SALE OF RECREATIONAL FISH PROHIBITED
All aquatic species caught must be for personal use only and are not to be sold or used for commercial purposes. It is illegal to buy, sell or trade any game fish.
General information for Freshwater & Saltwater Anglers
Louisiana is known around the world as a premier sport fishing destination. The Office of Fisheries uses scientific management methods to protect and enhance fish environments, habitats and other populations of aquatic species. As an angler, the decisions you make and your catch help us sustain the fisheries for present and future generations.
Know Before You Go!
Want to check the weather and river stages before you leave on your next fishing trip? Call the National Weather Service’s Dial A Forecast for regularly updated marine forecasts.
- Shreveport 318-635-7575 or www.weather.gov/shv
- Lake Charles 337-439-0000 or www.weather.gov/lch
- New Orleans 504-522-7330 or www.weather.gov/lix
Also stay tuned to the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) for up to the minute broadcasts.
Best Practices for Catch and Release Fishing
Proper fish handling techniques are critical for the survival of your catch.
- Never play the fish to complete exhaustion.
- Handle the fish as little as possible and use wet hands, a wet towel or wet gloves.
- Avoid any contact with the gills.
- Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. Do not let the fish flop on a deck or beach.
- If you must remove the fish from the water, keep air exposure to a minimum.
- Use a landing net only when necessary. A soft knotless mesh or rubber net is less damaging to the fish’s eyes, fins and mucus coating (slime).
- Circle hooks, barbless hooks or hooks with crimped barb make removal easier.
- If the hook is deeply buried, cut the line as close to the hook as possible.
- Return the fish to water as quickly as possible. If it is sluggish, gently hold it and move it forward and back to get water moving across the gills.
A fish that appears to be in poor condition probably has a low chance of survival. If legal, consider keeping that fish for consumption.
Caring for your Catch
You can never be too careful when preserving your catch for later consumption. The fish must be iced down to remain fresh. A fish that feels mushy and has cloudy eyes may have spoiled and can make you sick.
- Be sure you have plenty of ice on hand. Place the fish on ice as soon as you remove the hook.
- Pour the ice out of the bag into your ice chest and place a layer of ice above and below the fish.
- Another technique in keeping fish fresh on hot days or for extended periods is to gut the fish and pack the body cavities with ice. This practice chills the fish faster.
- Anglers using baskets and live wells should be aware that overcrowded fish die quickly. If using a stringer, put the stringer through the jaw tissue and not the gills. Anglers using live wells on their vessel should also be aware of this danger.
- Cleaning your fish at the end of the fishing day is recommended. If you stored your fish on ice, use fresh ice for the newly cleaned fish.
- Keep the fish as cold as possible and refrigerate them as quickly as possible.
How To Measure Your Fish
Use these guidelines to measure a fish correctly (refer to Illustrations):
- Place the fish on its side on a flat board with the jaw closed.
- Total Length – Measure in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the extreme tip of the tail fin. Adjust the tail by rotating (Example 1) or by squeezing (Example 2) to obtain the maximum length of the fish (Illustration 1).
- Fork Length – Measure in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail (Illustration 2).
- Lower Jaw Fork Length – Measure in a straight line the length from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail (Illustration 3).
- Curved Fork Length – Measure from the tip of the upper jaw to fork of tail measured along the contour of the middle of the body (Illustration 4).
- Carcass Length – Measure the curve from posterior edge of gill opening to anterior portion of caudal keel (Illustration 4).
Fish illustrations by Duane Raver
Saltwater – Freshwater Line
The saltwater-freshwater line in Louisiana extends easterly from the Texas state line all the way to the Mississippi state line. The areas north of this saltwater-freshwater line are deemed freshwater. The areas south of the described line, including a number of saltwater lakes and waterways, are legally considered saltwater. Although the actual levels of salt in the water may differ from day to day due to tides and shifts in wind and currents, in most cases, the flora and fauna found on either side of the line differ dramatically. A detailed description of the saltwater-freshwater line can be found below. As with any regulation issue, please contact your local LDWF Enforcement Office with any questions you may have.
NOTE: Persons fishing and/or possessing saltwater fish in these areas are required to have a saltwater fishing license in addition to the basic fishing license. Persons fishing for and/or possessing freshwater fish in saltwater areas are not required to hold a saltwater license.
Louisiana Saltwater Line Definition
The Intracoastal waterway from the Texas-Louisiana boundary to its junction with Louisiana Highway 27 at Gibbstown, south along Louisiana Highway 82, east to its junction with the Intracoastal Waterway at Forked Island, the Intracoastal Waterway from Forked Island to Bayou Barataria to the Harvey Canal, the Harvey Canal to the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River to the Industrial Canal, the Industrial Canal to the Intracoastal Waterway, the Intracoastal Waterway to the Rigolets in Orleans Parish to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bridge, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad right-of-way from the Orleans Parish line to the Mississippi state line.
Also, the areas south of the above described line, plus the saltwater lakes known as Lake Maurepas, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake St. Catherine, Chef Menteur Pass (except that 7/10 of a mile section from Bayou Sauvage south to the Intracoastal Waterway), the Rigolets, Unknown Pass, Pass Manchac, Intracoastal, and that portion of the Calcasieu Ship Channel from the Intracoastal Waterway south to the Gulf of Mexico, shall be designated as saltwater areas.