Fishing Regulations on Louisiana's Managed Lands

When fishing in Louisiana's wildlife management areas (WMAs), refuges, and certain federal lands, anglers must be aware that these areas often have distinct regulations. These can include special fishing seasons, bag and possession limits, size restrictions, or closures that are not the same as the state's general fishing regulations.

Required Licenses for WMAs, Refuges, and Conservation Areas

For access to lands administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), including wildlife management areas, refuges, and wetlands conservation areas, specific permits are required:

  • WMA Access Annual Permit: Needed for all users aged 18 and over for access to LDWF-administered lands.
  • 5-day Permit: An alternative to the annual permit for short-term access.
  • Exemptions: Individuals 17 and under are exempt from needing a WMA access permit.
  • Traveling Through: No permit is required for those merely passing through LDWF lands, provided they take the most direct route and do not stop or engage in any activities.
  • Included in Other Licenses: The WMA access permit is included in the Sportsman’s Paradise License, Senior Hunt/Fish License, and all lifetime licenses.

Permits can be purchased online at LouisianaOutdoors.com. Notably, these specific permits are not required for National Wildlife Refuges or other federally managed lands, which may have their own set of rules and access requirements.

Guidelines for Vessel and Land Use on LDWF-Administered Lands

When accessing Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) administered lands, including wildlife management areas (WMAs), refuges, and wildlife conservation areas (WCAs), there are specific regulations concerning the use of various types of vehicles and vessels.

Vessel Usage Restrictions

  • Prohibited Vessels: Airboats, aircraft, personal watercraft, mud crawling vessels, and hovercraft are generally not allowed, with the exception of Type A personal watercraft (model year 2003 and beyond, 8 feet in length and greater) permitted in WMAs from April 1 to Labor Day from sunrise to sunset.
  • Designated Areas: Personal watercraft are permitted year-round in designated areas of Alexander State Forest WMA.
  • Speed Restrictions: "Slow/no wake" speed is mandated within 100 feet of anchored vessels, shorelines, docks, piers, anglers, or any manually powered vessels.
  • Limited Access Areas (LAAs): Operation of internal combustion powered vessels is prohibited from September through January. Trolling motors are allowed for navigation. Vehicles are also prohibited in these areas from November through January.

No Wake Zones

  • Bare Steerage Speed: Vessels must operate at the slowest speed possible while maintaining directional control in no wake zones.

Self-Clearing Permit Requirements

  • Mandatory for All Activities: Required for anyone on LDWF-administered lands, except for Rockefeller and Marsh Island Wildlife Refuges. The permit has two portions: Check In and Check Out.
  • Check-In and Out Procedures: Obtain a Self-Clearing Permit from a designated station or electronically. Check in before starting activities and check out immediately upon exiting.
  • Exemptions: Fishers and boaters entering a WMA via watercraft from outside without disembarking onto the land, and those passing through without stopping or engaging in activities, do not need a Self-Clearing Permit.

Additional Regulations

  • Water Control Structures: Tampering or altering water control structures on WMAs is strictly prohibited.
  • WMA Specific Restrictions: Additional regulations may apply depending on the WMA. Consult local LDWF offices for details.

Atchafalaya Delta: Specific Regulations

Atchafalaya Delta WMA has particular guidelines for camping, houseboat mooring, and vessel use to ensure the preservation of the area's natural resources and to provide equitable access to the public.

Camping and Houseboat Mooring

  • Designated Areas: Camping and houseboat mooring are only permitted in areas specifically designated for these activities.
  • Houseboat Mooring Permits: Required for mooring during the hunting season. Permits are allocated via an annual lottery or a bid lease program. Outside of hunting season, standard mooring regulations apply.
  • Contact for Details: For comprehensive rules and to acquire permits, contact the Lafayette Field Office.

Vessel and Vehicle Restrictions

  • Mudboats and Air-Cooled Propulsion: Vessels powered by more than 36 total horsepower are strictly prohibited on the WMA. This rule is particularly aimed at mudboats or any air-cooled propulsion vessels to minimize disturbance and ecological impact.

Self-Clearing Permits

  • Locations for Permits: Available at Main Delta Campground, Wax Delta Campground, Cul-de-sac on Big Island, and Berwick Public Boat Launch (Jesse Fontenot Boat Launch).
  • Online Access: Permits can also be obtained through the LDWF Self-Clearing Permit app or via the internet/web portal.

Big Lake Regulations

Fishing Restrictions

  • Yoyos, Limb Lines, and Trotlines: These fishing methods are prohibited on both Big Lake and Chain Lake to protect the fish population and ensure sustainable fishing practices.
  • Commercial Fishing: Any form of commercial fishing is strictly prohibited, emphasizing the preservation of the lake's natural resources for recreational use.

Biloxi WMA Regulations

Vessel and Vehicle Restrictions

  • Mud Boats and Air-Cooled Propulsion: Only straight shaft “long tail” air-cooled mud motors with 25 total horsepower or less are allowed. This restriction is aimed at minimizing ecological damage and disturbance in the area.
  • Prohibited Vessels: All other types of airboats, mud boats, or air-cooled propulsion vessels, including “surface drive” boats, are not permitted within the WMA.

Mooring and Camping

  • Overnight Mooring: Vessels 50 feet in length or longer are not allowed to moor overnight, maintaining the tranquility and ecological balance of the area.
  • Designated Areas: Both camping and houseboat mooring are permitted exclusively in areas designated for these activities, ensuring that they do not disrupt the natural habitat.

Barataria Preserve - National Park Service, Crown Point Regulations

Wildlife Protection

  • Reptiles: All reptile species are protected within the park and cannot be harvested, collected, or possessed.
  • Amphibians: Only species authorized by the state of Louisiana as game may be taken within the preserve.

Fishing Compliance and Areas

  • State Regulations: Anglers must comply with all fishing regulations set by the State of Louisiana.
  • Designated Fishing Areas: Fishing is only allowed from the Twin Canals trail and the Kenta Canal area. All other areas, including various trails and canoe docks, are off-limits.

Restricted Areas

  • Fishing Prohibitions: Fishing is not allowed in specific areas, including around the Visitor Center and several designated trails.
  • Mooring and Grounding: Watercraft over 25 feet in length are prohibited from mooring or grounding within the preserve's waters.
  • Motorized Watercraft: Operating motorized watercraft, including electric trolling motors and airboats, is prohibited in specified waterways.

Specific Fishing Methods

  • Hoop Nets: Completely prohibited within the preserve.
  • Jug Line Fishing: Allowed with stipulations regarding marking, checking, and removal of the lines.
  • Crabbing: Permissible with a valid fishing license and recreational crab trap endorsement, along with conditions on trap marking, number, checking frequency, and possession limits.
  • Crawfish: Harvesting is permitted along specific areas and trails, with conditions on season, location, gear, attendance, and possession limits. A valid fishing license with gear endorsement is required for using crawfish traps, while nets do not require a license.

Bodcau WMA Regulations

Ivan Lake

  • Nets and Traps: Prohibited in Ivan Lake, ensuring the protection of the lake's fish population and maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Bussey Brake WMA Regulations

General Use

  • Recreational Fishing: Allowed along with non-consumptive uses.
  • Personal Watercraft and Water Skiing: Prohibited to maintain the tranquility and safety of the area.
  • Camping: Not permitted within the WMA.
  • ATVs/UTVs and Electric Bicycles: Prohibited to protect the natural environment.
  • Motorized Vehicles: Restricted on the reservoir levee except for launching boats or accessing the fishing pier.
  • Boat Handling: Dragging boats over levees or any activities damaging levees are prohibited.
  • Horseback Riding and Bicycles: Permitted only on the designated levee trail with specific access points.
  • Boat Mooring: Tying boats to channel marker poles is not allowed.

Watercraft Regulations

  • No-Wake Zone: Enforced in the harbor inside the wave break.
  • Fishing Piers: Boats must stay at least 30 feet away.

Fishing Regulations

  • Allowed Methods: Only rod and reel or cane pole fishing is permitted for recreational purposes.
  • Prohibited Gear: All types of nets and other specific gear like trotlines and yo-yos are banned.
  • Fishing Locations: Shoreline fishing is allowed only at designated spots. No fishing from the rocks along the reservoir levee.

Species-Specific Regulations

  • Black Bass: Daily and possession limits are set with a maximum total length limit, allowing one fish over 16 inches.
  • Crappie: Established daily and possession limits with a minimum total length.
  • Bluegill (Bream): Daily and possession limits specified with no minimum length requirement.

Dewey W. Wills WMA Regulations

Crawfishing

  • Limit: Crawfishing is limited to a daily catch of 100 pounds per person to ensure sustainable harvesting and ecosystem health.

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge Regulations

East Cove Unit

Closed Areas and Public Access

  • Closed Areas: Designated by "No Fishing" or "Area Closed" signs for safety or management purposes.
  • Public Access: Open year-round except during Louisiana coastal zone waterfowl hunting season or when specific areas are closed.

Boating and Fishing

  • Boat Access: Allowed one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset for fishing, crabbing, and cast netting.
  • Horsepower Restrictions: None, but boats must adhere to designated canals, bayous, and lakes.
  • Marsh Access: Boats are the only permissible means of travel; walking, wading, or climbing is prohibited.
  • Fishing Methods: Rod and reel or pole and line only, adhering to Louisiana's Sport Fishing limits.

Crabbing and Cast Netting

  • Crabbing: Allowed with hand lines and drop nets (up to 24” diameter). Daily limit of 60 crabs per vehicle or boat.
  • Shrimp Cast Netting: Permitted during inshore water season, with a daily limit of 5 gallons of heads-on shrimp per vehicle or boat. Cast netting for bait allowed year-round, with a limit of 1 gallon per day per vehicle or boat outside the shrimp season.

Gibbstown Unit

Closed Areas and Bank Fishing

  • Closed Areas: Marked for safety or management, similar to East Cove.
  • Bank Fishing and Cast Netting: Open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

Boating and Fishing

  • Boat Access: Allowed from March 15 to Oct. 15, within one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.
  • Motorized Boats: Permitted in the Outfall canal without horsepower restrictions.
  • Nonmotorized Boats: Allowed in Roadside Canal and accessible waterways from Bank Fishing Road.
  • Fishing Methods: Same as East Cove, using rod and reel or pole and line only, adhering to state limits.

Cast Netting for Bait

  • Regulations: Permitted when units are open for fishing, with a limit of 1 gallon per day per vehicle or boat outside the Louisiana shrimp season.

Elbow Slough WMA Regulations

Crawfishing

  • Limit: Limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • Season: Allowed between March 1 and July 31.
  • Method: Recreational crawfishing only. No traps or nets may be left overnight.

Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge Regulations

General Use and Restrictions

  • Commercial Fishing: Completely closed, including guide services.
  • Access Hours: Permitted 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset daily.
  • Camping and Overnight Activities: Prohibited to protect the natural environment.
  • Glass Containers: Not allowed to ensure safety and cleanliness.
  • Discharge of Firearms or Bows: Prohibited in the area.
  • Speed Limit: Maximum of 5 MPH to ensure the safety of all visitors.
  • Emergency Closures: Check the official website for any sudden or temporary restrictions.

Esler Field (formerly Camp Beauregard)

  • Regulations: Specific regulations are posted at Twin Lakes.

Fort Johnson - Vernon (formerly Fort Polk-Vernon)

  • Fishing Regulations: Special rules are posted at specific lakes within the area.

Grassy Lake WMA Regulations

Fishing and Crawfishing

  • Fishing Regulations: Same as statewide rules, but fishing is allowed only after 2 p.m. during waterfowl season, and after 10 a.m. during early teal season.
  • Crawfishing: Allowed between March 15 and July 31, limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No overnight traps or nets.

Isle Dernieres Barrier Islands Refuge Regulations

General Access and Activity

  • Access: Public access to land areas, wetlands, and interior waterways is prohibited.
  • Flora and Fauna: Disturbing or collecting any natural resources is forbidden without a permit.
  • Boat Traffic: Allowed adjacent to the islands in open waters, but prohibited in interior waterways or land-locked areas.
  • Fishing: Permitted from boats along the shore and wade fishing in surf areas.
  • Littering: Strictly prohibited on the islands and in Louisiana waters or wetlands.

J.C. Sonny Gilbert WMA Regulations

Fishing

  • Allowed Methods: Restricted to rod and reel, and pole fishing only. All other gear is prohibited.

Joyce WMA Regulations

Crawfishing

  • Limit: Limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • Method: Recreational crawfishing only.

Kisatchie National Forest - National Catahoula and National Red Dirt Wildlife Management Preserves

Fishing Closure

  • Deer Gun Hunts: Preserves will be closed to fishing during deer gun hunts. Refer to hunting regulations for specific dates.

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge Regulations

Fishing and Crabbing

  • Season: Open from March 15 to October 15, from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Boat Motors: Limited to 40 hp or less. Unit D is restricted to boats with trolling motors or no motors.

Lake Boeuf Regulations

Permits and Activities

  • Self-Clearing Permits: Available at Theriot Canal Boat Landing off LA 308 or through the LDWF app/web portal.
  • Night Activities: All forms of nighttime activities, including frogging, are prohibited.

Little River WMA Regulations

Crawfishing

  • Limit: Limited to 100 pounds per person per day.
  • Season: Allowed between March 1 and July 31.
  • Method: Recreational crawfishing only. No overnight traps or nets.

Manchac WMA Regulations

Crabbing and Crawfishing

  • Crab Traps: Prohibited entirely.
  • Crawfishing: Attended lift nets are allowed for crawfishing.

Maurepas Swamp

Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. Recreational crawfishing only.

Pass-A-Loutre

  • Oyster harvesting is prohibited.
  • Camping is allowed only in designated areas.
  • Self-Clearing Permits available at all designated camping areas, Camp Canal and at the WMA Headquarters or through the LDWF Self-Clearing Permit app or internet/web portal.
  • Vessels/Vehicles: Mudboats or air-cooled propulsion vessels powered by more than 36 total horsepower are prohibited on the WMA. Operation of mud boats and air-cooled propulsion engines prohibited after 2:00 p.m. Sept. 1 - Jan. 31, EXCEPT allowed after 2:00 p.m. in South Pass, Pass-a-Loutre, Southeast Pass, Loomis Pass, Dennis Pass, and Cadro Pass.

Pearl River

Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. Recreational crawfishing only.

Pomme De Terre

  • Recreational fishing regulations are the same as outside. NOTE: Allowed only after 2 p.m., during waterfowl season, EXCEPT allowed after 10 a.m. during early teal season.
  • Recreational crawfishing is allowed from March 15 - July 31 and is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA Regulations

General Restrictions

  • Nighttime Activities: Prohibited to ensure safety and protect the environment.
  • Possession Limits: Holding more than one daily limit of fish, crabs, or shrimp while on the WMA is not allowed.
  • Commercial Harvest: All harvesting of fish, shrimp, crabs, and crawfish is strictly for recreational purposes.

Permits and Access

  • Self-Clearing Permits: Obtainable at Island Road Boat Launch, Grand Bayou Boat Launch, Point Farm gate behind Montegut Middle School, or through the LDWF app/web portal.
  • Water Control Structures: No fishing, crabbing, cast netting, or trespassing allowed.

Shrimping

  • Method: Only by use of cast nets.
  • Season Limits: 25 pounds maximum (heads on) per boat or vehicle per day during open season; 10 pounds for bait during closed season.
  • Bycatch: Must be contained and returned to the water immediately.

Oyster Harvesting

  • Prohibition: Oyster harvesting is entirely prohibited in the area.

Finfish

  • Method: Fish may be taken only by rod and reel or hand lines.
  • Purpose: Strictly for recreational purposes.

Crabbing

  • Method: Only through the use of hand lines or nets; no overnight setting.
  • Equipment Limit: A maximum of 12 drop nets may be used/attended per boat or vehicle.
  • Possession Limit: Twelve dozen crabs maximum allowed per boat or vehicle per day.

Crawfishing

  • Limit: 100 pounds per person per day in unrestricted areas.
  • Gear: Must not be left set overnight.

Vessels & Vehicles

  • Boats: Internal combustion engines over 25 hp are prohibited in specific water management units.
  • Travel Through WMA: Allowed at any time for access purposes only in designated waterways.
  • Other Vehicles: Motorized vehicles, horses, and mules are generally prohibited unless authorized by LDWF.

Queen Bess Island Wildlife Refuge Regulations

Access and Preservation

  • Public Access: Prohibited to exposed land areas, breakwaters, and areas between land and breakwaters.
  • Flora and Fauna: Disturbing, injuring, or collecting any natural resources is forbidden without a permit.
  • Littering: Strictly prohibited on the refuge and in Louisiana waters or wetlands.

Richard K. Yancey WMA Regulations

Crawfishing and Fishing

  • Season: Recreational crawfishing allowed from March 15 to July 31.
  • Crawfish Harvest: Limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No overnight nets or traps. Motorized watercraft are prohibited.
  • Fishing Hours: Closed from 30 minutes before sunrise until 2 p.m. in specified lakes during open waterfowl seasons. Exceptions apply during early Teal Season.

Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, State Wildlife Refuge (Vermilion) & Marsh Island Wildlife Refuge Regulations

General Use and Harvesting

  • Trawling and Certain Gear: Prohibited to protect the refuge's aquatic life.
  • Refuge Access: Permitted from sunrise to sunset. Overnight camping is prohibited.
  • Firearms and Littering: Both are strictly prohibited.

Shrimping

  • Limits: 25 pounds maximum during the open season and 10 pounds for bait during the closed season, per boat or vehicle per day.
  • Method: Only by cast net for sport fishing or home consumption. All contents must be contained.

Crawfishing

  • Recreational Crawfishing: Allowed with a limit of 100 pounds per boat or vehicle per day.
  • Gear: Set nets may be used but must be attended and removed daily. No commercial harvesting.

Crabbing

  • Limit: 12 dozen crabs per boat or vehicle per day in open portions of the refuge.
  • Commercial Harvest: Not allowed on Marsh Island, State Wildlife and Rockefeller refuges.

Oyster Harvesting

  • Method: By tonging or hand collection from approved natural reefs.
  • Limit: One gallon per boat or vehicle per day. Shells must be returned to the reef.
  • Closures: The taking of oysters may be closed at any time by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Vessels & Vehicles

  • Restrictions: Speedboat racing, water skiing, jet skis, and airboats are prohibited.
  • Wake Zones: No wake zones must be honored, and wave wash kept to a minimum.
  • Levees and Structures: Activities causing damage to levees, dams, and water control structures are prohibited.

Salvador/Timken WMA Regulations

General Restrictions

  • Nighttime Activities: Generally prohibited except during the Experimental Nighttime Activity Season.
  • Self-Clearing Permits: Obtainable at designated boat launches or through the LDWF app/web portal.
  • Commercial Harvest: All harvesting of fish, shrimp, crabs, and crawfish is strictly for recreational purposes.

Shrimping

  • Method: Only by the use of cast nets.
  • Limits: 25 pounds per boat per day during the open season and 10 pounds per boat per day for bait during the closed season.
  • Bycatch: Must be contained and returned to the water immediately.

Finfish

  • Method: Fish may be taken only by rod and reel, or by hand lines.

Crabbing

  • Method: Crabs may be taken only through the use of hand lines or nets; no overnight setting.
  • Limit: Twelve dozen crabs maximum per boat or vehicle per day.

Crawfishing

  • Limit: 100 pounds per person per day in unrestricted areas.
  • Gear: Must not be left set overnight.

Vessels & Vehicles

  • Restrictions: Use of mudboats with more than four cylinders is prohibited. Activities causing damage to levees or structures are also prohibited.

Experimental Nighttime Activity Season

  • Duration: From 12 a.m., June 1 through official sunrise Aug. 15.
  • Activities Allowed: Limited to frogging and fishing with a rod and reel.
  • Frog Limits: 50 frogs per vessel in aggregate, with size limits for both bull frogs (minimum 5 inches) and pig frogs (minimum 3 inches).
  • Permit Requirements: Check out portion of Self-Clearing Permit must include boat registration number.
  • Firearms: Prohibited while participating in any experimental nighttime activity.

Russell Sage

  • Crawfishing is limited to 100 pounds per person per day limit.
  • The waterfowl refuge north of LA Hwy. 15 is closed to all fishing during duck season, including early teal season, EXCEPT allowed during the “Falconry for Ducks” portion of the waterfowl season.

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

  • Northline Recreation Area
  • Boat launching access open to fishing and crabbing March 15 to Oct. 15, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunrise.
  • Fishing and crabbing from the pier open year round sunrise to sunset.
  • Hog Island Gully Recreation Area
  • Boat and kayak launching access open to fishing March 15 to Oct. 15, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Fishing and crabbing from the pier open year round sunrise to sunset.
  • Blue Crab Recreation Area
  • Non-motorized boat launching access into Units 1A and 1B for fishing open March 15 to Oct. 15, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Non-motorized boat launching access into Units 1A and 1B for fishing open Oct. 16 to March 14, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Fishing and crabbing from the pier open year round sunrise to sunset.
  • West Cove Recreation Area
  • Boat launching access open to fishing March 15 to Oct. 15, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunrise.
  • Boat launching for passage to Calcasieu Lake and vicinity only Oct. 16 to March 14, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Fishing and crabbing from the pier open year round sunrise to sunset.
  • Cast netting for shrimp from a boat in canals, bayous and ponds must see Louisiana Inshore Shrimp season and regulations, sunrise to sunset.
  • When cast netting for bait, bait shrimp limit outside LA inshore shrimp season is one-gallon March 15 to Oct. 15, sunrise to sunset.

Sherburne

  • Recreational crawfishing is permitted from March 15 - July 31 with a limit of 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.
  • No motorized watercrafts are allowed on the farm complex.

Soda Lake

That portion west of Twelve Mile Bayou closed to fishing Oct. 1 - March 31.

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE COMPLEX

Full regulations can be found at www.fws.gov/sites/default/files/documents/southwest-louisiana-nwr-complex-fishing-and-boating-regulations.pdf

Spring Bayou

  • Recreational fishing regulations are the same as outside. NOTE: Allowed only after 2 p.m., during waterfowl season, EXCEPT allowed after 10 a.m. during early teal season.
  • Recreational crawfishing is allowed from March 15 - July 31 and is limited to 100 pounds per person per day. No traps or nets are to be left overnight.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Indian Bayou Area

Commercial and recreational crawfishing is permitted from Oct. 1 - Jan. 31 starting at 12 PM each day and all day from Feb. 1 - July 31 with an additional permit required. The permit is available Jan. 1. Call USACE Port Barre Office for more details 337-585-0853 or visit www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/AtchafalayaBasin.aspx.

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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.