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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - RecGuide mobile

Marine Fisheries

surf fisher

Current Version Effective: June 15, 2018
(Website chart reflects the most recent changes to size and bag limits)

CLICK HERE for printer-friendly PDF version

Download the Fish Rules mobile app

Recreational Size and Creel Limits — mobile device format

Coastal Recreational Fishing License: Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2

See also: Fish Identification | Recreational Fishing Reports | Why do we have fishing regulations?


For inland fishing regulations, contact Wildlife Resources Commission 919-707-0220 or visit their website www.ncwildlife.org

 

STATE of N.C.
COASTAL WATERS

(Internal and 0-3 miles)

FEDERAL
MANAGEMENT
INFORMATION

FINFISH SPECIES
(note symbols)

N.C.
Minimum
Length

N.C. Bag
Limits

(per person)

 

Bluefish

None

15/Day, only 5 greater than
24” TL

Federal Management Information:
https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries
.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/
bluefish/index.html

Cobia

See the most recent Cobia
DMF proclamation at www.ncmarinefisheries.net

Federal Management Information:
http://safmc.net/regulations/

Wahoo

None

2/Day

Dolphin (B)

None

10/Day

King Mackerel (H)

24” FL

3/Day

Spanish Mackerel (H)

12” FL

15/Day

Tuna: Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin (G)

Bigeye and
Yellowfin tuna
27” Curved FL

Yellowfin tuna
3/Day

Federal Management Information:
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/
atlantic-highly-migratory-species

Smoothhounds, Smooth Dogfish and Spiny Dogfish

None

None

Federal Management Information:
https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.
noaa.gov/sustainable/species/
sdogfish/index.html

Sharks (G)

See most recent DMF
proclamation at www.ncmarinefisheries.net

Federal Management Information:
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/
atlantic-highly-migratory-species

Blue Marlin (G)

99” LJFL

1 per vessel
per trip, either
blue marlin
or white marlin

Blue Marlin (G)

66” LJFL

Sailfish (G)

63” LJFL

1/Day

Red Drum
(Channel Bass, Puppy Drum)

  (C)  triangle so pretty

18” – 27” TL

1/Day

Federal Management Information:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/
CFR-2017-title50-vol13/pdf/CFR-2017- title50-vol13-sec697-7.pdf

Flounder 
triangle so pretty

15” TL

4/Day

Federal Management Information:
https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.
noaa.gov/sustainable/
recfishing/regs/index.html

Spotted Seatrout
(Speckled Trout)
triangle so pretty

14" TL 4/Day No Federal Regulations

Weakfish
(Gray Trout) triangle so pretty

12” TL

1/Day

Federal Management Information:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2017-title50-vol13
/pdf/CFR-2017-title50-
vol13-sec697-7.pdf

Sheepshead

10” FL

10/Day

No Federal Regulations

Black Drum (C)

14” – 25” TL

10/Day

No Federal Regulations

Tarpon

None

1/Day

No Federal Regulations

Striped Bass

(A)

(A)

Federal Management Information:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2017-title50-vol13 /pdf/CFR-2017-title50-vol13-sec697-7.pdf

American Shad (D)

None

(D)

No Federal Regulations

Hickory Shad (D)

None

(D)

No Federal Regulations

Alewife and Blueback Herring

UNLAWFUL
TO POSSESS

No Federal Regulations

American Eel (E)

9” TL

25/Day

No Federal Regulations

Scup
(North of Cape Hatteras only)

8” TL

50/Day

Federal Management Information:
https://www.greateratlantic.
fisheries.noaa.gov/
sustainable/recfishing/regs
/index.html

Black Sea Bass
(North of Cape Hatteras)
12 ½” TL 15/Day Federal Management Information:
https://www.greateratlantic.
fisheries.noaa.gov/
sustainable/recfishing/regs/
index.html
Black Sea Bass
(South of Cape Hatteras)
13” TL 7/Day Federal Management Information:
http://safmc.net/regulations/

Snappers, Groupers, Porgys, Triggerfish, Jacks, Tilefish, Grunts, Spadefishes, Wrasses and Sea Basses (H)

See the most recent
Snapper/Grouper
Complex recreational
DMF proclamation at www.ncmarinefisheries.net

Federal Management Information:
http://safmc.net/regulations/

Mullet
(striped and white)

200/Day (species combined)

No Federal Regulations

PROHIBITED FINFISH SPECIES

COASTAL WATERS (Internal waters and Atlantic Ocean out to 3 miles)

Sharks: whale, basking, white, sand tiger, bigeye sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapagos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, silky, sevengill, sixgill, and smalltail. Other finfish: river herring, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, Nassau grouper, Goliath grouper, Warsaw grouper, speckled hind and red snapper.

SHELLFISH and CRUSTACEANS

STATE COASTAL AND EEZ WATERS (Internal and 0-200 miles)

Minimum Size

Bag Limits (per person)

BLUE CRAB (F)

5” Carapace Width

50 Crabs/Day not to exceed 100 Crabs/Vessel/Day

STONE CRAB CLAWS (J)

2 ¾ Propodus Length

UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS from June 15 – August 15
(no possession limit during open season) 

SPINY LOBSTER (K) 3” Carapace Length (L) 2/day not to exceed 2/Vessel/Day

HARD CLAM

1” Thick

100 Clams/Day not to exceed 200 Clams/Vessel/Day

OYSTER (I)

3” Shell Length

SEASON CLOSED – UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS

BAY SCALLOP

SEASON CLOSED – UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS

CONCHS and WHELKS

None

10/Day not to exceed 20/Vessel/Day

MUSSELS

None

100/Day not to exceed 200/Vessel/Day

SHRIMP

Closed Shrimping Area

None

4 quarts (heads on) or 2 ½ quarts (heads off) of shrimp per person per day (Cast Net Only)

Open Shrimping Area

None

48 quarts (heads on) or 30 quarts (heads off) of shrimp per person per day or if vessel is used, per vessel per day (RCGL max. limit of 2/Vessel)

 

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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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