Recreational Fishing

Fishing Licenses

In Georgia, recreational fishing requires adhering to specific licensing requirements. Here's what you need to know:

  • License Requirements: Licenses are mandatory for various fishing methods including hook and line, cast netting, seining, crabbing, gigging, sport bait trawling, and shellfish harvesting.
  • Georgia Fishing License: Required for anglers returning to Georgia ports or transiting Georgia waters with catches from federal waters beyond the state's 3-mile territorial sea.
  • Reciprocal Agreements: Current agreements with Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida do not extend to saltwater fishing in Georgia.
  • SIP Permit: A free Saltwater Information Program (SIP) permit is required for anyone aged 16 and over who fishes in saltwater. These permits expire one year from the date of issuance.
  • Saltwater Fishing Guides: Georgia saltwater fishing guides can purchase a blanket fishing license to cover their customers. If you're booking a trip, ask the guide if a Georgia fishing license is needed or if the guide's license covers you. For those interested in purchasing a Saltwater Guide’s License, contact the DNR Coastal Regional License Office.

For all recreational fishing activities, ensure that you have the appropriate licenses and permits to comply with Georgia's regulations.

Saltwater Fishing Information

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Regulations

For the latest information on licenses, regulations, and fishing in Georgia's saltwaters:

GEORGIA DNR COASTAL OFFICE - Law Enforcement

  • Address: One Conservation Way, Suite 201, Brunswick, GA 31520-8687
  • Phone: 912-264-7237
  • Fax: 912-262-3166

COASTAL RESOURCES DIVISION - Marine Fisheries Section

  • Address: One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520-8687
  • Phone: 912-264-7218
  • Fax: 912-262-3143
  • Website: www.CoastalGADNR.org

Federal Saltwater Fishing Regulations

For information and updates on recreational fishing in federal waters:

SOUTH ATLANTIC FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL

  • Address: 4055 Faber Place Dr., Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405
  • Phone: 843-571-4366 or 866-SAFMC-10
  • Website: www.safmc.net

NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE - HMS Management Division

  • Address: 1315 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • Phone: 301-713-2347
  • Website: www.nmfspermits.com

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary

For information about fishing, boating, and diving:

Conservation Practices

  • Wanton Waste: Sort or cull your catch on the water. Return undersized or unwanted wildlife to the water alive to avoid wasting resources and breaking the law.
  • Artificial Reefs: Georgia maintains several inshore and offshore artificial reefs. Visit CoastalGaDNR.org/ArtificialReefsMarineHabitat for more information, coordinates, and updates.
  • Boating Safety Zones: Established off Jekyll, Tybee, St. Simons, and Sea islands. From May 1 through September 30, certain motorized craft are prohibited in these zones to ensure safety and protect wildlife.

Saltwater Finfish

Landing Requirements/Transfer Prohibition

All saltwater finfish, including sharks, must be landed with their head and fins intact to allow for species identification and size regulation enforcement. Anglers are also required to make their catches available for inspection by government officials. It is prohibited to transfer saltwater finfish subject to size and bag limits to another person or vessel on the water. Selling any seafood requires a commercial license.

Gear

  • Seines: These cannot be used as gill nets. Gill nets are stationary nets that ensnare or entangle fish and are regulated due to their impact on marine life.
  • Gigs: Only flounder may be taken with a gig, which is a handheld shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless.

General Regulations

  • Applicability: All regulations, including seasons, hours, creel limits, minimum size limits, apply regardless of the gear used.
  • Sharks: Recreational harvest of sharks is limited to hook and line gear only. Anglers must use non-offset, corrodible, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for sharks recreationally, except when fishing with artificial lures or flies.

Related Definitions

  • Maximum Size: The specific length above which it is unlawful to take that finfish species.
  • Minimum Size: The specific length below which it is unlawful to take that finfish species.
  • Open Season: Specified period during which one may take certain finfish species.
  • Daily Creel Limit: The lawful amount of a species of finfish that a person may take in one day.
  • Possession Limit: The lawful amount of a species that a person can legally have at one time.
  • Bushel: A measure equal to 8 gallons.

Saltwater Demarcation Line

This line is established in this state as the separation point between saltwaters and freshwaters for commercial fishing and sport fishing. The saltwater demarcation line is defined below:

  • The point at which U.S. Highway 17 crosses the following bodies of water and their tributaries shall be the line of demarcation for them: St. Mary's River, Satilla River, South Altamaha River, Champney River, Butler River, Darien River, Little Ogeechee System (except Salt Creek), North Newport River, Medway River, Big Ogeechee River, and the point at which Georgia Highway 25/South Carolina 170 crosses the Savannah River and its tributaries. All water seaward of these points shall be considered saltwater.
  • The following streams and their tributaries are designated as salt water for their entire length: Crooked River, Little Satilla River, South Brunswick River, Turtle River, Sapelo River, South Newport River, Salt Creek (Little Ogeechee System), and all other rivers, streams, and tributaries in the six coastal counties which are not enumerated in this subsection.
  • For purposes of crabbing, that portion of the St. Mary's River and the Satilla River System (including the Satilla River and White Oak Creek) which is seaward of the points at which the Seaboard Coastline Railroad crosses such streams and that portion of the Altamaha River System which is seaward of the points at which I-95 crosses the streams of that system shall be considered salt water. It shall be unlawful to place any crab trap in the waters of this state other than that described as salt water in Code Section 27-4-1 or by this subsection.

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!

Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.