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Freshwater Fishing in Mississippi

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FRESHWATER SPORT FISHING

MDWFP manages all public freshwater fish populations north of Hwy 90. This includes over 159,000 acres of flood control and water supply reservoirs, 18 state fishing lakes, 20 state park lakes and 15 community assistance ponds. Over 50,000 miles of creeks, streams, and rivers are also managed. A freshwater fishing license is required to fish in public waters north of Interstate 10, unless you are exempt. Review the license section at the beginning of the digest for license requirements or call (601) 432-2055. Fishing is allowed year round. Season dates, limits and restrictions are established for many species. Go to www.mdwfp.com for weekly fishing reports from February through November.

Free Fishing Days

On June 6 & 7, 2015, during National Fishing and Boating Week, a sport fishing license is not required for all open public waters, and fishing permits at State Lakes and State Park Lakes are free! July 4th is a free fishing day statewide. You can fish without a fishing license on July 4th in all waters of the state. State Fishing Lake and State Park Permits are required to fish in State Fishing Lakes and State Park Lakes on July 4.

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater fisheries and public fishing south of Hwy 90 are managed by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. For information concerning saltwater fishing, please call (228) 374-5000 or go to www.dmr.ms.gov. A saltwater fishing license is required to fish all waters south of Hwy 90.

On all public waters south of Interstate 10 and north of Hwy 90 either a freshwater fishing license or a saltwater fishing license is valid for use.

PUBLIC ACCESS

Many public waters in the state are located on or near private land. These waters must be accessed through a public access point or by permission from the landowner. Contact MDWFP if you have questions about access to fishing waters and for public access points.

GAME FISH

Game fish are defined as: bream (redear sunfish, bluegill, longear sunfish, war­mouth, green sunfish), crappie (white, black), black bass (largemouth, small­mouth, spotted) shadow bass, walleye, sauger, yellow perch, hybrid striped bass, striped bass, white bass, yellow bass, and pickerel (redfin, grass, and chain).

NON-GAME GROSS FISH

Non-game gross fish are defined as: gizzard shad, threadfin shad, gar (alligator, shortnose, longnose, spotted), eel, bowfin, common carp, asian carp, paddlefish, bull­heads (yellow, black, brown), buffalo (smallmouth, bigmouth, and black), spot­ted sucker, river carpsucker, quillback, highfin carpsucker, blacktail redhorse, freshwater drum, and catfish (channel, blue, flathead).

LEGAL SPORT FISHING METHODS

Hook and Line:Game fish may be taken by hook and line (one or more hooks, including rod and reel with artificial bait). You may actively fish with an unlimited number of poles or rod/reels except on waters where the number of poles or rod/reels is restricted. Check the Special Regulations Section for specific restrictions.

Bow & Arrow, Crossbow, Spear, or Gigare allowed for the harvest of the following non-game fishes: bowfin, buffalo, carp, catfish, freshwater drum, gar, and shad. Catfish may not be taken by bow and arrow, crossbow, spear or gig at State Fishing Lakes and State Park Lakes. No other species of fish may be harvested with these gears. Catfish may not be taken with spear or gig from May 1 through July 15.

Snagging: Snagging is when fish are intentionally hooked in any place other than the mouth. Snagging is allowed statewide the entire year for all game fish and non-game gross fish. Any size hook may be used when snagging except when fishing in spillways. See spillway restrictions.

Trotlines, Throwlines, Limblines and/or set hooksare allowed for the harvest of game fish and non-game gross fish. No more than a total of 100 single hooks may be fished. Hooks must be tied securely at least 2 feet apart.

Hook Limit

Each person having a valid sport fishing license may use no more than 100 hooks per person.

Free Floating Fishing Devices (FFFD), Jugs & Yo-Yos:No more than 25 jugs and no more than 25 yo-yos may be fished by an individual with no more than 2 single hooks on each of these devices. If these devices are attached to a line, they must be tied securely at least 2 feet apart. See State Border Waters section for legal number allowed in those areas. These gears do not need to be attended or tagged unless you are fishing in the following waters:

  1. Eagle Lake in Warren County
  2. Lake Washington in Washington County
  3. Sardis Lake in Panola, Marshall, and Lafayette Counties
  4. Enid Lake in Lafayette, Panola and Yalobusha Counties
  5. Grenada Lake in Grenada, Calhoun, and Yalobusha Counties,
  6. Arkabutla Lake in Tate and Desoto Counties

In these waters active gear must remain in sight of the angler during daylight hours, but may be fished at night without attendance. All gear must be legibly marked with a tag. The tags shall be furnished by the angler and must contain all of the following information: angler’s full name and residence address including zip code. This information must be legibly written with either waterproof ink or stamped. Yo-yo tags shall be attached above the water line.

Crawfish and Freshwater Shrimp

A sport fishing license is required to harvest crawfish and freshwater shrimp from public waters for personal use. Shrimp and crawfish traps fished in public waters shall be marked with a waterproof tag provided by the angler, which shall contain the angler’s full name and customer ID number.

Crawfish traps are any device constructed of coated wire with openings of throats or flutes not exceeding 2 inches and are used for the sole purpose of taking crawfish. Crawfish traps are typically pillow or pyramid style with a minimum mesh size no smaller than ¾ inch by 11⁄16 inch.

Shrimp traps—It is illegal to take or attempt to take freshwater shrimp by the use of any trap which exceeds the following dimensions: 36 inches long (from the rear of the heart to the leading edge of the trap), by 24 inches wide (between the leading edges of the trap, or heart opening), by 12 inches high; or has external or unattached wings, weirs, or other devices intended to funnel shrimp to the trap heart.

Areas CLOSED to trotlines, throw lines, set hooks, limblines, FFFD’s, jugs and yo-yos:

  1. All State Park Lakes and State Fishing Lakes.
  2. The portion of Ross Barnett Reservoir north of the main dam and south of a line between the point where Twin Harbors channel enters the main lake under the Natchez Trace in Madison County and Fannin Landing boat ramp in Rankin County; also, within 100 yards from the shoreline of any residence on Pelahatchie Bay and within any marked navigational channel; also, within 100 yards of any sand bar or in any marked navigational channel between Hwy 43 and Ratliff Ferry.
  3. Sardis Lower Lake from the outlet structure to Spaulding Creek. FFFD’s are permitted in the Barrow Lake area
  4. Jamie L. Whitten Lock downstream to MS Hwy 4 overpass
  5. G.V. Sonny Montgomery Lock downstream to mile marker 406
  6. John Rankin Lock downstream to mile marker 398
  7. Fulton Lock downstream to MS Hwy 78 overpass
  8. Glover Wilkens Lock downstream to mile marker 375
  9. Amory Lock downstream to MS Hwy 6 overpass
  10. Aberdeen Lake spillway downstream to U.S. 45 overpass, including aux­iliary spillway and associated bank fishing access area in the Tombigbee River cutoff below the dam.
  11. Columbus Lake spillway downstream to Mile Marker 334, including auxiliary spillway and associated bank fishing access area in the Tombigbee River cutoff below the dam.
  12. All spillways listed in the Spillway Restrictions section.
  13. On Lake Washington limblines and set hooks may not be fished or set, but sportfishing trotlines, FFFD’s and Yo-Yos may be used.

SPILLWAY RESTRICTIONS

Special restrictions apply to spillways at the following lakes:

  1. Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, Sardis, Okatibbee, and Ross Barnett Reser­voirs from the spillway outlet to the end of the rip rap.
  2. Lowhead dam on Ross Barnett Res­ervoir from the dam to the end of the Idle Speed Only/No Wake Zone Area downstream of the dam.
  3. Bluff Lake spillway in Noxubee County.
  4. Aberdeen and Columbus spillways.

From December 1 until the last day of February anglers fishing these waters may use no more than one pole or rod per person (except those in the lowhead dam area of Ross Barnett Reservoir) with no more than 2 single hooks. Single hooks must be at least 1 inch apart and must be no larger than #2.

From March 1 to November 30 anglers may use no more than one pole or rod per person with no more than 2 single hooks of any size. Single hooks must be at least 1 inch apart.

Artificial lures with no more than 3 treble hooks no larger than #2 may be used year round.

The only other gear that may be used in these spillways is that permitted for collecting bait.

The use of bare or baited treble hooks is illegal in these spillway areas.

GRABBLING SEASON

Grabbling is open from May 1 to July 15. Grabbling is fishing for non-game fish, most notably catfish, with your hands or with rope (no attachments). Only wooden containers may be used. It is illegal to place and fish from structures such as plastic or metal barrels, hot water tanks, concrete pipe, tires, and other non-biodegradable materials in any public waters of the state. It shall be illegal to place any cavity-type structure, intended to be used for hand grabbling purposes, in all Mississippi water of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

It is unlawful to alter any natural areas by placing boards, wire or any other obstruction to logs, holes, etc., or to take fish from such altered devices. It is also unlawful to raise any part of a natural or wooden container out of the water thereby aiding in the capture of enclosed fish.

FISH ATTRACTORS

It shall be illegal to place structures such as plastic or metal barrels, plastic or metal pipes and tubing larger than 4 inches in diameter, hot water tanks, concrete pipes and tires, and any other nonbiodegradable material into the public waters of the state for use as fish attractors. However, wooden materials and plastic tubing and pipe materials may be used as fish attractors provided that the plastic materials are no larger than 4 inches in diameter. Concrete, rope, wire and nails may be used to make fish attractors. Written permission to place such legal fish attractor materials into public waters must be obtained from the federal or state agency which owns the specific water body. The person placing such fish attractor material into the public water must carry a copy of the written permission on them at all times when transporting and placing such material.

ILLEGAL FISHING METHODS

It is unlawful to take any fish species by muddying and by the use of lime, poi­son, explosives, electrical devices, wire baskets, fish traps, or dip nets; except that shad and minnows may be taken by resi­dents only as specified below under the Bait section. It is illegal to take fish from, tamper with or use any sport fishing gear without the consent of the gear’s owner. Conservation officers may seize any sport fishing gear determined to be unsafe or illegal.

It is unlawful to take game fish with minnow seines and to fail to return to the water any game fish taken by net, seine or other commercial fishing gear. No person shall stock, place, release, or cause to be released into any of the pub­lic waters of the state any aquatic species without first obtaining a permit from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

BAIT

Sport anglers may use game fish, non-game gross fish, goldfish and minnows for bait, as long as they were legally taken and you do not possess more than the daily creel limit. Anglers can harvest minnows for personal use as bait without a commercial fishing license. A freshwater commercial fishing license is required to sell minnows taken from public streams and rivers. No minnows caught in public waters shall be taken outside of the state for sale. Shad and minnows may be taken for sport fishing bait using dip/landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, and wire baskets by residents only for personal use during sport fishing. All game fish caught with these gears must be immediately returned to the water. Freshwater mussels cannot be collected or used for bait (State Law 49-9-5).

SALE OF GAME FISH

It is illegal for any person, while in Mississippi, to buy or sell, offer for sale, or exchange any game fish harvested in Mississippi or coming from another state. It is illegal for any restaurant or public eating establishment to possess or offer for sale any game fish. They may, however, prepare and serve fish for any person who has taken fish legally.

COMMERCIAL FISHING

It shall be illegal to possess while on the wa­ter, both commercial and sport fishing gear in the same boat. See the Commercial Fishing brochure for information and slat basket regulations or go to http://www.mdwfp.com/fishing-boating/freshwater-commercial.aspx

STATE BORDER WATERS

Mississippi resident licenses are valid for fishing certain state-line waters including:

  1. Pickwick Lake
  2. Aliceville Pool
  3. Mississippi and Pearl Rivers and border lakes along these rivers where they are the boundaries between Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

In Mississippi waters that border adjacent states, the legal number of jugs or free floating fishing devices shall be that of the adja­cent state or the Mississippi limit, whichever is greater, but not to exceed 50 Free Floating Fishing Devices (FFFD) by any individual.

Daily limits for bream, black bass, crappie, striped bass and striped bass hybrids in waters adjoining adjacent states shall be that of the adjacent state or the Mississippi limit, whichever is greater. Only 1 catfish over 34” may be harvested in border waters with Alabama and Tennessee.

For details on state border waters and current reciprocal agreements, inquire with Regional Offices, the Bureau of Fisheries, or visit our website, www.mdwfp.com

DAILY LIMIT

The daily limit is the specified maximum number of fish a person can take in one day.

TRANSPORT LIMIT

No person shall transport more than seven daily limits of game fish for each licensed or exempt angler present in the vehicle. A single angler may only transport his or her own limit(s) of fish, not to exceed seven (7) daily limits.

LENGTH LIMIT

Specific lengths that anglers are allowed to harvest are set in place. While fishing areas with established MDWFP length limits all game fish must be intact (with head, tail, skin and scales) and comply with length limits for that body of water.

MINIMUM LENGTH LIMIT

Fish measuring on or shorter than the regulated size length must be returned to the water immediately after capture and may not be possessed on designated waters. Fish exceeding the minimum length may be kept, not to exceed the daily limit.

MAXIMUM LENGTH LIMIT

Fish measuring on or longer than the regulated size length must be returned to the water immediately upon capture and may not be in possession on these designated waters. Fish shorter than the maximum length limit may be kept, not to exceed the daily limit.

SLOT LENGTH LIMIT

Fish measuring on or between the designated range in inches must be returned to the water immediately upon capture and may not be in possession on these designated waters. Fish shorter than or longer than the designated range may be kept, not to exceed the daily limit.

HOW TO MEASURE A FISH

Lay the fish on its side, with the mouth closed and the tail lobes pressed together. Measure the total length from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. Paddlefish are measured from the front of the eye to the fork of the tail.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

Return to the eregulations.com home page
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JF Griffin Media
J.F. Griffin Media reaches 9,000,000 sportsmen every year through our print and digital publications. We produce 30 hunting and fishing regulation guides for 15 state agencies. For advertising information, please visit: www.jfgriffin.com