Saltwater Finfish Regulations
Methods of Take
A recreational fishing license is required for all methods of finfish harvest.
Saltwater finfish may be taken from Mississippi waters by any of the following methods:
- Hook and line: Cane pole, handline or rod and reel.
- Trotline: Anyone trotline fishing south of Interstate 10 must be registered with MDMR and be issued a unique number that is to be attached, along with fisherman’s name, to both ends of trotline on corrosion resistant tags, written in indelible ink so that it is readable by MDMR personnel. Beginning January 1, 2020, both recreational and commercial trotline tags shall be renewed on an annual basis. Trotline tags will be valid January 1 - December 31 of each year.
- Bow, spear or gig. No restriction on number of prongs.
- Cast nets and brill (brail) nets: Not to exceed 12 feet in radius, may be used in marine waters only. No freshwater species may be in a fisherman’s possession while he is using a cast net or brill net.
- Small-mesh beach seines under 100 feet in length and with a maximum 1/4-inch-square mesh size.
- Trammel or gill nets, seines or any similar contrivance must be under 1,200 feet in total length. Gill and trammel nets must have a minimum 1-1/2-inch-square mesh size. From Oct. 15 through Dec. 15 of each year, gill and trammel nets must have a minimum square-inch mesh size of 1-3/4 inches. Gill and trammel nets must be made of MDMR-approved degradable materials. Haul seines shall be constructed of a mesh size not to exceed 15/16” bar and 1-7/8” stretch and shall not be constructed of monofilament.
- Permitted eel traps must have a minimum of 1/2- by 1-inch-square mesh size.
Commercial fishing is prohibited north of the CSX Railroad bridge in the three coastal counties of Mississippi.
In addition, the National Park Service prohibits commercial fishing within the Gulf Islands National Seashore boundary, which is a one-mile perimeter around Ship, Horn and Petit Bois islands.
Any person or company selling or transporting for sale any species of fish that does not meet Mississippi state size limits or for which the season is closed must possess valid documentation from the state or country of origin evidencing that the fish were legally harvested.
Commercial Eel Permit
A special permit and regulations for commercial eel fishing must be obtained from the MDMR.
All fish traps or pots and eel traps or pots must be clearly marked with the owner’s full name, permit or license number. All fish traps or pots and eel traps or pots must be checked and emptied at least once every 48 hours.
It shall be unlawful for commercial or recreational fishermen to possess fish with heads, tails or flesh removed until delivered to final destination; however, fish may be scaled or have gills removed (see Recreational Fishing Information for charter boats).
Saltwater Minnow License
In order to catch or transport saltwater minnows for sale, fishermen must obtain a saltwater minnow license (see License Fee).
All minnow traps placed in or on the marine waters of Mississippi must have a corrosion-resistant metal or plastic tag permanently attached to the trap and stamped with the licensed owner’s full name. The minimum height of the
letters shall be at least 3/16 of an inch.
Commercial Net Fishing
The possession of a gill net, trammel net or like contrivance, or any other equipment prohibited for use in the taking or harvesting of seafood on a vessel on the marine waters of this state where the use of the net, contrivance or equipment is prohibited, shall constitute prima facie evidence that an offense has been committed to take or harvest seafood with nets, contrivances or equipment prohibited by this chapter, unless the vessel is:
- Anchored or moored at a permanent facility intended for the mooring
- Traveling directly between a marina, harbor or public boat launching facility and a U.S. Coast Guard marked and maintained navigation channel; OR
- Traveling within a U.S. Coast Guard marked and maintained navigation channel.
The use of gill or trammel nets is prohibited within 1/2 mile of the shoreline.
All nets, regardless of type, must be clearly marked with the owner’s name or license number. Floats or buoys must be placed at intervals of 100 feet or less.
Nets, seines or any like contrivance are not permitted in the following areas:
Within any river, bayou, creek, canal, stream, tributary, lake, bay, inlet or other water source entering into salt waters, except:
- 1/2 mile from Cat Island
- Point Aux Chenes Bay
- Middle Bay - Jose Bay
- L’Isle Chaude Bay
- Heron Bay
- South Rigolets
- Biloxi Bay, south of a line between Marsh Point, Ocean Springs and Grand Bayou, Deer Island
- Pascagoula Bay, south of a line beginning at a point on the shoreline at the southern terminus of range lines R7W and R6W near Camp Lamotte; then southeasterly along the most direct line to the southernmost point of Twin Islands; then easterly along the most direct line to the southern point of Rabbit Island; then easterly along the most direct line to beacon “Occ R 4 sec 100 feet” on the eastern side of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems; then southeasterly following the shoreline of the southeasternmost point of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems; then easterly along the most direct line to the southernmost point of land adjoining the entrance of Yazoo Lake and South Rigolets and Biloxi Bay south of a line drawn between Marsh Point and Grand Bayou.
Nets, seines or fish traps used for catching fish are not permitted within 1,200 feet of any pier or harbor. Nets, seines or fish traps are not permitted within 100 feet of the mouth of any bay, bayou, creek, canal, stream, lake, inlet, channel or tributary or within any area that would block the mouth of any such body of water. (Please note: gill and trammel nets are prohibited within 1/2 mile of the shoreline.)
Purse seines may not exceed 1,500 feet in length, except those used expressly to catch Menhaden. Menhaden purse seines must have a mesh size no smaller than 1/2-inch square (1-inch stretch).
Reef Fish Regulations
All fishermen fishing for reef-associated species (snappers, groupers, triggerfish and amberjack) must use NON-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits while fishing for all reef species, including Red Snapper.
The Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2020 (DESCEND Act), effective January 13, 2022, requires fishermen to have a venting tool and/or descending device rigged and ready to use when fishing for reef fish. This rule applies to fishing for reef fish from commercial vessels, charter vessels and headboats and private recreational fishing vessels.