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Recreational Finfish Regulations

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 NH now requires a recreational saltwater license.

Below are species that have rules or laws that apply to recreational anglers or spearfishers.


2011 New Hampshire Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations


Closed Season

Minimum Length

Daily Bag Limit

Special Rules

American Eel

No closed season (except surrounding fishways)

6 inches

50 fish per day

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

American Plaice*

14 inches

American Shad

2 fish per day

Recreational angling only

Atlantic Cod*

Nov. 1 – April 15

24 inches

10 fish per day

Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 14 inches minimum; Additional federal regulations apply in federal waters

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 )

15 inches

2 fish per day

Recreational angling only; Snagging (foul-hooking) not allowed

Atlantic Wolffish

Possession is prohibited

Bluefin Tuna

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


10 fish per day

Dogfish, Spiny

Finning prohibited


18 inches

Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 12 inches minimum; Federal regulations apply beyond state waters


17 inches


19 inches, if taken in federal waters

Rainbow Smelt (Saltwater)

10 liquid quarts

Head and tail must remain intact


9 inches

Additional federal regulations apply in federal waters

River Herring
Blueback Herring)

Closed every Wednesday

See Squamscott River in Special River Restrictions.

Fishing prohibited around fishway closure areas (see Special River Restrictions and Coastal Harvest Section)

(Sea-Run Trout)

No closed season (except Berry Brook)

1 fish per day

  • Recreational angling only
  • In Berry Brook: Single-hook artificial lures and flies only; Open only August 15 – March 1, inland of, but not including, the Bracket Road bridge to the beginning of the prominent large rock area upstream. Note: Prominent large rock area to Sagamore Rd Bridge is closed year round
  • 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
  • Additional federal regulations apply in federal waters (call 1-978-281-9315)

Striped Bass

28 inches

2 fish per day
(only 1 fish larger than 40 inches)

Head and tail must remain intact while on or leaving state waters or shores; 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

Winter Flounder*

May 15–24

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.


Visit N.H. Fish & Game’s website.

  • Buy your N.H. fishing license online; download the Saltwater Fishing Digest; sign up for fishing reports; and much more!

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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