Explanation of Saltwater Limits
1 Red Drum (Redfish) and Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)
Recreational saltwater anglers may possess a two days’ bag limit on land; however, no person shall be in possession of fish over the daily bag limit in any one day or while fishing or while on the water, unless that recreational saltwater angler is aboard a trawler engaged in commercial fishing for a consecutive period of longer than 25 hours. Take or possession of red drum in federal waters is prohibited.
The possession limit for red drum and spotted seatrout taken south of U.S. Hwy 90 shall be three times the daily take limit when the fisherman holds and is in possession of a valid recreational fishing license and can show a landing receipt from a public boat launch located south of U.S. Hwy 90 that demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that the fisherman has been actively on the water or at a remote camp that can be accessed only by water for two days or more. The fish shall be kept whole or whole gutted in separate bags for each species of fish. The bags shall be marked with the date the fish were taken, the species, the number of fish contained in the bag, and the name and license number of the person taking the fish. The fish shall only be in the possession of the person who took the fish. However, no fisherman shall be actively fishing or engaged in fishing while in possession of more than the daily take limit.
2 Off-water Bag Limit
Two days’ bag limit allowed in possession off of the water, not while fishing or in a boat except as mentioned above in relation to south of U.S. Hwy 90.
3 Charter Vessels & Headboats
Two-day limit allowed in possession only on charter vessels and headboats on multi day trips, if the vessels have two licensed operators, as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and if each angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
4 Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)
12-inch minimum total length, 25 fish per person daily bag limit. EXCEPT: 15 fish daily bag and possession limit, with no more than two spotted seatrout exceeding 25 inches total length, regardless of where taken in a defined area of Cameron and Calcasieu parishes located in southwestern Louisiana. The defined area, including coastal territorial waters, is as follows: south of Interstate 10 from its junction at the Texas-Louisiana boundary eastward to its junction with Louisiana Highway 171, south to Highway 14, south to Holmwood, and then south on Highway 27 through Gibbstown, south to Louisiana Highway 82 at Creole and south on Highway 82 to Oak Grove, then due south to the western shore of the Mermentau River, following this shoreline south to the junction with the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south to the limit of the state territorial sea. Under the authority of the provisions of R. S. 56:325.1(A), the daily bag and possession limit shall be 15 fish, regardless of where taken, with no more than two spotted seatrout exceeding 25 inches total length. Those spotted seatrout exceeding 25 inches in length shall be considered as part of the daily recreational bag and possession limit.
5 Highly Migratory Species
An HMS Permit is required for all owners/operator of vessels in the Gulf of Mexico fishing for and/or retaining the HMS regulated species of tunas, billfishes, swordfish and sharks. The Atlantic HMS Permits will be valid from the date of issuance through Dec. 31, 2021. The permit fee is $20. NOTE: This permit requires the reporting of all recreationally caught swordfish, billfish, and bluefin tuna within 24 hours of landing that species, please see hmspermits.noaa.gov/catchReports for more details.
An Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat Permit is required for all charter or headboat fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic HMS in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The HMS Charter/Headboat Permit will be valid from the date of issuance through Dec. 31, 2021. The permit fee is $20.
For information about contact the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Permitting Office at 1-888-872-8862 or 727-824-5399 or visit the NMFS Permit Shop at hmspermits.noaa.gov. For complete HMS regulations, contact the HMS Management Division at 301-713-2347 or visit the website at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/atlantic-highly-migratory-species. See Saltwater Fishing for a complete listing of Highly Migratory Species contact information.
Other seasons and rules may be currently in place in Federal waters off Louisiana, please check those rules at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/rules-and-regulations.
All Louisiana state waters seaward to the gulfward boundary of the Louisiana Territorial Sea shall be closed to the recreational and commercial harvest and possession of all sharks between April 1 and June 30 of each year.
Small Coastal Sharks
Atlantic sharpnose shark; bonnethead shark; blacknose shark; finetooth shark
Large Coastal Sharks
Blacktip shark; nurse shark; smooth hammerhead; bull shark; sandbar shark*; spinner shark; great hammerhead; scalloped hammerhead; tiger shark; lemon shark; silky shark*
*NOTE: Recreational harvest of sandbar and silky sharks (ridgeback sharks) is not allowed.
Blue shark; porbeagle shark; thresher shark; oceanic whitetip shark; shortfin mako
NOTE: A person subject to a bag limit shall not possess at any time, regardless of the number of trips or the duration of a trip, any shark in excess of the bag limits listed under Highly Migratory Species on Saltwater Creel and Size Limits chart. The practice of “finning,” that is, removing only the fins and returning the remainder of the shark to the sea, is prohibited within and without Louisiana waters. Notwithstanding other provisions of this part, a person may fish for, but not retain, white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) with rod and reel only under a catch-and-release program, provided the person releases and returns such fish to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury (For tips on safely releasing fish, visit www.wlf.la.gov/page/best-fishing-practices).
The following is a list of shark species that are prohibited: Atlantic angel shark, sand tiger shark, dusky shark, bigeye sand tiger shark, sixgill shark, largetooth sawfish, bigeye thresher shark, smalltooth sawfish, narrowtooth shark, Caribbean reef shark, white shark, Caribbean sharpnose shark, basking shark, sevengill shark, Galapagos shark, bigeye sixgill shark, smalltail shark, longfin mako, bignose shark, whale shark and night shark. No sandbar or silky sharks may be retained under a recreational bag limit.
Recreational fishing vessels shall not possess more than five swordfish per vessel per trip. Swordfish taken under a recreational bag limit shall not be sold, purchased, exchanged, bartered, or attempted to be sold, purchased, exchanged or bartered. No person aboard any vessel shall transfer or cause the transfer of swordfish between vessels on state or federal waters. All recreationally harvested swordfish must be reported, see hmspermits.noaa.gov/catchReports or call (800) 894-5528.
Anglers fishing for tunas within or outside Louisiana state waters are subject to both state and federal laws, rules and regulations. Federal regulations regarding the recreational harvest of tunas change often, especially for bluefin tuna. Prior to angling for or harvest of tuna, be aware of the most current federal regulations for fishing or harvest, including sizes, bag limits and closed seasons. For updates on tuna quota monitoring and tuna retention limit adjustments, anglers may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at 888-872-8862. The “Atlantic Tunas Regulations Brochure” is available at hmspermits.noaa.gov/library and announcements of changes may be accessed via the web at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/rules-and-announcements/notices-and-rules.
Permanent Louisiana regulations on tuna harvest may be superseded by seasonal changes within the federal regulatory system. See the following websites (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/species/tunas/index.html and www.fisheries.noaa.gov/rules-and-announcements/notices-and-rules) for current federal regulations. State requirements regarding tuna regulations may also be subject to change, please refer to the LDWF website for current information: www.wlf.la.gov/fishing/saltwater-seasons-limits and www.wlf.la.gov/regulations.
All bluefin tuna must be reported within 24 hours of landing to NMFS by calling 888-872-8862 or visiting hmspermits.noaa.gov. For further information about angling category permits call the NMFS HMS Division at 888-872-8862 or 301-713-2347. Federal quotas and regulations for bluefin tuna can change often, be aware of the most current bluefin tuna regulations and federal seasons by visiting hmspermits.noaa.gov.
There is a closed season for the recreational harvest of gag from Jan. 1 through May 31 of each year. A closed season for the recreational harvest of black, red, yellowfin and yellowmouth groupers as well as scamp has also been established from Feb. 1 – March 31 of each year sea-ward of the 20 fathom (120 feet) curve.
Other seasons and rules are currently in place in Federal waters off of Louisiana. Please check those rules at www.gulfcouncil.org under “Fishing Regulations.”
10 Charter Captain & Crew
No harvest of red snapper, greater amberjack or grouper of any species is allowed for the captain and crew of vessel under charter (their creel limit/bag limit is zero).
11 Red Snapper
Regulations for the recreational harvest of red snapper in Louisiana state waters may change frequently. For current red snapper seasons, bag limits, and possession information check the LDWF website at: www.wlf.la.gov/fishing/recreational-fishing.
12 Gray Triggerfish
There is a closed season for the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish from Jan. 1 through the end of February and from June 1 – July 31 annually.
The recreational greater amberjack season is open May 1-31. There is a fixed closed season from June 1 – July 31. The season reopens Aug. 1 – Oct. 31, or until the annual quota is met or projected to be met. For more information, go to www.wlf.la.gov/news?cat=18 OR sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/2018/021/index.html.
14 Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP)
All recreational anglers, including those not normally required to have a fishing license, and charter captains must obtain an ROLP to possess tunas, billfish, swordfish, amberjacks, groupers, snappers, hinds, dolphinfish, wahoo, and cobia. Charter captains mush obtain a Charter ROLP in order to conduct trips possessing tunas, billfish, swordfish, amberjacks, groupers, snappers, hinds, dolphinfish, wahoo, and cobia. Anglers on a paid for-hire trip (if the licensed charter guide on board has a valid Charter ROLP) and anglers 15 years of age or younger are not required to have an ROLP (see Saltwater Fishing details).