

Walleye

21+

5

St. Joseph River

Allen

Black Crappie

11+

4

Rock Bass

9+

4

St. Marys River

Allen

Channel Catfish

15+

4

Largemouth Bass

15+

4

*Consult the fish consumption advisory for a complete listing.

Major Locations with Group 1 & 2 Fish GENERAL POPULATION ADVISORY

Lake

County

*Exceptions To Group 1,2

Brookville Lake

Franklin, Union

Common Carp 20+ in. (3),

Channel Catfish 20+ in. (3)

Walleye 23+ in. (3)

Adams Lake

LaGrange

Walleye 20+ in. (3)

Dewart Lake

Kosciusko

Northern Pike 30+ in. (3)

Griffy Lake

Monroe

Largemouth Bass 13+ in. (3)

Harden Reservoir

Parke

Common Carp (3)

Kokomo Reservoir

Howard

Common Carp 19+ in. (3)

Lake Lemon

Monroe

Flathead Catfish 20+ in. (3)

Lake Wawasee

Kosciusko

Bullhead 15+ in. (3)

Lake of the Woods

LaGrange

Common Carp 22+ (3)

Monroe Lake

Brown/Monroe

Walleye 21+ in. (3)

Morse Reservoir

Hamilton

Common Carp (3)

Patoka Lake

Dubois/Orange

Common Carp 19+ in. (3)

Salamonie Lake

Wabash

Common Carp (3)

Starve Hollow Lake

Jackson

Common Carp 25+ in. (3)

Turtle Creek Lake

Sullivan

Worster Lake

St. Joseph

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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