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Freshwater Fishing

Fishing Regulations Icon Louisiana Fishing

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 Fishing in Louisiana

License Requirements

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.

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
  • Rudd
  • 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.

Possession Limit

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.

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.

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 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).

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.

  • Crossbows
  • Poisons
  • Spears (see garfish, silver carp and bighead carp exception listed in “Gear Restrictions by Species” section)
  • Stupefying Substances or Devices
  • Explosives
  • Guns
  • 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)

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

LEGAL

  • 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

    NOT LEGAL

  • 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.

    Catfish

    Legal

    snagging devices

    Paddlefish (commonly called “spoonbill catfish,” but are not catfish)

    NOT Legal

    snagging devices

    Garfish

    Legal

  • Spears
  • Bows and arrows

    Legal Bait Species

    Including minnows, crawfish and shrimp (does not include game fish)

    Legal

  • 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

    Legal

  • Boats
  • Dip nets
  • Spears
  • Snagging

Restrictions and Exceptions by Method

Divers

LEGAL

  • 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

    NOT LEGAL

  • 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.

Anacoco Lake, Lake Vernon and Anacoco Bayou (Vernon Parish)

Bundick lake (Beauregard Parish)

Fish Net Restrictions

  • The use of fish nets (gill nets, trammel nets, hoop nets, fish seines) in Bundick Lake, Anacoco Lake, Lake Vernon and that portion of Anacoco Bayou between the two lakes is prohibited.

    Black Lake, Clear Lake, Prairie Lake (Natchitoches Parish)

    Caddo Lake (Caddo Parish)

    Chicot Lake (Evangeline Parish)

    Lake D’Arbonne (Union Parish)

    Lake Lafourche (Caldwell Parish) and Lake Saint Joseph (Tensas Parish)

    Yo-Yo Restrictions

  • The placement of any artificial object to anchor a yo-yo or trigger device is prohibited.
  • No more than 50 yo-yos or trigger devices allowed per person.
  • Each yo-yo or trigger device must be clearly tagged with the name, address and telephone number of the owner/user.
  • All fish or any other animals caught or hooked must be immediately removed from the device.
  • Each yo-yo or trigger device must be re-baited at least once every 24 hours.
  • No yo-yo or trigger device is allowed to be attached to any metallic object.
  • Except for an object used strictly in the construction of a pier, boathouse, seawall, or dock, no object which is driven into the lake bottom, a stump, tree, or the shoreline shall be used to anchor a yo-yo or trigger device. “Object” means rebar or other metal material, cane, PVC tubing, construction material, or any other type of material.

    Trotline Restrictions

  • All trotlines must be marked, tagged, and dated with the owner/user’s name, address, phone number and date of placement. The trotline must be marked on each end with a floating object that is readily visible.
  • No person is allowed to set more than three trotlines with a maximum of 50 hooks per trotline.
  • All trotlines must have an 8-foot cotton leader on each end of the trotline to insure that if the trotline is left unattended, the cotton leader will deteriorate and the line will sink.
  • All trotlines must be attended daily while in service.

    Bogue Chitto River

    Seines, Nets and Webbing Restrictions

  • The use of seines, nets or webbing for the taking of fish in Bogue Chitto River from where it enters the state in the northern part of Washington Parish to where it enters into the Pearl River in St. Tammany Parish is prohibited.

    Taking by Hand

  • The taking of fish from logs, buckets, barrels, drums or natural or artificial nesting areas by hand grabbing is also prohibited in this area.

    Cypress Lake and Black Bayou Reservoir (Bossier Parish)

    Hoop Nets, Wire Nets and Slat Traps

  • These devices are prohibited from March 1 – Oct. 31 of each year.
  • These devices must be removed from the lakes prior to March 1 of each year.

    Poverty Point Reservoir

    No person is allowed to possess, set or use any recreational hoop nets, recreational wire nets, yo-yos, trotlines or slat traps at this location.

    Tchefuncte River

    Seines, nets, webbing or traps of any kind and all types, including slat traps, for the taking of fish in the Tchefuncte River, and its tributaries, from its origin in Washington Parish to where it empties into Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish, are prohibited.

Freshwater State Creel and Size Limits

Key

MLL – Minimum Length Limit SL – Slot Limit

Possession Limit is TWICE the daily creel limit unless otherwise stated.4

Freshwater Game Fish

Black Bass (Largemouth & Spotted)1

Location Size Limit Daily Creel Limit

All state waters EXCEPT as follows:

None

10 daily

Eagle Lake

16” MLL

10 daily

Poverty Point Reservoir

15-19” protected SL2

8 daily

No more than one over 19” total length

Caney Creek Lake (Jackson Parish)

15-19” protected SL2

8 daily

No more than two over 19” total length

False River (Pointe Coupee Parish)

14” MLL

5 daily

John K. Kelly-Grand Bayou Reservoir (Red River Parish)

14-17” protected SL2

8 daily

No more than four over 17” total length

Caddo Lake

14-18” protected SL2

for Largemouth Bass

No length restriction for Spotted Bass

8 daily

No more than four Largemouth Bass over 18” total length

Toledo Bend Reservoir and the Sabine River3 above Toledo Bend

14” MLL for Largemouth Bass

No MLL for Spotted Bass

8 daily in combination or aggregate

Sabine River from Toledo Bend dam to I-10

12” MLL for Largemouth Bass

No MLL for Spotted Bass

8 daily in combination or aggregate

Sabine River south of I-10 (Louisiana waters only)

Statewide regulations apply

10 daily

1 NOTE: For enforcement purposes, a spotted bass is defined as a black bass with a tooth patch on the tongue.

2 Fish falling within a protected slot limit must be immediately released.

3 Sabine River upstream from Toledo Bend Reservoir to the point at which the entire river enters TX (state line is marked with a sign).

4 Anglers may have up to three times the daily bag limit of black bass (Micropterus spp.) below U.S. Highway 90 in coastal Louisiana providing the fish are kept whole or whole gutted in separate bags for each daily take limit. The bags must be marked with the date fish were taken, the species and number of fish contained in the bag, and the name and recreational fishing license number of the person taking the fish.

Freshwater Game Fish

Location Size Limit Daily Creel Limit

Striped or Hybrid Striped Bass

(or any combination thereof)

All state waters

None

5 daily

No more than two over 30” total length

White Bass

All state waters EXCEPT as

follows:

None

50 daily

Caddo Lake, Sabine River and Toledo Bend Reservoir

None

25 daily

Crappie

All state waters EXCEPT as

follows:

None

50 daily

100 fish possession limit

Poverty Point,

Caddo Lake and Sabine River

None

25 daily

50 fish possession limit

Toledo Bend Reservoir

None

25 daily

100 fish possession limit

Eagle Lake

(Madison Parish)

11” MLL

30 daily

30 fish possession limit

Yellow Bass

All state waters EXCEPT as

follows:

None

50 daily

Caddo Lake, Sabine River and Toledo Bend Reservoir

None

No limit

Freshwater Nongame Fish
Location Size Limit Daily Creel Limit
Bowfin (Choupique)

All state waters

16” MLL

No limit
Buffalo Fish (or their hybrids)

All state waters

16” MLL

25 daily

Freshwater Nongame Fish

Location Size Limit Daily Creel Limit
Catfish

All state waters EXCEPT as

follows:

Blue Catfish:

12” MLL

100 daily in the aggregate. A fisherman may possess up to 25 undersized catfish of the three species combined.

Channel Catfish:

11” MLL

Flathead Catfish:

14” MLL

Caddo Lake, Sabine River and Toledo Bend Reservoir

Blue & Channel Catfish:

None

50 daily in the aggregate No more than five over 30” total length

Flathead Catfish:

18” MLL

10 daily

Freshwater Drum (Gaspergou)

All state waters

12” MLL

25 daily
Paddlefish

Statewide

30” max lower jaw fork length

2 daily (fish cannot be retained alive & cannot be harvested by snagging methods)

Boundary waters with Texas and below the saltwater line

no legal harvest or possession

Shad

All state waters

None

50 pounds daily

Sturgeon

All state waters

N/A

No legal harvest or possession

Other Freshwater Fish

All state waters

None

No limit
Crawfish

All state waters

None

150 pounds daily

Yellow Bass: Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Gizzard Shad: NOAA; All other images by Duane Raver