Saltwater Fishing Methods & Taking
There are many ways to catch fish and other aquatic species in Louisiana’s beautiful coastal waters. The headings below define the legal methods and illegal methods of take, plus certain exceptions that are allowed by species, methods and locations.
Always check with an LDWF Enforcement Office if you have questions.
Some species of gamefish may not be taken with the gear listed below.
- Hook and Line
- Trolling Line
- Bait Casting
- Recreational Crawfish Traps (must be marked with a waterproof tag, provided by the fisherman, with the name and recreational gear license number of the fisherman legibly printed on the tag, and must have a minimum mesh size of a hexagon of 3/4 by 11/16 of 1 inch from wire to wire not including any coating on the wire)
- Standard Spearing Equipment (used by a skin diver sport fishing in saltwater or freshwater when submerged in the water)
- Barbless Spear or Multi-pronged Barbed Gig (may be used in saltwater for taking flounder ONLY)
- Yo-yos or Trigger Devices
- Bow and Arrow
- Dip Nets
- Fly Casting Apparatus
An alternative method is allowed for taking the aquatic species listed below. Harvest of any other saltwater species by this method is prohibited.
- Bow and Arrows
- Standard Spearing Equipment used by a skin divers submerged in water when sport fishing
With the exception of game fish, the only legal method for a skin diver to take fish is when submerged in water using standard spearing equipment. See page 35 for a complete listing of game fish.
Mobility Impaired Individuals
As defined in R.S. 47:463.4(E), mobility impaired persons who are bona fide residents of Louisiana, in possession of valid identification, and over 60 years of age may use one legal slat trap and/or one hoop net not greater than 18 feet by 8 feet, where those gear are legal, without a license, only for the purpose of catching catfish and only for home consumption.
It is unlawful to possess any of the prohibited instruments, weapons, substances or devices described below with the intent to take fish.
- Gill Nets (freshwater and saltwater)
- Stupefying Substances or Devices
- Tree-topping Devices
- Any instrument or device capable of producing electric current to shock fish
- Snagging Devices
Including minnows, crawfish and shrimp (not including game fish)
- Cast nets
- Minnow traps
- Dip Nets(net must be on a fixed frame no larger than 3 feet in diameter worked exclusively by hand, by no more than one person, without any mechanical assistance)
- Bait Seines (a maximum mesh size not exceeding 1/4-inch bar, 1/2 inch stretched and 30 feet in length; must be operated solely on foot and by hand, without any pulley, mechanical device or assistance whatsoever)
- Recreational Trawls, only allowed in state waters when and where shrimp season is open.
Exceptions to Methods of Take by Species
Saltwater Restrictions and Exceptions by Method
Illegal Methods for Fishing or taking all Fish
Legal Bait Species
All saltwater finfish in the possession of a recreational angler must have the head and caudal fin intact until set on shore. Garfish may have the head and caudal fin removed prior to the fish being on shore as long as a sufficient patch of skin that clearly identifies the fish remains on the fish.
Exception: Tuna, swordfish and shark possessed by a recreational angler must not be skinned or scaled until set or put on shore. Tuna that meet minimum size requirements may have the head removed if the carcass length is in excess of the minimum total length. See Lengths on page 18.
Fillets may not be possessed on the water, except for the purpose of consumption at sea aboard the harvesting vessel. An individual must not have more than 2 pounds of finfish parts per person in state waters, or more than 1.5 pounds of finfish parts per person in federal waters, on board the vessel, provided that the vessel is equipped to cook finfish and that the finfish does not exceed applicable bag limits. These provisions do not apply to bait species.
Saltwater finfish caught or transported by a recreational fisherman are presumed to have been caught in Louisiana waters, for license requirements.
All regulations regarding these species apply whether caught in freshwater or saltwater areas.
A fisherman who holds and is in possession of a valid recreational fishing license and can demonstrate to the department’s satisfaction use of a boat launch located south of U.S. Hwy 90 and that the fisherman has been actively on the water or at a remote camp that can be accessed only by water for two days or more may possess up to the possession limit of filleted red drum, spotted seatrout, and southern flounder. The filleted fish shall have sufficient skin remaining on the fillet to allow for identification of the species and shall be segregated by species into plastic bags or plastic containers that are marked by species to allow for easy identification, the date caught, and the name and license number of the person who took the fish. The spotted sea trout fillets shall be no less than 10 inches in length and the red drum fillets shall be no less than 14 inches in length. The fish shall be in possession only of the person who took the fish. However, no fisherman shall be actively fishing or engaged in fishing while in possession of more than the daily take limit.
Required Onboard Gear for Fishing in Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters
Louisiana state waters extend 9 nautical miles (10.357 statute miles or 3 marine leagues) seaward from the nearest land, but in some cases extend further. The EEZ is described as waters that extend seaward from that point out to 200 miles from the coast.
Recreational anglers onboard a vessel to fish for or possess Gulf reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ must possess onboard and use the required gear as specified below. These devices are required because they reduce mortality on released fish. See page 16 for tips on safely releasing fish.
Non-stainless Steel Circle Hooks
Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits for reef fish.
At least one dehooking device is required on board and must be used to remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimum damage. The device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without reengaging during the removal process. The dehooking end must be blunt and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the Gulf reef fishery.