Louisiana Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Importation of Fish

No fish from outside the state of Louisiana may be introduced into local waters without specific written approval from the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). This measure is critical in protecting indigenous species and ecological balance.

License Requirements

Every individual seeking to fish in Louisiana's freshwater bodies is mandated to obtain a Basic Recreational Fishing License. This requirement is inclusive of various fishing methods and tools, ensuring that the individual is recognized and authorized to engage in fishing activities. The license covers the use of equipment including:

  • Bow and Arrow: For those using archery as their fishing method.
  • Spears (Barbed or Barbless): For spearfishing enthusiasts.
  • Frog Gig/Catcher: Specialized equipment for frog hunting.
  • Scuba Gear: For underwater fishing adventures.
  • Hook and Line: The traditional fishing method.
  • Cast Net: With a specific size limit to the radius.
  • Hoop Nets, Slat Traps, Wire Nets: With a limitation on the quantity one can use.
  • Minnow/Bream Traps and Hand-Grabbing: For specific types of catch.

Carrying all applicable licenses while fishing is not just a legal formality but a necessity to ensure that all fishing activities are regulated and recorded.

Prohibited Freshwater Species

Louisiana law strictly prohibits the possession, sale, or transportation of certain fish species without the explicit written permission of the Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The rules are in place to prevent ecological imbalance and protect the native aquatic ecosystem. The following species are restricted:

  • All species of Tilapia: Known for their rapid reproduction and ability to disturb local habitats.
  • Carp (except koi, common carp, and goldfish): Due to their invasive nature and potential to outcompete native species.
  • Freshwater Electric Eel: A species not native to Louisiana, posing a threat to local fauna.
  • Rudd: An invasive species affecting local ecosystems.
  • Asian Swamp Eels, Snakeheads, Walking Catfishes, and Pencil Catfishes: All are known for their aggressive invasion and detrimental impact on local species.
  • Exotic Species of Asian Carp (Silver, Bighead, Black, and Grass): Notably invasive, altering habitats and competing with native species. They must not be returned alive to state waters and may not be possessed alive.

In addition, possessing or selling piranhas, Rio Grande cichlids, or apple snails is illegal within the state. If a Rio Grande cichlid is caught using legal methods, it must not be returned alive to the water or kept alive.

Prohibited Aquatic Plants

The introduction of non-native aquatic plants can lead to severe disruptions in waterways, affecting both the water quality and native plant and animal species. The following plants are prohibited without specific written permission from the Secretary of LDWF:

  • African Elodea & Brazilian Elodea: Invasive species known to clog waterways.
  • Aquatic Soda Apple, Asian Marshweed, Australian Pine: Non-native plants that displace local flora.
  • Crested Floating Heart, Duck Lettuce, Elodea, Eurasian Watermilfoil: Fast-growing plants that can choke out native species.
  • False Pickerelweeds, Giant Duckweed, Giant Sensitive Fern, Hydrilla: Known for their aggressive growth and impact on water ecosystems.
  • Indian Swampweed, Kapok Tree, Marine Naiad and Slender Naiad: Can alter water chemistry and physical characteristics of habitats.
  • Paragrass, Purple Loosestrife, Roundleaf Toothcup, Salvinia species: These species proliferate quickly and are difficult to control once established.
  • Torpedograss, Water Chestnut, Water Clovers, Water Hyacinth: Notoriously invasive, reducing oxygen levels in water and hindering boat navigation.
  • Water Lettuce, Water Snowflake, Water Spinach, Yellow Floating Heart: These plants form dense mats, affecting aquatic life and water flow.

    Bag and Possession Limits

    Anglers must adhere to daily bag limits and are generally not allowed to have more than twice the daily bag limit in their possession. Notable exceptions are made in specific areas like Toledo Bend Reservoir. There are also rules about the handling of game fish caught in nets and traps to ensure ethical and sustainable fishing practices.

    Fillet and Consumption Regulations

    Generally, possessing filleted fish aboard a vessel in freshwater is prohibited to ensure that size and bag limits are not violated. However, for immediate consumption, individuals may have a limited quantity of filleted fish, provided it's within legal limits and the vessel has the means for cooking.

    General Possession Limits

    In Louisiana, the law restricts the number of fish that recreational anglers can have in their possession to ensure sustainable fishing practices. The general rule is that no recreational angler can possess more than twice the daily bag limit for any species of freshwater fish. This regulation helps maintain fish populations and ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy fishing.

    Toledo Bend Reservoir Exception: Anglers at Toledo Bend Reservoir are allowed a unique exception where they can possess up to 100 crappie. This specific regulation recognizes the abundance of crappie in this particular reservoir and allows anglers to take more of this species home.

    Release Requirements

    • Game Fish Release: All freshwater game fish caught in any type of recreational or commercial net or trap must be returned immediately to the water from which it was taken, without injury. This practice is vital for the conservation of game fish populations and the overall health of the ecosystem.
    • Bream Exception: There is an exception for bream caught in a legal bream trap. These traps must not exceed 24 inches in length and have a throat no larger than 1 inch by 3 inches. Even with this exception, the handling of bream should be done carefully to ensure their survival upon release.

    Filleted Fish Aboard Vessels

    • Restriction on Filleted Fish: Possessing filleted fish while aboard a vessel in freshwater is generally prohibited. This measure is to ensure that fish size and bag limits are not circumvented and that fish populations are not unduly impacted.
    • Consumption Exception: There is an exception for immediate consumption on board. A person may have no more than 2 pounds of filleted finfish per person on the vessel, provided that the vessel is equipped to cook such finfish. This allowance is made for anglers wanting to enjoy their catch fresh on the water but still ensures that overfishing does not occur.

    Methods for Fishing or Taking Freshwater Fish

    There are many ways to catch fish and other aquatic species in Louisiana’s beautiful rivers, lakes, bayous, ponds and streams. The headings below define the legal methods and illegal methods of take, and certain exceptions that are allowable by species, methods and locations.

    Always check with an LDWF Enforcement Office if you have questions. See Department of Wildlife & Fisheries for contact information.

    Legal Methods of Take

    • Hook and line
    • Bow and arrow -
    • Yo-yos or trigger devices
    • Recreational slat traps -
    • Recreational crawfish traps (must have a minimum mesh size of a hexagon of 3/4 by 11/16 of 1 inch from wire to wire not including any coating on the wire).
    • Standard spearing equipment (used by recreational skin divers submerged in water when sport fishing)
    • Barbed gig (allowed in saltwater for taking flounder ONLY)
    • Recreational hoop nets1
    • Recreational wire nets1
    • Hand-grabbing (noodling)2
    • Bream traps3

    1 Allowed only in the geographical areas of the state designated as Freshwater (see map and definition on General Information).

    2 Allowed for catfish

    3 Must be no longer that 24 inches with a throat no greater than 1 by 3 inches

    Illegal Methods for Fishing or taking All Fish

    It is unlawful to possess any of the prohibited instruments, weapons, substances or devices described below with the intent to take fish.

    • Poisons
    • Spears (see garfish, silver carp and bighead carp exception listed in “Gear Restrictions by Species” section)
    • Stupefying substances or devices
    • Explosives
    • Guns
    • Any instrument or device capable of producing electric current to shock fish
    • Snagging devices (see catfish, silver carp, and big head carp exceptions listed below)

    You may not use any aircraft including fixed-wing, dirigibles, balloons, helicopters, or any other form of aerial surveillance to assist in harvesting finfish, except menhaden and herring-like fish.

    Gear Restrictions by Species

    Some alternative methods are allowed for catching/taking specific aquatic species.

    Freshwater Game fish

    Game fish are defined as largemouth bass, spotted bass, shadow bass, yellow bass, white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, black crappie, white crappie, and bream.

    LEGAL

    • Bream (Lepomis spp.) may be taken as bait for sportfishing purposes (non-commercial bait) using a trap not exceeding 24 inches in length and having a throat no larger than 1 inch by 3 inches.

    NOT LEGAL

    • Standard spearing equipment used by recreational skin divers is prohibited.
    • Bow and arrow
    • Possession of game fish1 with nets or traps including recreational hoop nets, slat traps, pipes, buckets, drums, tires or cans including those licensed for recreational purposes.

    Catfish

    Legal

    • Snagging devices
    • Hand-grabbing (noodling)

    Paddlefish (commonly called “spoonbill catfish,” but are not catfish)

    NOT Legal - snagging devices

    Garfish

    Legal

    • Spears
    • Bows and arrows

    Legal Bait Species

    Including minnows, crawfish and shrimp (does not include game fish1)

    Legal

    • Cast nets
    • Minnow traps
    • Recreational trawls
    • Dip nets (net must be on a fixed frame no larger than 3 feet in diameter worked exclusively by hand, by no more than one person, without any mechanical assistance)
    • Bait seines (with a maximum mesh size not exceeding 1/4 inch bar, 1/2 inch stretched and 30 feet in length; must be operated solely on foot and by hand, without any pulley, mechanical device or assistance whatsoever)

    Silver Carp & Bighead Carp

    Legal

    • Boats
    • Dip nets
    • Spears
    • Snagging

    1With the exception of bream caught in a legal bream trap not exceeding 24 inches in length and having a throat no larger than 1 inch by 3 inches.

    Restrictions and Exceptions by Method

    HOOP NETS, WIRE NETS AND SLAT TRAPS

    • Must be marked with user’s full name and fishing license number on a waterproof tag attached directly to the device

    YO-YOS, TRIGGER DEVICES, TROTLINES, LIMB LINES, JUG LINES AND ALL PASSIVE DEVICES CONTAINING A HOOK OR HOOKS

    • No more than 50 yo-yos, trigger devices, limb lines, or floating devices containing a hook or hooks are allowed per person
    • At any given time, no person shall set more than 150 hooks on all trotlines, combined.
    • All passive hooked gear shall be clearly tagged with the name and telephone number, and fishing license number of the owner or user. Information must be attached with a waterproof tag or written directly on the device in indelible ink.
    • Each hook shall be rebaited at least once every 24 hours, and all fish and any other animal caught, entangled, ensnared or hooked, shall be immediately removed from the device.
    • Except for those devices that are attached to a privately owned pier, boathouse, seawall or dock, gear must be removed from the waterbody immediately by the owner or user when not in use.
    • Where allowed and when not in use, objects sourced from another location used to anchor passive hooked gear which are driven into or attached to the lake bottom, a stump, tree, or the shoreline must be removed from the waterbody along with the passive devices by the user.
    • No driven or attached objects used to attach passive hooked gear shall be larger than 2 inches by 2 inches or two inches in diameter.
    • No metal object which is driven into or attached to the lake bottom, a stump, tree, or the shoreline shall be used to anchor a passive hooked gear, except for a metal object used strictly in the construction of a pier, boathouse, seawall, dock or a retrievable anchor not attached to the bottom.
    • All trotlines shall have a cotton leader on each end of the trotline.

    Divers

    LEGAL

    • Standard spearing equipment is the only legal method of take for non-game species that can be used by a skin diver submerged in water

    NOT LEGAL

    • The taking of gamefish with standard spearing equipment is prohibited.

    Mobility Impaired Individuals

    Mobility impaired persons that are bona fide residents of Louisiana in possession of valid identification, and over 60 years of age, must purchase the applicable license.

    Louisiana Fishing Restrictions by Location

    Location Gear Restrictions
    Black Lake, Clear Lake, Prairie Lake, Caddo Lake, Chicot Lake, D’Arbonne Lake, Lake St. Joseph, Lake Bruin No object driven into the lake bottom or attached to a stump, tree, or shoreline to anchor a yo-yo or trigger device, except for construction of piers, boathouses, seawalls, or docks.
    Poverty Point Lake, Bussey Brake Reservoir No trotlines or yo-yos allowed.
    Anacoco Lake, Lake Vernon, Anacoco Bayou, Lake Bartholomew, Lake Bistineau, Bundick Lake, Caney Creek Reservoir, Cross Lake, Chicot Lake No fish seines, gill nets, hoop nets, or trammel nets.
    Caddo Lake, Lake Claiborne, Lake Concordia, D’Arbonne Lake No fish seines, gill nets, or trammel nets.
    Bogue Chitto River No seines, nets, or webbing; no hand grabbing to take fish from logs, buckets, barrels, drums or nesting areas.
    Lake Charles, Moss Lake, Prien Lake No butterfly nets or shrimp trawls longer than 16 feet, fish seines, gill nets, strike nets, or trammel nets.
    Cypress Lake, Black Bayou Reservoir No fish seines, gill nets, or trammel nets; no hoop nets, slat traps, or wire nets from March 1 - Oct. 31.
    Fool River No fish seines.
    Lacassine Bayou No gill nets, hoop nets, or trammel nets from March 1 - Nov. 30 (in the portion that flows through Lacassine National Refuge).
    Nantachie Lake, Poverty Point Reservoir, Bussey Brake Reservoir No nets allowed.
    Tchefuncte River No seines, nets or webbing; no traps in the river or its tributaries.
    Toledo Bend Reservoir No gill nets, trammel nets, flag webbing, or fish seines; no hoop nets from March 1 to May 15 in specific portions.
    Poverty Point Lake No slat traps.

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    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.