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Georgia

Fishing

General Regulations

Freshwater Game Species Daily Limits

  • It is unlawful to take in one day or to possess at any one time, except at a residence or commercial storage facility, more than the daily limit for each species. It is unlawful to possess more than a total of 50 individuals of all the game fish listed in this section, except channel and flathead catfish. New: See Game Species Daily Limits for actual creel limits.
  • Once the daily limit for a particular species is taken, it is unlawful to continue to fish for that species.

Exception: Daily limits differ on certain waters shared by Georgia and South Carolina. See Agreements with Bordering States.

Seasons

There is no closed season for fishing in freshwater in Georgia except for the following:

  • Trout Seasons: All designated trout waters are now open year round.
  • Flint, Chattahoochee and Spring Creeks: The Flint River and its tributaries from the Georgia Power Co. dams at Albany to the US Hwy 84 bridge; the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries from the Columbia Lock and Dam to the GA Hwy 91 bridge; and Spring Creek and its tributaries downstream to GA Hwy 253 are CLOSED to striped bass fishing and spear fishing from May 1–October 31 each year.
  • Lakes Seminole: All fishing, including spear fishing, for any species in the marked areas around five fish refuges in Lake Seminole is prohibited from May 1–October 31 each year.
  • Coosa River: The season for taking lake sturgeon from the Coosa River and its tributaries is CLOSED. See GoFishGeorgia.com for more information on this closure and how to identify this fish.
  • Noodling or Grabbling: The season is open March 1–July 15 statewide in freshwater.

Length Limits

Note: There are no minimum length limits on freshwater game fish unless they are listed below. All lengths are Total Length (see "How to Measure Fish" in Finfish, Seasons, Limits and Sizes). You must release all fish shorter than the minimum length indicated for that species.

Largemouth Bass

12 inches statewide except:

  • Lake Blackshear: 14 inches
  • Lake Blue Ridge: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Burton: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Juliette: no minimum (0 inches)
  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches
  • Lake Oconee: 14 inches
  • Lake Lindsay Grace: bass between 15 and 22 inches must be released immediately. All others may be kept. In addition, only one bass may be greater than 22 inches.
  • Lake Walter F. George: 14 inches
  • West Point Reservoir: 14 inches
  • Public Fishing Area lakes operated by the Department of Natural Resources: 14 inches. This limit will not apply to lakes which have been posted as having a different length limit for largemouth bass.

Shoal Bass

  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches
  • Flint River and its tributaries (below Warwick Dam): 12 inches
  • Flint River and its tributaries (above Warwick Dam): 15 inches

Spotted Bass

  • Lake Lanier: 14 inches

Striped Bass, White Bass, & Hybrid White-Striped Bass

You may only keep two fish of the total limit that are 22 inches or longer, except:

  • See agreement with South Carolina (Agreements with Bordering States)
  • The minimum length for all fish is 22 inches on the North Newport River, Medway River including Mount Hope Creek, Little Ogeechee River, Ogeechee River; Oconee River downstream of GA Hwy 22 in Milledgeville; Ocmulgee River downstream of GA Hwy 96 bridge between Houston and Twiggs counties; Altamaha River, Saint Mary's River, Satilla River, and the tributaries to these river sections; and from saltwater.
  • The minimum length is 27 inches on the Savannah River and its tributaries downstream of J. Strom Thurmond Dam (2 fish limit).
  • See table in Game Species Daily Limits for full details.

Fishing Gear Must Be Regularly Checked

  • Attend to gear such as limb lines and minnow traps. (Anglers are encouraged to check all gear within 24 hours).
  • Make every reasonable effort to retrieve lost gear (including hooks, line and lead sinkers).
  • Recycle used fishing line.

Creel and Possession Note to Anglers

Creel and possession limits are per person. For Game Wardens to correctly determine compliance with these limits, each individual should keep trout or other fish on separate stringers or in separate creels. It is unlawful for one individual to possess more than the legal limit of any fish species.

Freshwater Turtles

Individuals may not possess more than 10 freshwater turtles (any combination of species) without a valid permit. There is no closed season for the harvest of freshwater turtles, however, taking of species protected by federal or state law is prohibited (for a list of species access: GeorgiaWildlife.com/species#reptiles). For more information on turtling regulations see GeorgiaWildlife.com/turtling.

Fishing on Wildlife Management Areas

Unless otherwise posted, fishing is allowed on WMAs according to statewide regulations. Alcohol use is prohibited on WMAs except in designated camping areas. Refer to the Hunting Regulations Guide for a complete list of WMA regulations.

Fishing Without Permission

It is unlawful to fish on someone else’s property without permission. Game Wardens and other law enforcement officers are charged with enforcing this law. Always ask permission before entering private land.

Permission is not required to fish in the Chattahoochee or Oconee National Forests, on Wildlife Resources Division Public Fishing Areas (PFAs) or Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), or in Georgia State Parks (gastateparks.org) as long as all applicable state regulations are followed.

Did You Know?

The Wildlife Resources Division fisheries staff maintain 11 Public Fishing Areas all across Georgia. Fish one today!

GeorgiaWildlife.com/allpfas

Commercial Fishing

  • It is unlawful to fish commercially except in waters opened for commercial fishing by regulation of the DNR Board.
  • It shall be unlawful to engage in commercial freshwater fishing without having all valid commercial fishing licenses.
  • It is unlawful for any person to sell or purchase any game fish, however American shad, hickory shad, channel catfish, and flathead catfish taken while commercial fishing may be sold as described in the Game and Fish Code.
  • For information on fish baskets, including usage, construction, and licensing contact the nearest Fisheries Section office or visit our website at GoFishGeorgia.com
  • For a complete copy of the freshwater commercial fishing regulations visit GoFishGeorgia.com
  • For saltwater commercial fishing information contact the Coastal Resources Division or visit CoastalGADNR.org

Sale of Fish & Aquaculture

Game Fish

It is unlawful for any person to sell or purchase any game fish except under the following conditions:

  • Game fish may be sold by properly licensed commercial fish hatcheries, wholesale and retail fish dealers, and pond owners (see following paragraph) who conform to the Game and Fish Code.
  • Game fish may be sold from a pond when the owner has obtained a valid permit from DNR Law Enforcement Section (2 weeks required to process). NOTE: The permit must be displayed at the pond and the fish must be packaged and labeled for transport from the pond with the permit number and the number and pounds of each species contained in the package. Fish must remain so packaged until processed or released into another pond. NOTE: A permit will be issued only once annually and limits the time for taking fish from the pond to 15 days.
  • Game fish shipped into Georgia may be lawfully transported, sold, and resold provided each person in possession of said game fish has an authentic bill of sale or lading which details the source of the fish and the species, number and pounds of the fish.

Domestic Fish

  • Aquaculturists (fish farmers) must register with the Department of Natural Resources in order to sell domestic fish.
  • Registration applications are available from any Fisheries Section office, at GoFishGeorgia.com, or by calling 770-918-6408. Find Aquaculture information under the Fishing Regulation section of the WRD website.
  • Domestic fish are lawfully obtained farmed fish which are held in confinement in private ponds, but only if they are fish species which are either indigenous to Georgia or have been recognized prior to 1992 as having an established population in public waters in Georgia. White perch is not recognized as a domestic fish. Persons in possession of domestic fish from registered aquaculturists must have an authentic bill of sale or lading which identifies the seller, the date of transaction and at least two of the following for each fish species: number, weight, or average length.