Summary of Fishing Regulations
New Jersey Freshwater Fishing
Summary of General Fishing Regulations
The season, size and creel limits for freshwater species apply to all waters of the state, including tidal waters.
- Fish may be taken only in the manner known as angling with handline or with rod and line, or as otherwise allowed by law.
- When fishing from the shoreline, no more than three fishing rods, handlines or combination thereof may be used (except on the Delaware River. There is no rod limit when fishing from a boat except for the Delaware River.) For the Delaware River the three rod limit applies both to boat and shoreline anglers (see Delaware River).
- Only one daily creel of any fish species may be in possession. Additional fish may be caught once the creel is reached if immediately returned to the water unharmed.
- Separate stringers or buckets must be used for each angler’s catch.
- Boats may contain only the combined daily creel limit for each legal angler on board.
- A fishing license does not authorize trespass on private property. Permission first must be obtained from the landowner.
It Is Unlawful To:
- Fish within 100 feet (or as posted) of any fish ladder entrance or exit from March 1 through June 30.
- Spear fish in fresh waters. See exception for Delaware River.
- Possess a fishing device with more than nine hooks in total, or more than three treble hooks, except for the Delaware River; see Delaware River.
- Use set lines.
- Use cast nets in freshwater lakes or trout stocked waters. See Baitfish for other exclusions.
- Foul hook or snag any species of fish. This does not apply to fish taken through the ice.
Bow and Arrow Fishing
Carp (including bighead, common and grass), eels, flathead catfish, American shad (Delaware River only), gizzard shad, snakeheads and suckers or hybrids of these species—may be taken at any time by use of a bow and arrow (with a line attached to the arrow) when in possession of a valid fishing license. Crossbows may be used when bowfishing except for Greenwood Lake. Crossbows must have a stock length of at least 25 inches, a minimum draw pull weight of 75 pounds and a working safety. Crossbows must be uncocked during transport or when not actively fishing. They may not be permanently mounted. Anglers should be aware that some municipalities have banned the discharge of bow and arrow, tethered arrow or not. As such, anglers are strongly urged to check with the waterbody owner and/or individual municipality prior to engaging in bowfishing. See regulations for the Delaware River and Greenwood Lake.
It is illegal to fish or attempt to catch or kill fish by any manner or means in any waters for which the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, upon approval by the Fish and Game Council, issues an emergency closure notice. Such notification is effective and/or rescinded immediately upon public notification. Emergency closures shall be based upon imminent threat to the well-being of the fishery resources, and/or its users, and may include any exceptions to the total ban of fishing that the Director deems practical.
No more than five devices may be used when fishing through the ice. The devices that may be used are:
- Ice supported tip-ups or lines with one single pointed hook attached, or one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to shaft;
- An artificial jigging lure with not more than one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to point;
- An artificial jigging lure with not more than three single hooks measuring not more than ½-inch from point to shaft;
- An artificial jigging lure with a combination of the hook limitations described in 2 and 3 above.
Natural bait may be used on the hooks of the artificial jigging lures. All devices that are not hand-held must bear the name and address of the user and cannot be left unattended.
See separate regulations for trout-stocked waters and Greenwood Lake.
Potentially Dangerous Fish
The possession or release of live, potentially dangerous fish is prohibited. These species (see Aquatic Invasive Species) include Asian swamp eel, bighead, grass (diploid) and silver carp, brook stickleback, green sunfish, flathead catfish, oriental weatherfish, snakehead and warmouth. Anglers MUST destroy these species if encountered while fishing and should submit specimen(s) or photos to a Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries biologist for verification. To reach a biologist, call (908) 236-2118 for north Jersey or (609) 259-6964 for central Jersey or (856) 629-4950 for south Jersey. These non-native species are likely to cause environmental harm to the state’s fisheries resources by outcompeting preferred game fish species. Common carp are an invasive species but are NOT classified as a potentially dangerous fish and do not have to be destroyed.
Sale of Fish
It is illegal to sell any freshwater fish species except under commercial permits as prescribed in the Fish Code. Artificially-propagated trout, if properly tagged, may be sold for food purposes.
A permit is required to stock fish or fish eggs into any waters of the state, public or private, at any time. An application may be obtained by contacting the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118. It is ILLEGAL to stock carp or koi into any waters. No trout may be used as bait or stocked within the PEQUEST RIVER DRAINAGE except by the Pequest Trout Hatchery.
No person may tag or mark and then release a fish without first obtaining a fish stocking permit or by special permit issued by Fish and Wildlife. Contact the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118 for application information.
Waste of Fish
Fish of any species which are purposely killed become part of the angler’s daily limit and must be removed from the waters from which they were taken, then either used or otherwise disposed of properly.
Water Supply Reservoirs Open To Fishing By Permit Only
|Permits must be obtained from the specific reservoir owner listed below. A valid fishing license is also required.|
Type of Fishing
Boat & Shoreline
Newark Watershed reservoir permits
City of Newark
Oak Ridge Reservoir
United Water Company
Suez Watershed Application
Lake Tappan Reservoir
North Jersey Fisheries Forum
January 18, 2020; 10 a.m., Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery
South Jersey Fisheries Forum
February 22, 2020; 10 a.m.,
Batsto Village Visitor’s Center in Wharton State Forest
February 29, 2020; 10 a.m., Pequest Trout Hatchery
Come and share your views and recommendations for the future of freshwater fisheries in New Jersey and learn about current research, management and fish culture activities!
The forum at Hackettstown will include a tour of the fish production facilities.
For more information or to pre-register (helpful, but not required) please call (908) 236-2118 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails should include name, address, phone number and number of people attending.
Presented by NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. Go to www.njfishandwildlife.com/bfwf_forums.htm for updates.