Common Fishing Questions
Answers to Common Questions about Fishing in Indiana
Here are answers to some of the common questions the Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) receives about fishing. Our district fisheries biologists are available to answer other questions throughout the year. Their contact information is on Indiana Contact Lists.
Do I need a license to fish in Indiana?
In general, anyone over the age of 17 needs a license to fish on public water in Indiana. A list of exemptions is on Fishing Licenses & Fees. The sale of fishing licenses helps fund DFW and DNR Law Enforcement so we can help provide fishing opportunities for years to come.
Where can I fish in Indiana?
Indiana is home to many rivers, lakes, and creeks that are great for fishing. Visit on.IN.gov/Where2Fish to find public fishing spots near you.
I want to go fishing for a specific species, like walleye or Northern pike. How can I find bodies of water with different species?
Visit fishing.IN.gov for species-specific information, maps, and a list of possible sites. On the Where to Fish map, you can click on a site to see what sport fish are common at that location.
Where and when are fish stocked in lakes, rivers, and streams in Indiana?
We stock fish to improve fishing quality, provide additional fishing opportunities, or restore a population. Fish are stocked if the environment can support the stocked fish, there are minimal impacts to Indiana-native fish, and stocking will achieve management objectives.
There are normally about 400 stockings a year. These include 14 species, among which are trout, salmon, walleye, largemouth bass, muskie, hybrid striped bass, striped bass, and channel catfish. The number and size of stocked fish is based on management recommendations from the district fisheries biologist. Visit fishing.IN.gov and click on fish stocking to see when and where fish are stocked.
What should I do if I catch an exotic fish like an invasive carp?
If you catch an invasive carp like a silver or bighead carp or any other exotic fish species, immediately kill the fish. Do not release it back into the water alive. If you wish to keep the fish, one of the following must be done: (1) remove the head, (2) remove the gill arches from at least one side, or (3) gut the fish.
How are size and bag limits created?
Size and bag limits protect several fish species. Before a fishing regulation is proposed by DFW, staff study potential biological and social impacts. Fishing regulations are listed in Indiana Administrative Code (312 IAC 9) and must pass review and approval by the Natural Resources Commission, which includes a public input process, as well as the State Budget Agency and Attorney General’s office. Regulations are normally reviewed once every two years. A temporary rule can be signed by the DNR director in emergency situations such as to protect a fish population or increase the bag limit in a lake or pond where the water is lowered and fish need to be removed.
Are fish in Indiana safe to eat?
Fish are a good source of protein, low in saturated fat, and a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. In Indiana, fish are generally safe to eat by following these simple guidelines: eat smaller fish such as bluegill and crappie; avoid large predator and bottom-feeding fish; remove fat when cleaning; and broil or grill fish. Visit IN.gov/isdh/FCA for more extensive information on fish consumption guidelines.
I saw a lot of dead fish in a body of water. What caused that?
The most frequent cause of fish kills in Indiana is a lack of oxygen in the water, not a chemical or pollutant spill. Low oxygen levels occur when aquatic plants do not produce enough oxygen for fish to breathe. This may occur when bodies of water ice over with heavy snow, when many plants die suddenly (including microscopic algae), or for other natural reasons. Proper aquatic vegetation management and the use of aerators can reduce the likelihood of fish kills.