Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation

Freshwater Fishing

Brought to you by:

Freshwater Fishing License Requirements

If you have questions about licenses, review the section at the beginning of this digest for license types, prices, and requirements or call (601) 432-2055. For information about saltwater fishing regulations call the Department of Marine Resources at (228) 374-5000. July 4th each year is also a free fishing day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can fish without a saltwater fishing license on July 4th in all areas where a saltwater fishing license is valid—south of Interstate 10 into the Gulf of Mexico. A freshwater fishing license is required to fish all waters north of Interstate 10 on July 4th. Go to for weekly fishing reports from February through November.

Fish Classifications

Miss. Code of 1972 defines game fish as: bream (redear, bluegill, longear, 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 are defined as: gizzard shad, threadfin shad, gar, eel, bowfin, common 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 Methods

Game fish may be taken only by hook and line (one or more hooks, including rod and reel with artificial bait). No more than a total of 100 single hooks may be fished on sport trotlines, throwlines, limblines and/or set hooks. Hooks must be tied securely at least 2 feet apart. Each person having a valid sport fishing license may use no more than 100 hooks per person.

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. 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.

On Eagle Lake in Warren County, Lake Washington in Washington County, Sardis Lake in Panola, Marshall, and Lafayette Counties, Enid Lake in Lafayette, Panola and Yalobusha Counties, Grenada Lake in Grenada, Calhoun, and Yalobusha Counties, and Arkabutla Lake in Tate and Desoto Counties, all Free Floating Fishing Devices (FFFD) and yo-yos must be legibly marked with a tag. The tags shall be furnished by the angler and must contain all of the following information: the angler’s full name, 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.

Active gear (yo-yos & FFFDs) must be attended on Eagle Lake, Lake Washington, Sardis Lake, Arkabutla Lake, Enid Lake, Grenada Lake, and borderline waters between Arkansas and Mississippi. Attended means devices must remain in sight of the angler during daylight hours. These devices may be fished at night without attendance.

It shall be illegal to possess on the water, both commercial and sportfishing gear in the same boat. It is unlawful to take fish from, tamper with or use any sportfishing gear without the consent of the gear’s owner.

Only buffalo, carp, gar, catfish, shad, and bowfin may be taken year-round using a bow and arrow and crossbow. Buffalo, carp, gar, and bowfin can be taken with a spear or gig. Catfish may be taken with a spear or gig from July 16-April 30. Catfish may not be taken with bow and arrow at State Fishing Lakes and State Park Lakes. Spear guns are illegal to use. Snagging for fish is allowed statewide.

Grabbling for non-game gross fish only by hand or with rope (no attachments) is permitted annually from May 1 to July 15. The use of grappling tongs or any hook is illegal when handgrabbling. 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 artificial device out of the water thereby aiding in the capture of enclosed fish. Only wooden containers may be used. It is unlawful to place 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. Any person grabbling for fish must have a valid sportfishing license. It shall be illegal to place any cavity-type structure, intended to be used for hand grabbing purposes, in all Mississippi water of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Fish caught by grabbling cannot be sold unless the angler also has a commercial fishing license.

All game fish must be intact (with head, tail, skin and scales) while fishing areas with established MDWFP length limits. Conservation officers may seize any sportfishing gear determined to be unsafe or illegal.

Illegal 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 net; except that shad and minnows may be taken by residents as specified below under the Bait section. 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. Conviction for violation of this law carries a fine of $2,000 – $5,000, five (5) days in jail and loss of hunting and fishing and trapping privileges for at least one (1) year.

Commercial Fishing

See the Commercial Fishing brochure for information and slat basket regulations.


Sport anglers may use game fish as 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 for personal use during sportfishing. All game fish caught with these gears must be immediately returned to the water.

Possession of Game Fish

No person shall take in any one day, more than the daily bag limit of game fish. No person by any means shall transport more than seven daily bag limits of game fish for each qualified angler present in the vehicle. An angler may only transport his or her own limit(s) of fish, not to ex-ceed seven daily bag limits.

Sale of Game Fish

It is unlawful for any person to buy or sell, offer for sale, or exchange any game fish taken within 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. However, they may prepare and serve game fish for any person who has taken the fish legally.

Restrictions On State Reservoir Spillways

Anglers fishing the waters listed beside the symbol m may use no more than 1 pole or rod per person (except those fishing 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 a #2 from December 1 until the last day of February. Anglers may use any size single hook the remaining days of the year. Artificial lures with no more than 3 treble hooks no larger than #2 may be fished year round. The use of bare or baited treble hooks is illegal. No other gear can be used in these waters except for the gear permitted for bait.

  • Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, Sardis, Okatibbee, and Ross Barnett Reservoirs from the spillway outlet to the end of the rip rap.
  • Bluff Lake spillway in Noxubee County.
  • 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.

Sport fishing trotlines, throw lines, set hooks, limblines, yo-yos and jugs may be fished in all waters EXCEPT:

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.

Sardis Lower Lake is closed to the use of these gears from the outlet structure to Spaulding Creek (Barrow Lake); however, FFFDs are permitted in the Barrow Lake area.

All state parks and state fishing lakes. All water body areas listed beside the symbol m and in the fishing section of this digest.

  • Bay Springs lock downstream to
    Mississippi Highway 4 overpass.
  • Lock “E” spillway downstream to Mile Marker 406.
  • Lock “D” spillway downstream to Mile Marker 398.
  • Lock “C” spillway downstream to Hwy 78 overpass.
  • Lock “B” spillway downstream to Mile Marker 375.
  • Lock “A” spillway downstream to Mississippi 6 overpass.
  • 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.
  • 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.

State Border Waters

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

Pickwick Lake, Aliceville Pool, Mississippi and Pearl Rivers and border lakes along these rivers where they are the boundaries between Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas. For details, inquire with Regional Offices, the Bureau of Fisheries, or visit our website,, for information on current reciprocal agreements.

Length Limit Regulations

11MSAB_FishMeasurement.jpgMinimum Length Limit – Fish on or less than the regulated size length in inches must be returned to the water immediately after capture and may not be in possession on designated waters. Fish over the minimum length limit size may be kept, not to exceed the daily limit.

Slot Length Limit - Fish on or between the designated range in inches must be returned to the water immediately upon capture and may not be in possession on designated waters. Fish shorter than the low end of the range and longer than the high end of the range may be kept, not to exceed the legal daily limit.

Maximum Length Limit – All fish on or longer than regulated size length must be returned to the water immediately upon capture and may not be in possession on designated waters. All fish less than the maximum length limit may be kept, not to exceed the daily limit.

For minimum length limits, slot limits, and maximum length limits, total length is measured using a flatboard with the mouth closed and tail squeezed together to give the maximum overall measurement.


Return to the home page
Brought to you by:
Conservation Partner Advertisements: The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, And Parks allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, And Parks Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC &, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, And Parks neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/ directly at 413-884-1001,
This is not the full law. Consult the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, And Parks for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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: