Freshwater Smelt Regulations and Seasons

Bag Limits and General Rules

The daily bag limit for freshwater smelt is set at 2 quarts liquid measure of whole smelt, encompassing both head and tail intact, within a 24-hour period starting from 12 noon one day to 12 noon the next day. It is mandatory for individuals harvesting smelt to store their catch in separate, unbreakable containers clearly labeled with their name. Furthermore, the use of a boat propelled by mechanical power is prohibited while taking smelt.

Season for Taking Smelt by Angling

From June 16 to March 14, smelt can only be taken by angling, with exceptions for Trout and Fly-Fishing-Only ponds, open from June 16 to October 15. Tributaries are off-limits to smelt angling from March 16 to June 15. Moreover, tributaries are entirely closed for smelt angling from October 16 to December 31.

Season for Taking Smelt with a Dip Net

Between March 15 and April 30, smelt can be harvested using a dip net not exceeding 18 inches in diameter, but only during the hours between sunset and 12 midnight. The following bodies of water are designated for the taking of freshwater smelt using dip nets:


  • Deering Reservoir - Deering
  • Manning Lake/Guinea Pond - Gilmanton
  • Pea Porridge Pond - Madison
  • Rust Pond - Wolfeboro
  • Sandy Pond - Richmond
  • Suncook Lake - Barnstead
  • Sunset Lake/Places Pond - Alton, Gilmanton
  • Webster Lake - Franklin


  • Bearcamp River (From Tamworth/Ossipee town line to Ossipee Lake) - Ossipee
  • Mascoma River (From Canaan/Enfield town line to Mascoma Lake) - Enfield

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