Hook & Line
- There is no restriction on the number of poles and lines used to fish for game fish, except in specific cases.
- Fishing for trout in designated trout waters: Limited to 1 pole per angler.
- Fishing on Public Fishing Areas: Limited to 2 poles per angler.
- Sport shad fishing: Limited to 2 poles per angler.
- Anglers using more than two poles and lines to fish for shad must abide by commercial shad regulations.
- Landing nets may be used to land fish legally caught.
- Game fish may be used as live bait (where live bait is legal) if they are taken legally and you do not exceed daily creel and possession limits.
- A sport trotline is one line or a combination of lines using less than 51 hooks.
- Sport trotlines must be:
- Marked with the owner’s name and address and with visible buoys.
- Submerged at least three feet below the surface of the water.
- Attended regularly and removed after the completed fishing trip.
- Unmarked or unattended trotlines will be confiscated by DNR.
- It is unlawful to use any sport trotline within one-half mile below any lock or dam.
- Only catfish and nongame fish (year-round) and American and Hickory shad during shad season may be taken with trotlines.
- Trotlines are not permitted on Lake Tobesofkee or any State Park Lake or at any Public Fishing Area.
- Use of 51 or more hooks is considered Commercial Fishing (see General Regulations).
Set Hooks & Jugs
- Only catfish and nongame fish (year-round) and American and Hickory shad during shad season may be taken with set hooks and jugs.
- It is illegal to use jugs and set hooks on Lake Tobesofkee, any State Park Lake, or at any Public Fishing Area.
- A sport fishing license is required to fish with set hooks and jugs in Georgia.
- There are no other restrictions on the use of set hooks and jugs (number of, dimensions, materials, etc.).
- DNR encourages anglers using these methods to check them regularly, remove them at the end of the fishing day, and avoid areas popular with recreational boaters.
- “Spearing” is the use of a handheld spear or similar device and the use of a weapon, other than a firearm, which propels the spear to which a wire, rope, line, etc. is attached and secured to the weapon or the person using the weapon.
- Only nongame fish and catfish as described below may be speared in freshwater and are not to be sold or used for commercial purposes.
- The taking of flathead and channel catfish by spear may be done any time day or at night by light in the Savannah River and its tributaries and impoundments in the Savannah River Basin only.
- All spears must have barbs or other devices to recover fish and must be attached to a line secured to the person using the weapon.
- A sport fishing license is required to spear fish in Georgia.
- The person spearing fish must be completely submerged.
Cast Nets, Bow Nets, Minnow Seines & Traps
Dip and Cast Nets
- Dip nets and cast nets may be used to take threadfin shad, gizzard shad, and blueback herring for bait.
- Cast nets may not be used in State Park Lakes or at any Public Fishing Area.
- Bow nets are considered sport shad fishing gear and shall have a minimum legal size of 3½ inches stretched mesh.
Minnow Seines & Traps
- Up to 50 nongame fish 5 inches in length or less may be taken using a minnow seine or trap and are not to be sold or used for commercial purposes.
- All other fish and eels taken in a minnow seine or trap must be released immediately unharmed into the water.
- A minnow seine must be less than 20 feet in length and have a 3⁄8 inch or less mesh (square or diameter).
- A minnow trap must be less than 24 inches in length, 18 inches in width, or 9 inches in height for a rectangular trap; or, 30 inches in circumference for cylindrical traps.
- The throat opening must be no larger than 1 inch, and bar mesh must not be smaller than 1/4 inch (square or diameter).
- Each minnow trap must have an attached tag or float bearing the name and address of the trap owner.
- An individual may deploy up to 2 traps at any time.
- Certain water bodies have restrictions on the use of minnow seines and traps, including designated trout waters and specific rivers and streams.
- Nongame fish (does not include channel or flathead catfish) may be taken by bow and arrow from freshwater under specific conditions.
- Possession of a sport fishing license is required to bow fish in Georgia.
- Arrows must be equipped with barbs or similar devices for recovering fish and must be attached to the person or bow by a line sufficient for recovering the arrow and fish.
- Poisonous or exploding arrowheads are illegal.
- Arrows cannot be discharged into the water closer than 150 feet to anyone engaged in any other means of recreation.
- Legal hours for fishing with bow and arrow are from sunrise to sunset, except that fish (nongame) may be taken at night while using a light in reservoirs over 500 acres in size.
- Any game fish with an open wound possessed by a person bow fishing will be considered evidence of taking fish illegally.
- Know your target– the take of protected species is unlawful.
- Channel and flathead catfish are game fish and may not be taken by bow and arrow, except in the Savannah River and its tributaries and impoundments in the Savannah River basin by bow and arrow any time during the day or at night by the use of a light.
- Noodling is legal in Georgia’s freshwater from March 1 – July 15 with a sport fishing license.
- The only species of fish that may be taken by hand, without the aid of any device, hook, snare, net, or other artificial element, and without the use of any scuba equipment, air hose, or other artificial breathing apparatus are flathead, channel, and blue catfish.
- It is not legal to alter any natural or man-made features to attract or capture fish by hand. Raising any part of a natural or artificial device out of the water to aid in the hand capture of enclosed fish is also not legal.
- All boats that carry any means of mechanical propulsion (electric trolling motor and/or gas motor) and all sailboats 12 feet and longer must be registered.
- Online registration or renewal can be done at GoBoatGeorgia.com.
- A Boat Registration Application by mail can be obtained from GoBoatGeorgia.com.
- Registration or renewal can be done by phone at 800-366-2661.
- Georgia honors all other states’ registrations, provided the boat is not used in excess of 60 consecutive days in Georgia.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
- A wearable personal flotation device (PFD) is required for each person aboard a vessel.
- PFDs must be readily accessible to all occupants, in good and serviceable condition, legibly marked with the US Coast Guard approved number, and of appropriate size for the occupants.
- One Type IV throwable device must also be on board all vessels except Class A vessels (boats less than 15’ 11” which also includes personal-watercraft, canoes, and kayaks).
- Children under age 13 must wear a PFD when the vessel is underway, unless the child is within a fully enclosed cabin.
- PFDs must be worn by each person aboard a vessel in an area marked as a “hazardous area.”
Outboard Motor Restrictions
- No motor in excess of 9.9 hp may be operated on the Ogeechee River upstream of State Hwy 119.
- No motor in excess of 25 hp may be operated on Lake Juliette or Lake Tugalo.
- Georgia State Park lakes often have boat and motor restrictions. Check with the Park Office at each park for details.
- No vessel may be operated above idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, vessel adrift, or any wharf, pier, piling, or persons in the water, or shoreline next to a full or part-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area.
- Tybee, Sea, St. Simons, and Jekyll Islands have temporal (May 1 – Sept. 30) 1,000 ft. safety zones.
- It is unlawful to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- For boating education, please visit GoBoatGeorgia.com.
- Visit GoBoatGeorgia.com for complete boating regulations.
Activities That Are Against the Law
- Using live blueback herring for bait in most freshwater areas, except in specific locations like certain lakes and parts of the Altamaha River watershed.
- Fishing with live blueback herring in Alabama waters.
- Attempting to catch game fish (except American shad, hickory shad, channel catfish, blue catfish, or flathead catfish) using methods other than pole and line.
- Employing methods not listed in the regulations to catch fish in public freshwater areas. This includes snagging fish, which is prohibited.
- Using electronic devices, explosives, poisons, or firearms to catch fish, which is strictly forbidden.
- Introducing or releasing fish or bait into public waters, except in the same water body from which they were collected.
- Discarding fish caught in public waters, which is considered wasteful and against the rules.
- Taking protected species, as outlined in the Definitions section of the regulations, is also prohibited.
Make sure to abide by these rules to ensure you're fishing within the bounds of the law while enjoying Georgia's waters.