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Recreational Saltwater Fishing – Finfish

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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.

2015 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 Section)

American Plaice*

14 inches

American Shad

All shad must be immediately released

Atlantic Cod*


Effective May 1, 2015, all cod caught in New Hampshire waters must be immediately released.

Gulf of Maine Cod Spawning Protection Area; see 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


Sept. 1 – Oct. 31
Mar. 1 – April 30

17 inches

3 fish per day

  • Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 13 inches minimum
  • Effective May 1, 2015, size limit is 17 inches.


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

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.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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