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New Jersey

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing

Finfish Regulations

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Regulations in red are new this year.

Regulations remain in effect until changed. For the most current regulations, go to

Highlights of Regulation Changes:

  • The recreational summer flounder regulations have been modified to include an open season May 4 - September 25. The possession limit for all marine waters is 3 fish at 18 inches, with the exception of the following areas: Delaware Bay and Tributaries is 3 fish at 17 inches; Island Beach State Park is 2 fish at 16 inches.
  • The recreational scup regulations have been modified to include an open season Jan. 1 - June 30 and Sept. 1 - Dec. 31 with a thirty-fish possession limit. The minimum size limit remains 10 inches.

New Jersey recreational marine regulations apply to all fish species when they are possessed in state waters or landed in New Jersey regardless of where they are caught. Saltwater anglers must comply with the requirements of the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program. See New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program.

Resource Information

Anyone who takes fisheries resources may be required to provide information on the species, number, weight or other information pertinent to management of resources. Anglers are encouraged to report all fishing activity after each trip. Visit NJDEP Fish & Wildlife's Volunteer Angler Survey at

Methods of Recreational Fishing

No person shall take, catch, kill or attempt to take, catch or kill any fish within the marine waters of the state by any means except in the manner commonly known as angling with hand line or rod and line unless specifically provided for by statute or regulation.

Delaware Fishing License Requirement

A Delaware fishing license is required for all non-resident anglers aged 16 and over fishing either fresh or tidal waters of Delaware. Delaware fishing license information can be found at

New York Fishing Registry Requirement

New York offers a free registry to all marine anglers fishing in New York. Visit

Bait Fish

­No license is required to take bait fish for personal use with the following gear:

  1. Dip nets 24 inches diameter or less for taking Atlantic herring only for live bait. The taking or possession of river herring (alewife and blueback herring) is prohibited.
  2. Bait seines 50 feet long or less.
  3. Cast nets 20 feet in diameter or less.
  4. Lift or umbrella nets four feet square or less.
  5. Not more than five killipots.
  6. Not more than two miniature fykes or pots for the taking of eels for bait.

Fish taken in this manner may not be sold or used for barter unless the angler is in possession of a commercial bait net license.

No person shall take or attempt to take fish by any means from the Deal Lake flume, Lake Takanassee spillway or Wreck Pond spillway on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday during the months of April and May.

Wanton Waste Prohibited

Fish of any species which are purposely killed shall become part of the angler’s daily possession limit and shall not be returned to the water from which they were taken. This does not apply to fish which are released alive and subsequently die, but does apply even to species without size/possession limits.


Spearfishing may be conducted by means of a spear, harpoon or other missile while completely submerged in the marine waters of the state for any species, except lobster.

Persons who fish with a spear for species with size limits are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the fish meets the minimum size limits before being killed or injured.


The filleting at sea of all fish with a size limit, or any species of flatfish, is prohibited except for summer flounder; see Summer Flounder, State Size & Possession Limits. Anglers shall possess no parts of any fish caught on a previous fishing trip. Party boats may fillet fish at sea if they obtain a Special Fillet Permit available from NJDEP Fish & Wildlife’s Marine Resources Administration.

Fish Measurement

Prohibited Species

It is illegal to take, possess, land, purchase, or sell any of the following species:

  • Atlantic sturgeon
  • Diamondback terrapin
  • Shortnose sturgeon
  • River herring (alewife and blueback herring; see Marine Species Identification)
  • Various shark species

Horseshoe Crabs

The harvest of horseshoe crabs is prohibited. Possession of horseshoe crabs is also prohibited except for those individuals holding a scientific collecting permit for research and education and those fishermen that can provide suitable documentation that the horseshoe crabs in their possession were harvested outside of New Jersey.

Sea Turtles & Marine Mammals

It is illegal to intentionally molest, kill or possess sea turtles, including terrapins, or marine mammals, or to possess any part thereof.