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Fishing Regulations

Fishing Regulations Indiana Freshwater Fishing

Indiana’s Statewide Size and Bag Limits


Daily Bag Limit

Minimum Size




Redear Sunfish3



Black Bass (in lakes)2

5 singly or in aggregate1

14 inches

Black Bass
(in rivers and streams)2

5 singly or in aggregate1
(no more than two over 15 inches)

12 to 15 inch slot limit 4

Black Bass (in Lake Michigan)2

3 singly or in aggregate1

14 inches

Yellow Bass



White Bass,
Hybrid Striped Bass

12 singly or in aggregate1, no more than two fish may exceed 17 inches


Striped Bass



Rock Bass






Walleye-Sauger Hybrid (Saugeye), Sauger

6 singly or in aggregate1

For Walleye: 14 inches south of SR 26, 16 inches north of SR 26 (exceptions on Pg. 11)

For sauger and saugeye: No size limit (exceptions on Pg. 11)

and Tiger Muskellunge

1 singly

36 inches8

Northern Pike


20 inches

Yellow Perch

None (15 only on Lake Michigan)


Catfish: Channel, Blue,
(in streams)


13 inches 5,6

Catfish: Channel, Blue,
(in lakes, reservoirs)

10 9

None 5,6




Lake Whitefish



Shovelnose Sturgeon


25 inches

Bag and Possession Limits

It is illegal to take more than the daily bag limit of a wild fish in a calendar day.

The possession limit is two times the daily bag limit.

The possession limit does not apply to a wild fish that is processed and stored at an individual’s primary residence.

It is illegal to carry, transport or ship outside Indiana, in open season, in one day, a wild fish that the individual has taken in open season in excess of the possession limit.

Illegal Stocking, Aquarium Release

It is illegal to take any live fish (native or non-native) and release it into any other public waters without a stocking permit. DNR fisheries biologists approve stocking of fish only after careful consideration of the potential impacts of new fish on the existing habitat and fish population. The release of fish from an aquarium would be considered the stocking of fish, and a permit is required to do so.

Hooks for Pole Fishing or Hand Lines

You may not fish with more than three poles or hand lines at any one time. Each line may have no more than three single or multi-pronged hooks, three artificial lures, or no more than three of a combination of hooks and artificial lures.

A multi-prong hook, or two or more single-prong hooks used to hold a single bait is considered one hook.

Single- or multi-barbed hooks may be used for hand or pole lines, float or jug fishing, limb, drop or trot lines. Special hook size and barb regulations apply to Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

Gaffs, Grab Hooks and Landing Nets

Landing nets, gaff hooks or grab hooks may be used only to assist in the landing of legally caught fish. They may not be used as the method of catching fish.


You may use no more than one snare to take suckers, carp, gar, and bowfin. Snaring these fish may be done only between sunrise and sunset.

Limb Lines

A limb line (or drop line) involves suspending a fishing line from a tree limb extending beyond the bank of a body of water. You may fish with no more than 10 limb lines or drop lines at any one time. Each line may have no more than one single- or multi-barbed hook attached to it. Each line must have a readable tag showing the name and address of the user, or the DNR-issued Customer ID number. All lines must be checked at least every 24 hours. It is illegal to use a limb or drop line within 300 yards of a partial or full dam structure located on any stream, river, ditch, canal, or reservoir.

Snagging Fish

Snagging is the practice of dragging or jerking a hook (or hooks), baited or unbaited, through the water with the intention of hooking a fish on contact. It is illegal to snag fish from public waters in Indiana, including the Ohio River. Trout and salmon that are foul-hooked — not caught in the mouth — must be released to the water and not kept.

Trot Lines

A trot line (also called a set line or throw line) is a fishing line with smaller lines attached to it that extends into the water from a fixed point, such as a boat dock or tree. You may fish with no more than one trot line at any one time. The trot line must have no more than 50 single- or multi-barbed hooks. Each drop line on a trot line may have only one hook. Trot lines must bear a readable tag showing the name and address of the user, or the DNR-issued Customer ID number. Trot lines must be checked at least once every 24 hours. It is illegal to use a trot line in Lake Michigan or within 300 yards of any partial or full dam structure located on any stream, river, ditch, canal, or reservoir.

Umbrella Rig

You may use an umbrella rig (sometimes referred to as an Alabama rig), but hooks or lures can be attached to only three arms. Any additional arms must be left empty or can be fitted with a spinner blade or other hookless attractor.

Float Fishing

Float or jug fishing is the use of any buoyed container (made of any material other than glass) that suspends a single fishing line and a single- or multi-barbed hook.

As many as five floats may be used but only one hook may be attached to each float line. Each float must be marked with the user’s name and address, or the DNR-issued Customer ID number. All lines must be in constant visual contact of the person using them. Float fishing is not allowed on lakes and reservoirs for public safety reasons.

Ice Fishing

When ice fishing, no more than three lines may be used at any one time. Each line may contain no more than three hooks (single, double or treble) or three artificial lures.

Holes cut for ice fishing cannot be more than 12 inches in diameter.

Tip-ups must be identified with the name and address of the user or the DNR-issued Customer ID number. Tip-ups must be in constant visual contact of the person using them.

Ice shanties or portable ice-fishing shelters must have the owner’s name and address or the DNR-issued Customer ID number in 3-inch block letters on the outside of the door. Between sunset and sunrise, any ice fishing shelter or portable shelter must have at least one red reflector or a 3-inch by 3-inch reflector strip on each side of the structure.

Ice shanties and portable shelters must be removed from public waters before ice-out. If used before Jan. 1 and after Feb. 15, all structures must be removed daily.

Freshwater Mussels

It is illegal to collect or take live mussels or dead mussel shells from public waters. A ban on harvesting shells has been in effect since 1991 to protect against a rapid decrease in the abundance and distribution of freshwater mussels. Please do not disturb living mussels.

Bow Fishing

A bow and arrow or crossbow can be used any time of day year-round to take Asian carp, bowfin, buffalo, common carp, gar, shad, and suckers from streams, rivers and non-flowing waters (including lakes, ponds, and reservoirs). A fishing license is required to use a bow and arrow or crossbow as fishing equipment.

Spear Fishing

A gig, fish spear, spear gun, or underwater spear can be used any time of day year-round to take Asian carp, bowfin, buffalo, common carp, gar, shad, and suckers from non-flowing waters (including lakes, ponds, and reservoirs) and the following large streams:

  • Kankakee River, upstream to the State Road 55 bridge
  • Maumee River, upstream to the Anthony Boulevard bridge in Fort Wayne
  • St. Joseph River, upstream from Twin Branch Dam in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties
  • Tippecanoe River, upstream to one-half mile below its confluence with Big Creek in Carroll County (Fish spears and fish gigs cannot be used in, on, or adjacent to Tippecanoe River from 1/2 mile below its juncture with Big Creek in Carroll County upstream to the Oakdale Dam.)
  • Wabash River, upstream to State Road 13 in Wabash
  • White River, upstream from the Wabash River to the junction of East and West forks
  • White River/East Fork, upstream to the dam at the south edge of Columbus
  • White River/West Fork, upstream to the dam below Harding Street in Indianapolis

Fishing Below Dams

State law does not allow the taking of fish by trotline, set line, throw line, net, trap, or seine (except legal minnow seines or dip nets) within 300 yards of a dam on an Indiana waterway or boundary water (which includes the Ohio River).

Wanton Waste

The intentional waste and destruction of fish is prohibited unless the fish is required by law to be killed. Fish must not be mutilated and returned to the water unless the fish is lawfully used as bait. Fish parts, including entrails, must not be discarded into any state waters but should be disposed of in a sanitary manner that does not pollute the water or become detrimental to public health or comfort.

Sale of Aquatic Life

No fish, frogs, turtles, or other reptile or amphibian taken under a fishing or hunting license may be bought, sold, or bartered. You may keep fish that you catch for an aquarium if that fish meets legal size and bag limit requirements.

If you give your catch away, it’s a good idea to provide the recipient a note identifying the fish you gave them. This avoids confusion with exceeding the daily bag limit or possessing fish without a fishing license.

Smelt Fishing

Smelt may be taken from Lake Michigan from March 1 through May 30. Smelt may be taken only with a single seine or net. The seine or net may not exceed 12 feet in length and 6 feet in depth, nor have a stretch mesh larger than 1½ inches. A dip net may not exceed 12 feet in diameter.

Endangered Fish

The following fish species are classified as endangered in Indiana: bantam sunfish, Hoosier cavefish (formerly northern cavefish), channel darter, gilt darter, greater redhorse, lake sturgeon, northern brook lamprey, pallid shiner, redside dace, and variegate darter.

It is illegal to take or possess these fish at any time. Most of these species are small and would not be caught while angling.

If captured during baitfish collection, immediately return them unharmed to the water in which they were found.

Species Illegal to Possess

The following fish and mussels are illegal to possess: Asiatic clam, bighead carp, black carp, silver carp, quagga mussel, round goby, rudd, ruffe, snakehead (of the family Channidae), stone moroko, tubenose goby, walking catfish (of the family Clariidae), Wels catfish, white perch (not freshwater drum), zander, and zebra mussel.

If any of these species are taken into possession, they must be killed immediately by either removing their head, removing gills from at least one side of the fish, or gutted. Your cooperation is essential.

Free Fishing Days

Indiana residents can enjoy four free
fishing days in 2017 without having to buy a fishing license — April 15, May 20, and June 3 and 4.

This year, take a friend along and introduce him or her to a new activity that could become a lifelong passion.

(All other fishing rules and regulations apply.)

See for more information.