Saltwater Fishing

Fishing Regulations Icon Louisiana Fishing


State License Requirements

  • Basic Fishing License
  • Saltwater Fishing License
  • A Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP), free of charge, is required of all anglers to possess tunas, billfish, swordfish, amberjacks, groupers, hinds, snappers, dolphinfish, wahoo and cobia, EXCEPT those anglers on a paid for-hire trip where the captain possesses a valid Charter Recreational Offshore Landing Permit, or those anglers that are under the age of 16, not normally required to have a fishing license.
  • The Recreational Offshore Landing Permit can be found on the LDWF website at rolp.wlf.la.gov or through smartphone applications. The iPhone app can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store by searching for the “LDWF ROLP.” The Android app can also be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store by searching for “LDWF ROLP.”

All applicable licenses must be in possession of the fisherman.

Federal License Requirements

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Division in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

  • An Atlantic HMS Angling Permit is required for vessels fishing for tunas, billfishes, swordfish and sharks. You may apply for an initial or renewal permit in one of several ways. The permit fee is $20.
  • To apply for an initial or renewal permit online visit the NMFS Permit Shop at hmspermits.noaa.gov.
  • An initial or renewal application package can be downloaded from the NMFS Permit Shop or mailed by calling the NMFS at 888-872-8862.
  • Renew permits by calling the automated voice response system at 888-872-8862. Permits will be valid from the date of issuance through Dec. 31, 2019.
  • A shark endorsement is required when targeting or possessing sharks under this permit. See hmspermits.noaa.gov for more details.
  • An Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat Permit is required for all charter or headboat fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic HMS in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico The permit fee is $20. HMS Charter/Headboat Permit will be valid from the date of issuance through Dec. 31, 2019.
  • A Federal Shrimp Vessel Permit is required for all vessels fishing shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ.

Information about obtaining HMS permits and regulations are available at hmspermits.noaa.gov or by calling 888-872-8862.

State and Federal Licenses and Permit Requirements

Saltwater Fishing

The National Marine Fisheries Service has a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Weather Service to broadcast unanticipated and time-critical fishery regulatory actions where there is minimal opportunity for advance public notice. These broadcasts are issued for four or five days, 24 hours a day, by selected NWR coastal stations. (VHF frequencies in MHz)







Threatened or Endangered and Prohibited Species

The federally listed threatened and endangered, or prohibited species listed below are off limits for fishing or recreational take. Civil and criminal penalties may apply for taking the following aquatic species. If any of these protected species are incidentally caught, they must be released immediately unharmed. See page 16 for tips on safely releasing fish.

All Whales

Dolphin (mammal)

Goliath Grouper

Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi)

Largetooth Sawfish

Nassau Grouper

Sea Turtles

Smalltooth Sawfish

West Indian Manatee


Atlantic Angel Shark

Basking Shark

Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark

Bigeye Sixgill Shark

Bigeye Thresher Shark

Bignose Shark

Caribbean Reef Shark

Caribbean Sharpnose Shark

Dusky Shark

Galapagos Shark

Longfin Mako Shark

Narrowtooth Shark

Night Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

Sevengill Shark

Sixgill Shark

Smalltail Shark

Whale Shark

White Shark

Federal regulations require any person conducting a fishing tournament in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico involving the catch and/or landing of any HMS regulated species to register with the HMS Management Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service at least four weeks prior to start of the tournament. A Tournament Registration Form is available on the NMFS website at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/tournaments/registration.html.

To register a tournament, an Atlantic HMS Tournament Registration Form must be completed, signed, and sent to the Atlantic HMS Management Division by mail or fax.

Fax: 727-824-5398

Mailing Address:

HMS Tournament Registration

National Marine Fisheries Service

263 13th Avenue S.

St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Once the registration form has been processed an Atlantic HMS Tournament Confirmation Number will be produced and provided to the tournament operator.

NOTE: Registration is not complete unless the tournament operator has received a confirmation number from the HMS Management Division of NMFS. For more information call 727-824-5399; hmspermits.noaa.gov.

Know Before you go

Saltwater Species you Cannot Harvest

Recreational Saltwater Tournament Operators

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages federal waters from where the Louisiana gulfward boundary ends and extends 200 miles seaward into the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana recreational and commercial anglers fishing beyond the 3 nautical-mile Louisiana gulfward boundary are in federal waters.

*NOTE: The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a resolution to clarify the effects of the extension of the state water boundary from three to nine nautical miles for reef fish management purposes, as established by the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The resolution clearly states that fishing gear used by the reef fish fishermen in the commercial and recreational sectors will not change within these new boundary waters. The fishermen of Louisiana will have the benefit of Louisiana’s reef fish management to 9 nautical miles, but there will be no change to the method of take or gear restrictions. Please also note that red drum are not considered reef fish; therefore, there is no change to regulations impacting this species.

LDWF reminds charter fishermen with federal reef fish permits that they are only allowed to fish these new boundary waters when the federal recreational reef fish season is open. Federal reef fish permit regulations restrict the permit holder to the most restrictive season.

These waters are also known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Federal fishing regulations are not always the same as state fishing regulations. To make sure that you are in complete compliance with federal regulations call the Gulf Council at 888-833-1844, or e-mail gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org. Visit www.gulfcouncil.org for information about federal fishing regulations, measurement guidelines, sanctuaries & closures and fish identification charts.