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WMAs, Refuges & Federal Lands

Fishing Regulations Icon Louisiana Fishing

Fishing Regulations on Wildlife Management Areas, Refuges & Federal Lands

Wildlife management areas (WMAs), refuges and certain federal lands may have special fishing seasons and bag and possession limits, size limits or closures that differ from general regulations.

Required Licenses

A Wild Louisiana Stamp, hunting license or fishing license, depending on activities in which an individual is engaged, is required for use of department-administered lands, including wildlife refuges, WMAs and habitat conservation areas. Persons under 16 years of age and over 60 years of age or older are exempt from this requirement. Persons attending official functions of private, non-profit and charitable organizations recognized as tax-exempt under the provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code shall also be exempted from this requirement.

General Information

The operation of boats with internal combustion engines within designated limited access areas (LAAs), on some WMAs is restricted during specified times of the year. Limited access areas exist within the Atchafalaya Delta, Dewey W. Wills, Joyce (year-round), Manchac, Pass-a-Loutre and Pointe-aux-Chenes WMAs. Refer to LDWF Hunting Regulations pamphlet for details specific to each WMA.

LAAs are posted with signage at access points around the perimeter. Any vessel with a movable outdrive system may enter an LAA as long as the boat’s internal combustion engine is trimmed up out of the water in an inoperable position. Vessels with fixed props must adhere to the “no operation” rule. Trolling motors may be used to access and navigate within an LAA while hunting or fishing, EXCEPT on Dewey W. Wills WMA, where all motorized vessels and vehicles are prohibited.

Additional restrictions may apply at some WMAs. Below are specific restrictions by WMA. For additional information, contact your local LDWF Office.

For National Wildlife Refuges, please contact the area offices as follows:

  • North Louisiana Complex –

    318-726-4222

  • Central Louisiana Complex –

    318-253-4238

  • Southeast Louisiana Complex –

    985-882-2000

  • Southwest Louisiana Complex –

    337-598-2216

    For fishing information on the Indian Bayou Recreational Area within the Atchafalaya Basin or the Bonne Carre Spillway contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 337-585-0853.

    For fishing information within the Catahoula and Red Dirt National Wildlife Management Preserves, contact Kisatchie National forest 318-473-7160.

Atchafalaya Delta

  • Camping and houseboat mooring is allowed only in designated areas. Houseboat mooring is allowed via permit only (through annual lottery or by a bid lease program during hunting season and by 16 day permit during the remainder of the year). Contact New Iberia Field Office for details.
  • Vessels/Vehicles: Mudboats or air-cooled propulsion vessels powered by more than 36 total horsepower are prohibited on the WMA.
  • Limited Access Area: Operation of internal combustion engines prohibited from September through January. See WMA map for specific locations.

Big Lake

Nets, yoyos, and trotlines prohibited on Big and Chain Lakes.

Biloxi

Vessels/Vehicles: Mud boats or air-cooled propulsion vessels can only be powered by straight shaft “long tail” air-cooled mud motors that are 25 total horsepower or less on the WMA. All other types of mud boats or air cooled propulsion vessels (including “surface drive” boats) are prohibited.

Camp Beauregard

Special regulations to be posted at Twin Lakes.

Dewey W. Wills

  • Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • Limited Access Area: No motorized vessels or vehicles Nov. 1 – Jan. 31. See WMA map for specific locations.

Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge

  • Commercial fishing, including guide service, is CLOSED.
  • Access and use of Elmer’s Island is only permitted 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset seven days a week. However, the secretary of LDWF may restrict any portion of Elmer’s Island whenever circumstances exist such that restrictions are necessary to protect the Refuge or to protect the public from harm.
  • Camping or overnight activities are prohibited.
  • No glass containers are allowed.
  • The discharge of firearms, including muzzleloaders, bows and arrows, or crossbows is prohibited.
  • Maximum speed limit on the island is 5 MPH.
  • Check for emergency closures and other information on Elmer’s Island at www.wlf.la.gov/refuge/elmers-island.

Fort Polk-Vernon

Special regulations pertaining to fishing are posted at specific lakes.

Grassy Lake

  • Recreational fishing is permitted only after 2 p.m., during the waterfowl season in Smith and Red River bays, and in Grassy Lake proper.
  • Recreational crawfishing is permitted from March 15 – July 31 and is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.

Isle Dernieres Barrier Islands Refuge

Wine Island, East Island, Whiskey Island and Raccoon Island

  • Public access by any means to the exposed land areas, wetlands, and interior waterways of these islands is prohibited without a permit.
  • Disturbing, injuring, or collecting flora, fauna, or other property is prohibited without a permit.
  • Boat traffic is allowed adjacent to the islands in open water (Gulf and bays).
  • Boat traffic is prohibited in waterways extending into the interior of the islands or within any land-locked open waters or wetlands of the islands.
  • Fishing from boats along the shore and wade fishing in the surf areas of the islands is allowed.
  • Littering is prohibited.

    Trinity Island

  • Public access is allowed in a designated public use area.
  • The area is approximately 3,000 linear feet by 500 linear feet and it borders the western end of the man-made canal commonly known as California Canal. It is accessible via California Canal or the Gulf of Mexico. The boundaries are marked and maintained by LDWF.
  • Public recreation such as bird-watching, picnicking, fishing, and overnight camping is allowed in this area.
  • Travel on or across this area shall be limited to foot or bicycle traffic only. No use of ATVs or other vehicles powered by internal combustion engines or electric motors shall be allowed.
  • Carrying, possessing, or discharging firearms, fireworks, or explosives in the designated public use area is prohibited.
  • Littering is prohibited.
  • Disturbing, injuring, or collecting flora, fauna, or other property is prohibited without a permit.
  • Any member of the public utilizing the public use area must have a portable waste disposal container to collect all human waste and to remove it upon leaving the island.
  • Public access outside of the public use area is prohibited without a permit.
  • Boat traffic is allowed adjacent to the island in open water (Gulf and bays) and within the man-made canal commonly known as California Canal.
  • Fishing from boats along the shore and wade fishing in the surf areas of the island is allowed.
  • No boat traffic is allowed in other man-made or natural waterways extending into the interior of the island or in any land-locked open waters or wetlands of the island.

Joyce

  • Limited Access Area: Internal combustion engines prohibited year-round. See WMA map for specific location.
  • Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day.

J.C. Sonny Gilbert

Fishing restricted to rod and reel, and pole fishing only. All other gear prohibited.

Lake Boeuf

  • Self-clearing Permit required for all activities. Self-clearing Permits available at Theriot Canal Boat Landing on LA 308.
  • All nighttime activities prohibited, including frogging.

Manchac

  • Limited Access Area: No internal combustion engines allowed from September through January. See WMA map for specific location.
  • Crab traps are prohibited. Attended lift nets are allowed.

Maurepas Swamp

Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day.

Pass-A-Loutre

  • Oyster harvesting is prohibited.
  • Camping is allowed only in designated areas. Self-Clearing Permit required for camping on the WMA. Self-Clearing Permits available at all designated camping areas, and at the WMA Headquarters.
  • Vessels/Vehicles: Mudboats or air-cooled propulsion vessels powered by more than 36 total horsepower are prohibited on the WMA. Operation of mud boats and air-cooled propulsion engines prohibited after 2:00 p.m. Sept. 1 – Jan. 31, EXCEPT allowed after 2:00 p.m. in South Pass, Pass-a-Loutre, Southeast Pass, Loomis Pass, Dennis Pass, and Cadro Pass.
  • Limited Access Area: Operation of internal combustion engines prohibited from September through January. See WMA map for specific locations.

Pearl River

Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day.

Pointe-aux-Chenes

  • All nighttime activities prohibited EXCEPT fishing adjacent to the road side of Island Road. Possession of more than one daily limit of fish/crab/shrimp while on the WMA is prohibited. Nighttime use of vessels to access any other areas of the WMA, other than the immediate roadside of Island Road is prohibited.
  • The harvest of all fish, shrimp, crabs and crawfish is for recreational purposes only and any commercial use is prohibited.

    Shrimping

  • Shrimp may be taken by the use of cast nets only.
  • During the inside open shrimp season, 25 pounds per boat per day (heads on) maximum allowed. Size count must conform to open season requirements.
  • During the inside closed season, 10 pounds per boat per day (heads on) may be taken for bait.
  • All castnet contents shall be contained and bycatch returned to the water immediately.

    Oysters

  • Oyster harvesting is prohibited.

    Finfish

  • Fish may be taken only by rod and reel or by hand lines for recreational purposes only.

    Crabbing

  • Crabs may be taken only through the use of hand lines or nets; however, none are to remain set overnight.
  • Twelve dozen crabs maximum are allowed per boat or vehicle per day.

    Crawfishing

  • Crawfish may be harvested in unrestricted portions of the WMA and shall be limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • Fishing gear used to catch crawfish must not remain set overnight.

    Vessels & vehicles

  • All boats powered by internal combustion engines having horsepower ratings above 25 hp., are not allowed in the Grand Bayou, Montegut and Pointe-aux-Chenes water management units. The public is permitted to travel anytime through the WMA for access purposes only, in the waterways known as Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes, Grand Bayou, Humble Canal, Little Bayou Blue, St. Louis Canal, and Grand Bayou Blue. All other motorized vehicles, as well as horses and mules, are prohibited unless authorized by LDWF.
  • Type A personal watercraft, model year 2003 and beyond, which are 8 or more feet in length may be operated on Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA from April 1 until the Monday after Labor Day Weekend, from sunrise to sunset only. No person shall operate such watercraft at a speed greater than “slow/no wake” within 100 feet of any anchored or moored vessel, shoreline, dock, pier, persons engaged in angling or any other manually powered vessel.

    Limited Access Area

  • Operation of internal combustion engines prohibited from September through January. See WMA map for specific locations.

Pomme De Terre

  • Recreational fishing regulations are the same as outside. NOTE: Allowed only after 2 p.m., during waterfowl season.
  • Recreational crawfishing is allowed from March 15 – July 31 and is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.

Richard K. Yancey

  • That portion West of the Mississippi River Levee, March 15 – July 31, recreational crawfishing only.
  • Crawfish harvest limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • No nets or traps may be left overnight. No motorized watercraft allowed.

Russell Sage

  • Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day limit.
  • The waterfowl refuge north of LA Hwy. 15 is closed to all fishing during duck season, including early teal season, EXCEPT allowed during the “Falconry for Ducks” portion of the waterfowl season.

Salvador/Timken

  • All nighttime activities prohibited, EXCEPT during the Experimental Nightime Activity Season.
  • Self-Clearing Permit required for all activities permitted during the Experimental Nighttime Activity Season.
  • The harvest of all fish, shrimp, crabs and crawfish are for recreational purposes only and any commercial use is prohibited.

    Shrimping

  • Shrimp may be taken by the use of cast nets only.
  • During the inside open shrimp season, 25 pounds per boat per day (heads on) maximum shall be permitted.
  • Size count shall conform with any open season requirements.
  • During the inside closed season, 10 pounds per boat per day (heads on) maximum may be taken for bait.
  • All castnet contents shall be contained and bycatch returned to the water immediately.

    Finfish

  • Fish may be taken only by rod and reel, or by hand lines for recreational purposes.

    Crabbing

  • Crabs may be taken only through the use of hand lines or nets; however, none are to remain set overnight.
  • Twelve dozen crabs maximum are allowed per boat or vehicle per day.

    Crawfishing

  • Crawfish may be harvested in unrestricted portions of the WMA and shall be limited to 100 pounds per person per day. Fishing gear used to catch crawfish shall not remain set overnight.

    Vessels & vehicles

  • Use of mudboats powered by internal combustion engines with more than four cylinders is prohibited.
  • Pulling boats over levees, dams or water control structures or any other activities that may cause detriment to the integrity of levees, dams and water control structures is prohibited.

    Experimental Nighttime Activity Season

  • Self-clearing Permit required
  • 12 a.m., June 1 through official sunrise Aug. 15. Nighttime activities LIMITED to the take of frogs and fishing with a rod and reel. All other nighttime activities prohibited. Daily limit of 50 frogs per vessel in aggregate (bull frogs/pig frogs). If engaged in frogging on or while traversing the WMA, all frogs in possession will be deemed to have been taken from the WMA. At no time may anyone possess more than on daily limit of frogs while on the water.
  • Size Limit: (Measured from the tip of the muzzle to the posterior end of the body between the hind legs). Bull frogs harvested must be 5 inches or larger. Pig frogs harvested must be 3 inches or larger.
  • Check out portion of self-clearing permit must include boat registration number under the comments section. Possession of firearms while participation in any experimental nighttime activity is prohibited.

Sherburne

  • Recreational crawfishing is permitted from March 15 – July 31 with a limit of 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.
  • No motorized watercrafts are allowed on the farm complex.

Soda Lake

That portion west of Twelve Mile Bayou closed to fishing Oct. 1 – March 31.

Spring Bayou

  • Recreational fishing is permitted, EXCEPT only after 2 p.m. during waterfowl season.
  • Recreational crawfishing is permitted from March 15 – July 31 and is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.

Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, State Wildlife Refuge (Vermilion) & Marsh Island Wildlife Refuge

  • Trawling is prohibited.
  • Trotlines, jug lines, trammel and gill nets, and traps are prohibited.
  • Use of the refuges is permitted from official sunrise to official sunset. This includes access routes through the refuge. Overnight camping is prohibited.
  • Firearms are prohibited. Littering is prohibited. Damage to or removal of trees, shrubs, and wild plants without prior approval is prohibited.

    Shrimping

  • 25 pounds of shrimp (heads on) per boat or vehicle per day is allowed during the inside open shrimp season as established by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
  • 10 pounds of shrimp (heads on) for bait purposes may be caught during the closed season.
  • Shrimp may be harvested only by cast net on the refuge and only for sport fishing or home consumption use. When harvesting shrimp with a cast net, contents shall be dumped in a container and not on the ground.

    Crawfishing

  • Recreational crawfishing is permitted in the open portion of the refuge with a limit of 100 pounds per boat or vehicle per day.
  • Set nets may be used but must be attended and removed from the refuge daily. No commercial harvest is allowed.

    Crabbing

  • Crabs may be harvested from the open portion of the refuge with a limit of 12 dozen crabs per boat or vehicle per day.
  • NOTE: No commercial harvest is allowed on Marsh Island, State Wildlife and Rockefeller refuges.

    Oysters

  • Oysters may be harvested by tonging (properly licensed) or by hand collection from the natural reefs, but only in waters approved (open) for harvest by the Department of Health and Hospitals.
  • One gallon per boat or vehicle per day is allowed and oysters must be opened at the reef and the shells returned to the reef.
  • Taking of oysters from the natural reefs may be closed at any time by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

    Vessels & Vehicles

  • Speedboat racing and water skiing are prohibited.
  • All boat traffic shall honor no wake zones and shall keep wave wash to a minimum.
  • Pulling boats over or around levees, dams or water control structures or any other activities that may cause detriment to the integrity of levees, dams and water control structures is prohibited.
  • Jet skis and airboats are prohibited.

KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST- NATIONAL CATAHOULA AND NATIONAL RED DIRT WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT PRESERVES

Preserves will be closed to fishing during deer gun hunts. Consult hunting regulations for dates.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Indian Bayou Area

Commercial and recreational crawfishing is permitted from Oct. 1 – Jan. 31 starting at 12 PM each day and all day from Feb. 1 – July 31 with an additional permit required. The permit is available Jan. 1. Call USACE Port Barre Office for more details 337-585-0853.

Free Fishing Weekend

June 9 – 10

Enjoy a weekend of fishing in Louisiana without having to purchase a license. See www.wlf.la.gov for special events and more information