No fish of any species from outside of the state of Louisiana shall be liberated within the state
except upon written permission of the Secretary of LDWF.
Freshwater Species you Cannot Harvest
The federally listed threatened and endangered, or prohibited species listed below are off limits for recreational take. Civil and criminal penalties may apply for taking the following aquatic species.
- Louisiana pearlshell mussel (Margaritifera hembeli)
- Inflated heelsplitter mussel (Potamilus inflatus)
- Fat pocketbook mussel (Potamilus capax)
- Pink mucket mussel (Lampsilis abrupta)
- Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi)
- Pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus)
- Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus)
- Rabbitsfoot Mussel (Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica)
Prohibited Freshwater Fish
It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to possess, sell, or transport any of the following species of fish into Louisiana without first obtaining the written permission of the secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
- All species of tilapia
- Carp (except koi, common carp and goldfish)
- Freshwater electric eel
- All members of the families of Asian swamp eels, snakeheads, walking catfishes, and pencil catfishes
Exotic species of Asian carp (silver, bighead, black and grass) taken from state waters must not be returned to the water and may not be possessed alive.
No person shall have in possession or sell in this state a piranha or Rio Grande cichlid. If an angler catches a Rio Grande cichlid using legal methods, the fish shall not be returned to the water or kept alive while in the possession of the angler.
Daily Bag Limit
Recreational anglers must not exceed the daily bag limit for any species while on the water.
No recreational anglers can have in their possession more than twice the daily bag limit of any species of freshwater recreational fish, EXCEPT that anglers may have up to three times the daily bag limit of black bass (Micropterus spp.) below U.S. Highway 90 in coastal Louisiana. Anglers may have up to 100 crappie in their possession at Toledo Bend Reservoir.
All freshwater game fish caught in any type of recreational or commercial net or trap must be returned immediately to the water from which it was taken without injury. See tips for safely releasing fish at www.wlf.la.gov/page/best-fishing-practices.
No person shall possess filleted fish while aboard a vessel in freshwater. However, for the purpose of consumption, a person shall have no more than 2 pounds of filleted finfish per person on board a vessel in freshwater, provided that the vessel is equipped to cook such finish and such finfish does not exceed the applicable take limit.
Freshwater Fishing in Louisiana
All anglers fishing in freshwater must possess a valid Basic Fishing License.
A Basic Fishing License is also required to use the following gear:
- Bow and arrow
- Barbed or barbless spear
- Frog gig/catcher
- Scuba gear
- Hook and Line
- Cast net (radius not to exceed 8 feet, 6 inches)
All applicable licenses must be in possession of the fisherman.
Methods for Fishing or Taking Freshwater Fish
There are many ways to catch fish and other aquatic species in Louisiana’s beautiful rivers, lakes, bayous, ponds and streams. The headings below define the legal methods and illegal methods of take, and certain exceptions that are allowable by species, methods and locations.
Always check with an LDWF Enforcement Office if you have questions. See Department of Fisheries & Wildlife for contact information.
Legal Methods of Take
- Hook and Line
- Bow and Arrow
- Yo-yos or Trigger Devices
- Recreational Slat Traps
- 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 recreational skin divers submerged in water when sport fishing)
- Barbed Gig (allowed in saltwater for taking flounder ONLY)
- Recreational Hoop Nets*
- Recreational Wire Nets*
* Allowed only in the geographical areas of the state designated as Freshwater (see map and definition on General Information).
Illegal Methods for Fishing or taking All Fish
It is unlawful to possess any of the prohibited instruments, weapons, substances or devices described below with the intent to take fish.
- Spears (see garfish, silver carp and bighead carp exception listed in “Gear Restrictions by Species” section)
- Stupefying Substances or Devices
- Any instrument or device capable of producing electric current to shock fish
- Snagging Devices (see catfish, silver carp, and big head carp exceptions listed below)
You may not use any aircraft including fixed-wing, dirigibles, balloons, helicopters, or any other form of aerial surveillance to assist in harvesting finfish, except menhaden and herring-like fish.
Gear Restrictions by Species
Some alternative methods are allowed for catching/taking specific aquatic species.
Freshwater Game fish
Game fish are defined as largemouth bass, spotted bass, shadow bass, yellow bass, white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, black crappie, white crappie, and bream
- Bream (Lepomis spp.) may not be taken as bait for sportfishing purposes in any form of trap except at Toledo Bend Reservoir, where a minnow trap not exceeding 24 inches in length and having a throat no larger than 1 inch by 3 inches may be used to take bream for non-commercial bait purposes
- Standard Spearing Equipment used by recreational skin divers is prohibited.
- Bow and Arrow
- Possession of game fish with nets or traps including recreational hoop nets, slat traps, pipes, buckets, drums, tires or cans including those licensed for recreational purposes.
Legal – snagging devices
(commonly called “spoonbill catfish,” but are not catfish)
NOT Legal – snagging devices
- Bows and arrows
Legal Bait Species
Including minnows, crawfish and shrimp (does not include game fish)
- Cast nets
- Minnow traps
- Recreational Trawls
- 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 (with 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)
Silver Carp & Bighead Carp
- Dip nets
Restrictions and Exceptions by Method
- Standard spearing equipment is the only legal method of take for non-game species that can be used by a skin diver submerged in water
- The taking of gamefish with standard spearing equipment is prohibited.
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.
Restrictions by Location
Some Louisiana waterbodies have specific gear restrictions and are listed below.
Trotlines and Yo-yos
Black-Clear Lake, Caddo Lake, Chicot Lake, Lake D’Arbonne, Lake Lafourche, Lake St. Joseph, and Prairie Lake
Poverty Point Lake and Bussey Brake Reservoir
You may not use trotlines or yo-yos.
Anacoco Lake, Lake Vernon and the portion of Anacoco Bayou between the lakes, Lake Bistineau, Bundick Lake, Caney Creek Reservoir, Cross Lake, and Chicot Lake
No fish seines, gill nets, hoop nets or trammel nets.
Lake Bartholomew, Caddo Lake,
Lake Claiborne, Lake Concordia, and D’Arbonne Lake
No fish seines, gill nets or trammel nets.
Bogue Chitto River
Lake Charles, Moss Lake, and Prien Lake
No butterfly nets or shrimp trawls longer than 16 feet, fish seines, gill nets, strike nets or trammel nets.
Cypress Lake and Black Bayou Reservoir
False River Lake, Lake Bruin, Lake Providence, and Poverty Point Lake
You may only use gill and trammel nets from Oct. 1 through sunset on the last day of February of the following year. Net mesh must be at least 3.5 inches square (7 inches stretched). You may leave gear overnight but may only remove fish during daylight hours.
No fish seines.
John K. Kelly-Grand Bayou Reservoir
No fish seines, gill nets, hoop nets, trammel nets or wire nets.
No gill nets, hoop nets or trammel nets from March 1 – Nov. 30 (in the portion that flows through Lacassine National Refuge).
Nantachie Lake and Bussey Brake Reservoir
No nets allowed.
No seines, nets or webbing in this river or its tributaries, from its origin in Washington Parish to where it empties into Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish.
Toledo Bend Reservoir
No gill nets, trammel nets, flag webbing or fish seines. No hoop nets from March 1 to May 15 (only in that portion of the reservoir from a point north of Logansport where the lake enters Texas and south to a point on the lake where the Texas Duck Refuge Canal intersects the Old Channel of the Sabine River).
Slat traps are allowed from Oct. 1 through sunset on the last day of February of the following year. You may leave gear overnight but may only remove fish during daylight hours.
Poverty Point Lake
No slat traps.
No traps in this river or its tributaries, from its origin in Washington Parish to where it empties into Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish.