Summary of 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 Regulations).
- 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.
Water Supply Reservoirs Open To Fishing By Permit Only
Permits must be obtained from the specific reservoir owner listed below. A valid fishing license is also required.
Type of Fishing
Newark-Pequannock Watershed Reservoirs
Boat & Shoreline
Newark Watershed reservoir permits available in person at:
City of Newark
or online at:
Oak Ridge Reservoir
Veolia reservoir permits available online only at:
Veolia Watershed Recreation Program
Lake Tappan Reservoir
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, see Delaware River Regulations.
- 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 Regulations.
- Use set lines.
- Use cast nets in freshwater lakes or trout stocked waters. See Baitfish Regulations for other exclusions.
- 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 Delaware River Regulations and Greenwood Lake Regulations.
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 NJDEP 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.
No more than five devices per person may be used when fishing through the ice. Legal devices include:
- 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.
- An artificial jigging lure with not more than one burr of three hooks that measure not more than ½-inch from point to point.
- An artificial jigging lure with not more than three single hooks measuring not more than ½-inch from point to shaft.
- 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 NJDEP 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.
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 dep.nj.gov/njfw/fishing/freshwater/regulations-and-permits 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.
No person may tag or mark and then release a fish without first obtaining a fish stocking permit or by special permit issued by NJDEP 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.
Fish Consumption Advisories
Fish Smart, Eat Smart
Check online for fish consumption advisories on the local water body in which you fish! Go to FishSmartEatSmartNJ.org
Harmful Algal Bloom — Status Check
Stay up to date on the status of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in New Jersey waters with the NJDEP Algal Bloom Sampling Status site. The easy, interactive dashboard provides current sampling results, waterbody locations and important advisory information at your fingertips. Stay informed about the presence of potentially harmful algal blooms to protect you and your pets. Visit nj.gov/dep/hab/ for more information.
Motor Boat Registration and Title Requirements
NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC)
Most boats must be registered to operate on New Jersey waterways.
- All titled boats must be registered also.
- Any boat (including jet skis and non-titled watercraft), mechanically propelled (incl. electric motors), regardless of length, must be registered.
- Boats greater than 12 feet in length, regardless of propulsion means, must be titled and registered at an MVC office.
Boats and marine equipment which need not be registered:
- Those not based in New Jersey or operating here less than 180 consecutive days that are operating under a federally-approved numbering system from another state
- Ship’s lifeboats
- Non-motorized vessels used exclusively on small lakes and ponds on private property
- Racing vessels with New Jersey State Marine Police permit
- Non-motorized inflatable device, surfboard, racing shell, dinghy, canoe or kayak
- Non-motorized vessel less than 12 feet in length
For use on New Jersey waterways, all boats more than 12 feet in length must be titled, with the exception of ship’s lifeboat, canoe, kayak, inflatable, surfboard, rowing scull, racing shell, tender/dinghy used for direct transportation between a vessel and shore for no other purposes.
Boat Operator License (MVC)
An operator license is required to operate power vessels on fresh, non-tidal waters such as lakes, creeks and rivers. (Minimum age 16 years; with certain exceptions.)
For More Information:
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission 888-486-3339 toll free in NJ or 609-292-6500 from out-of-state
Boat Safety Certificate (NJSP)
A boat safety certificate (from an approved boat safety course; see NJSP website, below) is required to operate a personal watercraft or power vessel, including electric motors, in NJ waters (tidal and non-tidal).
New Jersey State Police (NJSP)