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Warmwater Game Fish Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon North Carolina Hunting & Fishing

State waters are classified as: inland, joint and coastal (see “Gen­eral Information” on Inland Fishing Regulations). These state waters are collectively referred to as public fishing waters. Certain fishes, including large­mouth bass, crappie and mountain trout are designated inland game fish and under the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Resources Com­­mission in all public waters; whereas, some species, including striped bass, white and yellow perch, flounder and red drum, are desig­nated as inland game fish only in inland waters (see list on Inland Fishing Regulations).

Warmwater Game Fish

Location

Size Limit

Daily Creel Limit*

Black bass (including largemouth, smallmouth and spotted)
All public waters except those listed below 14-inch minimum, except 2 may be less than 14 inches 5 in combination, including only 2 less than 14 inches
In the following waters and their tributaries:

  • Currituck, Roanoke, Croatan, and Albemarle Sounds
  • Roanoke River downstream of Roanoke Rapids Dam
  • Chowan River (including the Meherrin River)
  • Yeopim River
  • Pasquotank River
  • Perquimans River
  • Little River
  • Big Flatty Creek
  • North River
  • Northwest River
  • Scuppernong River
  • Alligator River (including the Alligator/Pungo Canal (Intracoastal Waterway) east of the N.C. Hwy 264/45 bridge)
  • All other associated tributaries and canals to the waters listed above.
  • Pungo Lake (Washington and Hyde counties)
  • New Lake (Hyde Co.)
  • Lake Raleigh (Wake Co.)
  • Sutton Lake (New Hanover Co.)
14-inch minimum 5 in combination
In the following waters:

  • Buckhorn Reservoir (Wilson and Nash counties)
  • Cane Creek Lake (Union Co.)
16-inch minimum 5 in combination
Lake Mattamuskeet and associated canals (Hyde Co.) 16-inch minimum 5 in combination, including only 1 bass greater than 20 inches
Lake Thom-A-Lex (Davidson Co.) 18-inch minimum 5 in combination
In the following waters:

  • Shearon Harris Reservoir
  • Lake Hampton (Yadkin Co.)
14-inch minimum, except that 2 may be less than 14 inches and no bass between 16–20 inches may be possessed 5 in combination, including only 2 less than 14 inches
Lake Phelps 14-inch minimum and no bass between 16–20 inches may be possessed 5 in combination
New River (Alleghany Co. portion downstream of Fields Dam in Grayson Co., Va.) No minimum size and no bass between 14–22 inches may be possessed 5 in combination, including only 1 bass greater than 22 inches
Randleman Reservoir (Randolph and Guilford counties) 14-inch minimum, except that 2 may be less than 14 inches and only one may be greater than 20 inches 5 in combination, including only 2 less than 14 inches and only 1 greater than 20 inches
In the following waters:

  • Lake Cammack (Alamance Co.)
  • Lake Holt (Granville Co.)
No minimum size limit, and only 2 bass may be greater than 14 inches 10 in combination, including only 2 greater than 14 inches
Lake Santeetlah (Graham Co.) No minimum size limit, and only 5 bass may be greater than 14 inches No daily creel limit for bass less than 14 inches, and only 5 bass may be greater than 14 inches
Lake Chatuge (Clay Co.) 12-inch minimum size limit only for Largemouth Bass. No minimum size limit for Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. 10 in combination
Jean Guite Creek and associated canals within the Town of Southern Shores (Dare Co.) No bass may be possessed. No bass may be possessed.
Striped bass and Bodie bass (striped bass hybrid)

Inland impoundments and tributaries

Impounded inland waters and their tributaries except those listed below 20-inch minimum 4 in combination
In the following waters:

  • John H. Kerr Reservoir
  • Dan River (Caswell Co.), downstream of Danville, Va.
Oct. 1–May 31: 20-inch minimum

June 1–Sept. 30: No minimum size limit

Oct. 1–May 31: 2 in combination

June 1–Sept. 30: 4 in combination

Lake Gaston Oct. 1–May 31: 20-inch minimum

June 1–Sept. 30: No minimum size limit

4 in combination
Roanoke Rapids Reservoir
Lake Norman, Arrowhead Lake (Anson Co.), High Rock Pond (Caswell Co.), Moss Lake, Mountain Island Reservoir, Oak Hollow Lake, Lake Thom-A-Lex, Lake Townsend, and Salem Lake 16-inch minimum 4 in combination
Lake Chatuge (Clay Co.) No minimum size limit, and only 2 fish may be greater than 22 inches 15 in combination, including only 2 greater than 22 inches

Coastal Rivers and Impoundments

Roanoke River Striped Bass Management Area including:

  • Roanoke River from Roanoke Rapids Dam downstream to mouth of the river at Albemarle Sound and its tributaries
  • Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers and their tributaries
Season – March 1–April 30 (unless closed or extended by proclamation):

18-inch minimum, no fish between 22-27 inches

Season – March 1–April 30 (unless closed or extended by proclamation):

2 in combination including only 1 greater than 27 inches

Albemarle Sound Striped Bass Management Area (including Roanoke Sound, Croatan Sound, Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound and Chowan, Yeopim, Perquimans, Little, Pasquotank, North, Alligator and Scuppernong rivers and their tributaries) Established by Division of Marine Fisheries
Central-Southern Striped Bass Management Area, inland waters including:

  • Tar-Pamlico River and tributaries from Rocky Mount Mill Dam downstream to N&S Railroad Bridge at Washington
  • Neuse River and tributaries from Falls Lake Dam downstream to Pitchkettle Creek
  • Pungo River upstream of the US 264 bridge at Leechville
  • Cape Fear River and tributaries from Buckhorn Dam downstream to Lock and Dam #1
  • All other unlisted inland waters of coastal rivers and tributaries
No striped bass may be possessed.
Central-Southern Striped Bass Management Area, joint waters including:

  • Neuse River and tributaries from Pitchkettle Creek downstream to Southern Railroad Bridge at New Bern
  • Pungo River downstream of the US 264 bridge at Leechville to Smith Creek
  • Cape Fear River from Lock and Dam #1 downstream to the US 17-74-76 bridge at Wilmington
  • All other unlisted joint waters of coastal rivers and tributaries
No striped bass may be possessed.
Central-Southern Striped Bass Management Area, coastal waters including:

  • Tar-Pamlico River downstream of the N & S Railroad Bridge at Washington, including Pamlico Sound and tributaries designated as coastal waters
  • Neuse River downstream of Southern Railroad Bridge at New Bern, including Pamlico Sound and tributaries designated as coastal waters
  • Cape Fear River downstream of the US 17-74-76 bridge at Wilmington
  • Pungo River downstream of Smith Creek
  • All other unlisted coastal waters
Established by Division of Marine Fisheries
In the following waters:

  • Pee Dee River and tributaries downstream of Blewett Falls Dam
  • Lake Mattamuskeet
18-inch minimum 3 in combination
Sunfish (except species listed below)
All public fishing waters except those listed below None
In the following waters and their tributaries:

  • Roanoke River downstream of Roanoke Rapids Dam
  • Tar River downstream of Tar River Reservoir Dam
  • Neuse River downstream of Falls Lake Dam
  • Haw River downstream of Jordan Lake Dam
  • Deep River downstream of Lockville Dam
  • Cape Fear River
  • Waccamaw River downstream of Lake Waccamaw Dam, Lumber River, including Drowning Creek
  • All public waters east of I-95, except Tar River Reservoir (Nash Co.)
None 30 in combination, including no more than 12 redbreast sunfish
Crappie (black and white)
All public fishing waters except those listed below None
In the following waters and their tributaries:

  • Tar River downstream of Tar River Reservoir Dam
  • Neuse River downstream of Falls Lake Dam
  • Haw River downstream of Jordan Lake Dam
  • Deep River downstream of Lockville Dam
  • Cape Fear River
  • Waccamaw River downstream of Lake Waccamaw Dam
  • Lumber River, including Drowning Creek
  • All other public waters east of I-95, except Tar River Reservoir (Nash Co.), Sutton Lake (New Hanover Co.) and Roanoke River (see below)
  • Badin Lake, Falls Lake (Stanly and Montgomery counties), Lake Tillery, and Blewett Falls Lake
  • Pee Dee River from Blewett Falls Lake Dam to the South Carolina state line
  • Lake Norman, Lake Hyco, Lake Ramseur, and Cane Creek Lake
  • All public waters west of I-77
  • Lake Hampton (Yadkin Co.)
8-inch minimum 20 in combination
John H. Kerr Reservoir 9-inch minimum 25 in combination
B. Everett Jordan Reservoir 10-inch minimum 20 in combination
Roanoke River (downstream of Roanoke Rapids Dam), Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers and their tributaries
Lake Mattamuskeet and associated canals (Hyde Co.)
Buckhorn Reservoir (Wilson and Nash counties) None 20 in combination
Lake Chatuge (Clay Co.) None 30 in combination
Rock bass and Roanoke bass
All public fishing waters except those listed below None
All public waters east of I-77 8-inch minimum 2 in combination
White bass
All inland fishing waters 14-inch minimum 10
White Perch
All inland fishing waters except those listed below None None
All public fishing waters in and west of Haywood, Buncombe and Rutherford counties No live white perch may be possessed, transported or released.
American and hickory shad
All inland fishing waters except those listed below None 10 in combination, including no more than 1 American shad
Cape Fear River and its tributaries None 10 in combination, including no more than 5 American shad
Tar-Pamlico River, Pungo River, Pee Dee River, and their tributaries None 10 in combination
Lake Gaston No American shad may be possessed
Roanoke Rapids Reservoir
John H. Kerr Reservoir
Spotted sea trout, flounder, and red drum
All inland fishing waters Same as those recreational limits established by Division of Marine Fisheries in adjacent joint and coastal fishing waters. For current limits, visit portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-fishing-size-and-bag-limits or call 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632.
Walleye
All public fishing waters except those listed below None 8
Lake James and tributaries 15-inch minimum 8
Linville River upstream from N.C. 126 bridge None 4
Lake Gaston 18-inch minimum 5
Roanoke Rapids Reservoir
John H. Kerr Reservoir
Muskellunge
All public fishing waters 42-inch minimum 1
Sauger
All public fishing waters 15-inch minimum 8
Kokanee salmon
All public fishing waters None 7
All other warmwater game fishes
All public fishing waters None