Skip to main content
New Jersey

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater Fishing

License Information


  • A valid New Jersey fishing license is required for residents at least 16 years and less than 70 years of age (plus all non-residents 16 years and older) to fish the fresh waters of New Jersey, including privately owned waters. See below for the money-saving Buddy Fishing License.
  • For fishing-related license and permit fees, see Licenses, Permits & Fees. See below for Purchasing a License.
  • Resident anglers age 70 and over do not require a fishing license. A driver license or other acceptable proof of age containing date of birth and physical description will serve as the actual fishing license. Non-residents 70 and over must purchase a license.
  • License must be visibly displayed on outer clothing.
  • License and trout stamp are both valid from date of purchase through Dec. 31.
  • A person must have an established domicile (principle residence) in New Jersey for at least the previous six months to obtain a resident fishing license.
  • Farmers and immediate family members who live on the farm do not need a license to fish on their own farm, but must obey all fishing regulations.
  • Anyone convicted of a second fish or wildlife violation in this or another state within a period of five years will have his or her New Jersey sporting licenses revoked for a minimum of two years.
  • New Jersey is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Under the Compact, information about suspension of sporting license privileges for people convicted of wildlife violations in New Jersey will be shared with participating member states. It is an individual's responsibility to first contact the licensing authority in the state where they intend to fish, hunt or otherwise take wildlife to determine their eligibility before making a purchase or engaging in those activities. Individuals with wildlife violation convictions or license suspensions received outside of New Jersey may call the Compact Administrator at 609-259-3347 to determine his or her license eligibility in New Jersey.

Trout Stamps

A valid fishing license and trout stamp are both required to fish for or possess trout and salmon for all anglers (residents and non-residents) 16 and over, and residents under the age of 70. No trout stamp is required for residents age 70 years and over.

Purchasing a License

Licenses may be purchased online at or at license agents such as sporting goods or bait and tackle stores. Call first to confirm agent’s system is active. Visit for details, or call 609-292-2965.

Replacement —
Lost License or Stamp

Replace a license, permit or stamp at any license agent or online at NJ Fish & Wildlife’s internet license sales site, also linked through our regular website at For fishing licenses or trout stamps originally purchased online, a reprint can be made free of charge on plain paper. Durable stock duplicates can be ordered online for $2 per item.

Special Licenses

Servicemen and Servicewomen

A person on active duty in the United States armed services, regardless of their current residency, may buy a New Jersey resident fishing license. Active duty military ID must be shown to the license agent as proof of entitlement.

New Jersey National Guard

Only New Jersey National Guard personnel in good standing are entitled to free sporting licenses, permits and stamps. These privileges are not available using NJ Fish & Wildlife’s website. However, the NJ Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs can issue fishing licenses through their DMAVA website at For all other free sporting licenses, call 609-530-6866, email [email protected], or write to: NJ Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs, Attn: MSG (Ret.) Robert Greco (RSB-RALV), PO Box 340, Trenton, NJ 08625-0340.

Veterans Licenses, Stamps and Permits

Free hunting and fishing licenses, stamps and permits are available for resident veterans with a service-connected disability.

For the purposes of this program, legislation defines disabled veterans as “…any resident of New Jersey who has been honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active service from any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States and who has been declared by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, or its successor, to have a service-connected disability of any degree…”

Newly applying disabled veterans can obtain their hunting and fishing licenses and stamps by mailing the application and all required documentation to: NJDEP Fish & Wildlife, Attn: Disabled Veteran Licensing, MC 501-03, PO Box 420 Trenton, NJ 08625-0420.

NJ Fish & Wildlife offices no longer accept Disabled Veteran Certifications in person. For information and updates, go to

All licenses, stamps and permits for which the veteran is eligible will be free of charge. This does not give preferential treatment in any lottery. For questions call 609-292-2965.

Disabled Veteran Applicants:

  1. Documentation of current benefits for a service-connected disability and proof of honorable discharge (copy of your DD-214, VA card or monthly check stub) must be presented to obtain a disabled veteran certification.
  2. Applicant must provide a hunter education course certificate applicable to the license for which they are applying or a previously issued resident archery or firearm license or rifle permit. Resident licenses from other states are accepted if the license indicates the sporting arm for which it was valid. Non-resident licenses from other states are not acceptable.
  3. To obtain the free disabled veteran deer/turkey permits one must first have a free disabled veteran hunting license.

For the Blind

Residents with total blindness may obtain a free license. Call 609-292-2965 for an application.

Summary of General Fishing Regulations

The season, size and creel limits for freshwater species apply to all waters of the state, including tidal waters.

  • Fish may be taken only in the manner known as angling with handline or with rod and line, or as otherwise allowed by law.
  • When fishing from the shoreline, no more than three fishing rods, handlines or combination thereof may be used (except on the Delaware River. There is no rod limit when fishing from a boat except for the Delaware River.) For the Delaware River the three rod limit applies both to boat and shoreline anglers (see Delaware River).
  • Only one daily creel of any fish species may be in possession. Additional fish may be caught once the creel is reached if immediately returned to the water unharmed.
  • Separate stringers or buckets must be used for each angler’s catch.
  • Boats may contain only the combined daily creel limit for each legal angler on board.
  • A fishing license does not authorize trespassing on private property. Permission must first be obtained from the landowner.

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Fish within 100 feet (or as posted) of any fish ladder entrance or exit from March 1 through June 30.
  • Spear fish in fresh waters except as specified for Delaware River, Delaware River.
  • Possess a fishing device with more than nine hooks in total, or more than three treble hooks, except for the Delaware River; see Delaware River.
  • Use set lines.
  • Use cast nets in freshwater lakes or trout stocked waters. See Baitfish Regulations.
  • Foul hook or snag any species of fish. This does not apply to fish taken through the ice.

Bow and Arrow Fishing

Carp (including bighead, common, grass), eels, flathead catfish, American shad (Delaware River only), gizzard shad, snakeheads and suckers or hybrids of these species—may be taken at any time by use of a bow and arrow (with a line attached to the arrow) when in possession of a valid fishing license. Crossbows may be used when bowfishing except for Greenwood Lake. Crossbows must have a stock length of at least 25 inches, a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a working safety. Crossbows must be uncocked during transport or when not actively fishing. They may not be permanently mounted. NOTE: some municipalities have banned the discharge of bow and arrow, tethered arrow or not. As such, anglers are strongly urged to check with the waterbody owner and/or municipality prior to engaging in bowfishing. See regulations for the Delaware River and Greenwood Lake, Delaware River.

Emergency Closures

It is illegal to fish or attempt to catch or kill fish by any manner or means in any waters for which the Assistant Commissioner of NJ Fish & Wildlife, upon approval by the Fish and Game Council, issues an emergency closure notice. Such notification is effective and/or rescinded immediately upon public notification. Emergency closures shall be based upon imminent threat to the well-being of the fishery resources, and/or its users, and may include any exceptions to the total ban of fishing that the Assistant Commissioner deems practical.

Ice Fishing

No more than five devices per person may be used when fishing through the ice. Legal devices include:

  1. Ice supported tip-ups or lines with one single pointed hook attached, or one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to shaft.
  2. An artificial jigging lure with not more than one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to point.
  3. An artificial jigging lure with not more than three single hooks measuring not more than ½-inch from point to shaft.
  4. An artificial jigging lure with a combination of the hook limitations described in 2 and 3 above.

Natural bait may be used on the hooks of the artificial jigging lures. All devices that are not hand-held must bear the name and address of the user and cannot be left unattended.

See separate regulations for trout-stocked waters and Greenwood Lake.

Potentially Dangerous Fish

The possession or release of live, potentially dangerous fish is prohibited. These species include Asian swamp eel, bighead, grass (diploid) and silver carp, blue and flathead catfish, round goby, brook stickleback, green sunfish, oriental weatherfish, snakehead and warmouth. All black bass except for largemouth and smallmouth bass are considered potentially dangerous. Anglers MUST destroy these species if encountered while fishing and should submit specimen(s) or photos to a NJ Fish & Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries biologist for verification. To reach a regional biologist, call 908-236-2118 (north), 609-223-6076 (central) or 856-629-4950 (south). These non-native species are likely to cause environmental harm to the state’s fisheries resources by outcompeting preferred game fish species. Common carp are an invasive species but are NOT classified as a potentially dangerous fish and do not have to be destroyed.

Sale of Fish

It is illegal to sell any freshwater fish species except under commercial permits as prescribed in the Fish Code. Artificially-propagated trout, if properly tagged, may be sold for food purposes.

Stocking Fish

A permit is required to stock fish or fish eggs into any waters of the state, public or private, at any time. Applications are available online at or by contacting the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118. It is ILLEGAL to stock carp or koi into any waters. No trout may be used as bait or stocked within the PEQUEST RIVER DRAINAGE except by the Pequest Trout Hatchery.

Tagging Fish

No person may tag or mark and then release a fish without first obtaining a fish stocking permit or by special permit issued by NJ Fish & Wildlife. Contact the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries 908-236-2118 for application information.

Waste of Fish

Fish of any species which are purposely killed become part of the angler’s daily limit and must be removed from the waters from which they were taken, then either used or otherwise disposed of properly.