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Baitfish

Fishing Regulations New Jersey Freshwater Fishing

See separate regulations for Delaware River.
For marine waters, see the
New Jersey Marine Digest.

Baitfish Regulations

Baitfish Species

Baitfish species: golden shiner, banded killifish, mummichog, spotfin killifish, rainwater killifish, American brook lamprey, fathead minnow, bluntnose minnow, tadpole madtom, margined madtom, all shiners, daces, minnows, chubs and the American eel.

Season

Location

Minimum Size

Daily Limit

Open year round

Exception: In trout stocked waters baitfish may be taken only with hook and line: from April 4 to June 15, or in waters open to fishing during the pre-season closure, from March 16 to June 15.

Statewide
(freshwaters)

No minimum size

Exception
American eel:
6 inches

35 per day,
species combined

Herring,
Alewife and Blueback

All freshwater streams,
rivers and marine waters

CLOSED

Possession, take or attempt to take herring PROHIBITED

Freshwater lakes in Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren Counties; and Spruce Run Reservoir (Hunterdon)

6 inches maximum

35
Any unused herring must be returned to the water upon conclusion of the angler’s fishing trip. Herring may not be transported away from the shoreline of these lakes by any mechanism. They may not be sold.

All other freshwater lakes (regardless of ownership)

CLOSED

Only purchased herring, no greater than 6 inches, may be possessed. Receipt of purchase, dated within 7 days, must be in possession.

Notes: Any person with a valid fishing license (or those under 16 and residents 70 years or older) may take baitfish in fresh waters. Possession limit is one day’s limit, regardless of the intent to use these fish. Baitfish may be taken from the fresh waters of the state in numbers greater than 35 per day, in lakes over 250 acres, under a special permit issued by Fish and Wildlife at its discretion. Contact (908) 236-2118 for application information.

Gear

Gear Description

Seine

Not over 50 feet long in ponds and lakes over 100 acres; in all other waters not over
30 feet in length.

Exception: In trout-stocked waters and special regulation trout areas a seine may not be more than 10 feet in length and 4 feet in depth.

Minnow Trap

Not larger than 24 inches in length with a funnel mouth no greater than 2 inches in diameter.

Umbrella Net

No greater than 3.5 feet square.

Dip Net

Not more than 24 inches in diameter; may be used only for alewife or blueback herring.

Cast Net

No greater than 8 feet in diameter; may be used only in streams that are not trout-stocked or special regulation trout areas (may not be used in lakes).

Hook
and Line

Maximum of nine single hooks or three hooks with three burrs per contrivance on all waters except the Delaware River where only three single hooks are permitted.

Turtle and Frog Regulations

Species

Season

Location

Minimum Size

Daily Limit

Snapping Turtle

January 1–April 1
July 1–October 31

Statewide

12 inches

1 per day

Bull Frog and
Green Frog

January 1–March 31
July 1–December 31

Statewide

No minimum

15 per day,
combined

Means of Take

Snapping turtles may only be taken in fresh waters of the state. See established fishing license lines that designate between fresh and marine waters. Any person with a valid fishing license or those entitled to fish without a license may take snapping turtles, bull frogs, and green frogs by means of spears, traps, hook and line, dip nets (not more than 24 inches in diameter), or by hand. Snapping turtles may not be taken with a gun or bow and arrow. They may NOT be sold unless taken under a Commercial Harvest Permit. Snapping turtles, bull frogs, and green frogs may be taken in numbers greater than the daily limit under a Commercial Harvest Permit issued by Fish and Wildlife at its discretion. Contact (609) 984-0530 for application information.

Motor Boat Registration and Title Requirements

NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC)

Registration

Most boats must be registered to operate on New Jersey waterways.

  • All titled boats must be registered also.
  • Any boat (including jet skis and non-titled watercraft), mechanically propelled (incl. electric motors), regardless of length, must be registered.
  • Boats greater than 12 feet in length, regardless of propulsion means, must be titled and registered at an MVC office.

Boats and marine equipment which need not be registered:

  • Those not based in New Jersey or operating here less than 180 consecutive days that are operating under a federally-approved numbering system from another state
  • Ship’s lifeboats
  • Non-motorized vessels used exclusively on small lakes and ponds on private property
  • Racing vessels with New Jersey State Marine Police permit
  • Non-motorized inflatable device, surfboard, racing shell, dinghy, canoe or kayak
  • Non-motorized vessel less than 12 feet in length

Title

For use on New Jersey waterways, all boats more than 12 feet in length must be titled, with the exception of ship’s lifeboat, canoe, kayak, inflatable, surfboard, rowing scull, racing shell, tender/dinghy used for direct transportation between a vessel and shore for no other purposes.

Boat Operator License (MVC)

An operator license is required to operate power vessels on fresh, non-tidal waters such as lakes, creeks and rivers. (Minimum age 16 years; with certain exceptions.)

For More Information:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
(888) 486-3339 toll free in NJ or
(609) 292-6500 from out-of-state
www.nj.gov/mvc/

Boat Safety Certificate (NJSP)

A boat safety certificate (from an approved boat safety course; see NJSP website, below) is required to operate a personal watercraft or power vessel, including electric motors, in NJ waters (tidal and non-tidal).

New Jersey State Police (NJSP)

(609) 882-2000
www.njsp.org/marine-services/