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Recreational Saltwater Fishing – Finfish

Recreational saltwater fishing in New Hampshire provides diverse opportunities. Saltwater anglers can cast a line from boats, bridges, jetties or the beach. Many saltwater fish species are available along the coast and in our rivers and bays. Recreational saltwater fishing in N.H. requires a recreational saltwater license. See Recreational Licenses for details.

Below are species that have rules or laws that apply to recreational anglers or spearfishers while fishing in state waters.

Additional regulations apply in federal waters for most of the below-listed species — contact NOAA Fisheries at (978) 281-9315 or directly if you have questions regarding fishing in federal waters.

2016 New Hampshire Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations


Closed Season

Minimum Length

Daily Bag Limit

Special Rules

American Eel

No closed season (except surrounding fishways)

9 inches

25 fish per day

Fishway closures apply October 2 – June 14
(see Coastal Harvest)

American Plaice*

14 inches

American Shad

All shad must be immediately released

Atlantic Cod*

Oct. 1 – July 31 24 inches


See Gulf of Maine Cod Spawning Protection Area map

Atlantic Halibut

41 inches

1 fish per trip/vessel

Head and tail intact while on or leaving waters of the state

Atlantic Sea Herring

Federal regulations apply in federal waters

Atlantic Salmon
(Sea-run )

All sea-run Atlantic salmon caught on coastal and estuarine waters must be immediately released

Atlantic Wolffish

Possession is prohibited

Black Sea Bass

13 inches

10 fish per day

Length does not include filament/tail extension

Bluefin Tuna

Federally managed — follow federal regulations (call 1-888-USA-TUNA) or visit


10 fish per day

Dogfish, Spiny

Finning prohibited


Mar. 1-April 14

17 inches

15 fish per day

  • Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 10 inches minimum


17 inches


19 inches, if taken in federal waters

Rainbow Smelt (Saltwater)

4 liquid quarts

Head and tail must remain intact


9 inches

River Herring
Blueback Herring)

Closed sunrise Wednesday – sunrise Thursday

See Squamscott River in Special River Restrictions.

See Special River Restrictions and Coastal Harvest Section. Fishing prohibited around fishway closure areas Oyster and Taylor rivers closed

Salters (Sea-run Trout)
see Definitions

No closed season

1 fish per day

  • Recreational angling only
  • In Berry Brook: Single-hook artificial lures and flies only.
  • In Winnicut River: The salter daily limit applies only downstream of the B&M Railroad bridge

Sharks —
Blue, Porbeagle, Shortfin Mako and Thresher

  • Porbeagle — recreational fishing in state waters only
  • All sharks — head, fins and tail must remain attached through landing

Striped Bass

28 inches

1 fish per day

  • Head and tail must remain intact while on or leaving state waters or shores (no fillets); Gaffing is prohibited; No sale allowed, regardless of origin


Closed year round

Possession is prohibited

Summer Flounder*

15 inches

Recreational angling only; No sale allowed

White Perch

25 fish per day

Sale is prohibited

Winter Flounder*

12 inches

8 fish per day

Yellowtail Flounder*

13 inches

*All groundfish species that are filleted and skinned must retain at least 2 square inches of contiguous skin intact for identification purposes.

About This Publication

This publication is a summary of fishing regulations. It is not the full laws or rules. It is intended only as a guide to seasons and other necessary marine information. For more detailed information concerning regulations, consult the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Book, Fish and Game Administrative Rules, or contact your local Conservation Officer. Fish and Game laws and rules may be viewed at any Fish and Game office (see Contact Information for phone numbers); Legislative Services, Administrative Rules, in the State House Annex, 25 Capitol St., Room 219, Concord, NH 03301; and at or A compendium of Fish and Game laws may also be purchased at Department headquarters in Concord for $41.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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