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Freshwater Fishing in Mississippi

Hunting Regulations Icon Mississippi Hunting & Fishing

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, 19 state fishing lakes, 20 state park lakes and 15 community fishing 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 3 & 4, 2017, 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 Gig are allowed for the harvest of the following non-game gross fishes: bowfin, buffalo, carp, catfish, gar, and shad. Catfish may not be taken by bow and arrow, crossbow, spear or gig at State Fishing Lakes and State Park Lakes. Catfish may not be taken with spear or gig from May 1 through July 15. No other species of fish may be harvested with these gears.

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

In these waters, attended means devices (whether set, baited, or tripped) must remain in sight of the angler during daylight hours. These devices may be fished at night without attendance except at Lake Washington where attendance at night is required. At Lake Washington, yo-yos may only be unattended (tripped, with hook out of the water) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Unattended yo-yos fishing during the day at the waters listed above and fishing at night at Lake Washington may be seized by MDWFP Law Enforcement officers except for those fishing unattended at Lake Washington from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In these waters, 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 (unless exempt by 49-7-9) 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. Any commercially available crawfish trap with openings of the throats or flutes not exceeding 2 inches may be used.

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. 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.
  2. All spillways listed in the Spillway Restrictions section.
  3. All State Park Lakes and State Fishing Lakes.
  4. Amory Lock downstream to MS Hwy 6 overpass.
  5. 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.
  6. Fulton Lock downstream to MS Hwy 78 overpass.
  7. G.V. Sonny Montgomery Lock downstream to mile marker 406.
  8. Glover Wilkens Lock downstream to mile marker 375
  9. Jamie L. Whitten Lock downstream to MS Hwy 4 overpass.
  10. John Rankin Lock downstream to mile marker 398.
  11. Lake Washington: Limblines and set hooks may not be fished or set, but sportfishing trotlines, FFFD’s and yo-yos may be used.
  12. Ross Barnett Reservoir: Pelahatchie Bay, Pelahatchie Creek, and the area of the reservoir north of the main dam and south of a line between the point where Twin Harbors channel enters the main lake at Madison County and the Fannin Landing boat launch in Rankin County; within 100 yards of any sandbar or public boat launching facility within the main lake or river; in any marked navigational channel between State Highway 43 and Ratliff Ferry in Madison County.
  13. Sardis Lower Lake from the outlet structure to Spaulding Creek, except that FFFD’s are permitted in Sardis Lower Lake.

SPILLWAY RESTRICTIONS

Special restrictions apply to spillways at the following lakes:

  1. Aberdeen and Columbus spillways.
  2. Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, Sardis, Okatibbee, and Ross Barnett Reser­voirs from the spillway outlet to the end of the rip rap.
  3. Bluff Lake spillway in Noxubee County.
  4. 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.

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. Minnow seines and minnow traps can be used to harvest minnows, nongame gross fish, and nongame fish for bait. Minnow seines must be no more than 25 feet in length and 4 feet in depth. Minnow traps shall be constructed of glass, plastic, nonmetallic, or wire mesh not more than 32 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter without leads or wings and having an entrance no larger than 1 inch in diameter. 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 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 FFFDs shall be that of the adja­cent state or the Mississippi limit, whichever is greater, but not to exceed 50 per individual. Yo-yos and FFFDs must be attended during daylight hours on borderline waters between Arkansas and Mississippi.

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 Fisheries Bureau, or visit our website, www.mdwfp.com

PUBLIC WATERWAYS

Public waterways are defined in Miss. Code Ann. §51-1-4, and set forth on a map at www.deq.state.ms.us/mdeq.nsf/page/L&W_pub_waterways?OpenDocument by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. All citizens of the state of Mississippi and other states, have the right to use the public waterways for free transport, fishing, and water sports. Any person using the public waters of the state does not entitle that person to trespass upon any lands adjacent to the stream or waterway. No person using the public waterways may harm or disturb the banks or bed of the stream, nor may any person hunt, fish, or go across any adjacent lands under floodwaters outside the natural banks of the waterway. The right of the public to use the public waterways does not include the use of motorized vehicles (ATVs, trucks, etc.) on the streambed. Exceptions to this prohibition are set forth in Miss. Code Ann. §51-1-4.

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.

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.

Total Length (using a flatboard)

MINIMUM LENGTH LIMIT

Fish measuring equal to 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 equal to 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 equal to 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.

Statewide Creel and Size Limits

For Saltwater Fishing Regulations, call the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources at 228-374-5000 or visit www.dmr.ms.gov

Species Creel Limits

Alligator Gar**** 2

Paddlefish* (must be less than 30 inches) 2

Striped Bass and/or Striped Bass Hybrids (Minimum length 15 inches)** 6

Walleye*** 3

Sauger 10

Crappie** (combined white and black) 30

Bluegill, Bream and all other sunfish (combined)** 100

Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted bass combined** 10

Sturgeon 0

* No paddlefish harvest allowed in the Tenn-Tom Waterway, Tombigbee River or its tributaries, and Pickwick Lake. Paddlefish are measured from the front of the eye to the fork of the tail.

** Daily limits for bream, black bass (largemouth, spotted and smallmouth), 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.

*** Harvest and possession of walleye is prohibited in Lake Lamar Bruce, Spring Lake in Wall Doxey State Park, and in the Old Tombigbee River and its tributaries north of Hwy 278 (Monroe, Itawamba and Prentiss Counties)

**** No alligator gar harvest allowed from Bee Lake (Holmes County)

On all other lakes, there is no length limit for any species except striped bass and/or hybrids but the statewide daily creel limits apply.

Special Largemouth, Spotted & Smallmouth Bass Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Aberdeen Lake 14 inches & under 10 per day

Calling Panther Lake 20 inches & over 10 per day, 1 over 20″

Charlie Capps WMA Lake No Length Limit 5 per day

Columbus Lake 14 inches & under 10 per day

Davis Lake (Chickasaw County) 18-22 inches 10 per day; 1 over 22”

Eagle Lake
(includes channel to Muddy Bayou water control structure) 16 inches & under 10 per day

Lake Bill Waller 18-22 inches 15 per day, 1 over 22″

Lake Bogue Homa 15 inches & under 5 per day

Lake Bolivar (Scott, MS) No Length Limit 2 per day

Lake Claude Bennett No Length Limit 30 per day

Lake Columbia 14-18 inches 5 per day, 1 over 18″

Lake Jackson (Washington County) No Length Limit 5 per day

Lake Jeff Davis……………………………………………………………………….18-24 inches………………………………………………………..15 per day, 1 over 24”

Lake Lamar Bruce 16-22 inches 10 per day, 1 over 22”

Lake Mary Crawford No Length Limit 30 per day

Lake Okhissa (Franklin County) 18-22 inches 10 per day, 1 over 22″

Lake Tom Bailey 15 inches & under 5 per day, 1 over 20″

Lake Washington
(includes outlet channel to weir at Paul Love Park) 15 inches & under 5 per day, 2 under 15″

Leroy Percy State Park Lake No Length Limit 5 per day

Little Eagle Lake (Humphreys County) 12 inches & under 5 per day

Lowndes State Park Lake No Length Limit 30 per day

Malmaison WMA Lakes 15 inches & under 2 per day

Moon Lake (includes area east of Hwy 1) No Length Limit 5 per day

Natchez State Park Lake 18-22 inches 7 per day, 1 over 22″

Neshoba County Lake 16-20 inches 10 per day, 1 over 20″

North Abutment Campground Lake at Grenada Reservoir 15 inches & under 2 per day

Pascagoula River 12 inches & under 10 per day

(George & Jackson Counties, Merrill, MS to Hwy 90 bridge, includes all connected oxbow lakes; East & West Pascagoula Rivers and all waters between these two rivers)

Paul B. Johnson State Park Lake (Geiger Lake) 18-22 inches 10 per day, 1 over 22″

Percy Quin State Park (Lake Tangipahoa – opens 9/21/2016) 16-22 inches 7 per day, 1 over 22”

Pickwick Lake 15 inches & under 10 per day

RecCon Lake (Bolivar County) No Length Limit 2 per day

Ross Barnett Reservoir 14 inches & under 7 per day

Tippah County Lake No Length Limit 30 per day

Tombigbee State Park Lake No Length Limit 30 per day

Wolf-Broad Lake (Yazoo & Humphreys Counties) 12 inches & under 5 per day

Special Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Ross Barnett Dam to City of Jackson water intake 15 inches & under 6 per day, 1 over 24″

Special Bluegill & Redear Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Lake Okhissa (Franklin County) No Length Limit 50 per day

Percy Quin State Park (Lake Tangipahoa – opens 9/21/2016) No Length 50 per day

Special Catfish Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Lake Okhissa (Franklin County) No Length Limit 5 per day

RecCon Lake (Bolivar County) No Length Limit 10 per day

All MDWFP State Fishing Lakes and State Parks Lakes No Length Limit 10 per day

Border Waters w/ Alabama & Tennessee No Length Limit 1 over 34″, no creel limit under 34″

Special Walleye Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Davis Lake (Chickasaw County) No Length Limit 1 per day

Special Black & White Crappie Regulations

Area/Water Lengths to Release Creel Limits

Arkabutla Reservoir+ 12 inches & under 15 per day

Arkabutla Spillway to Prichard Rd. Bridge++ No Length Limit 15 per day

Charlie Capps WMA Lake No Length Limit 20 per day

Eagle Lake (includes channel to Muddy Bayou
water control structure) 11 inches and under 30 per day

Enid Reservoir+ 12 inches & under 15 per day

Enid Spillway to I-55++ No Length Limit 15 per day

Grenada Reservoir+ 12 inches & under 15 per day

Grenada Spillway to Hwy. 51++ No Length Limit 15 per day

Lake Okhissa (Franklin County) 10 inches & under 10 per day

Lake Washington

(includes outlet channel to weir at Paul Love Park) 11 inches & under 30 per day, 5 under 11”

Moon Lake (includes area east of Hwy 1) 10 inches & under 30 per day, 5 under 10″

Percy Quin State Park (Lake Tangipahoa – Opens 9/21/2016) No Length Limit 20 per day

Pickwick Lake & Tenn-Tom Waterway 9 inches & under 30 per day

(including all tributaries)

Sardis Reservoir+ 12 inches & under 15 per day

Sardis Spillway & Sardis Lower Lake to Spaulding Creek++ No Length Limit 15 per day

+ At Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada and Sardis Reservoirs anglers may fish no more than 4 poles per person. Each pole may have no more than 2 hooks or lures. The aggregate daily boat creel limit for all species of crappie on Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis, and Grenada Reservoirs for boats with three or more anglers shall be 40 crappie larger than 12 inches.

++ See spillway restrictions in this section.

On all other lakes, there is no length limit for any species except striped bass and/or hybrids but the statewide daily creel limits apply.