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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Recreational Fishing Size and Bag Limits

Marine Fisheries

fishing gear

N.C. Recreational Coastal Waters Guide
for Sports Fishermen

Current Version Effective: Sept. 1, 2014
(Website chart reflects the most recent changes to size and bag limits)

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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 Finder and Recreational Fishing Reports
Why do we have fishing regulations?

Current Weakfish bag limit effective May 16, 2010. See FF-54-2010
Current Snapper/Grouper rules effective March 7, 2014. See FF-19-2014
Current Spotted Seatrout size and bag limits effective June 15, 2014. See FF-39-2014
For inland fishing regulations, contact Wildlife Resources Commission 919-707-0220
or visit their website www.ncwildlife.org

 State Coastal Waters
(Internal and 0-3 Miles)
Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ
(3-200 miles)
Finfish Species
(note symbols, pg.2)
Minimum LengthBag Limits
(Per Person)
Minimum LengthBag Limits
(Per Person)
Alewife and
blueback herring
NoneUNLAWFUL TO POSSESSNoneUNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Amberjack, greater28" FL1/Day28" FL1/Day
Bass, striped
See striped bass details
(A)(A)UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
BluefishNone15/Day
Only 5 greater than 24" TL

None

15/Day
Cobia33" FL2/Day33" FL2/Day
Dolphin (B)None10/DayNone10/Day
Drum, black14"-25" TL (C)10/Day14"-25" TL (C)10/Day
Drum, red
(Channel Bass,
Puppy Drum)
18-27" TL (C)1/DayUNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Eel, American (Q)9" TL25/Day9" TL25/Day
Flounder
Gulf, Southern, Summer
15" TL6/Day15" TL 6/Day
Grouper (H, I, J, K)UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS SHALLOW WATER GROUPER
JAN. 1 THROUGH APRIL 30
UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS SHALLOW WATER GROUPER
JAN. 1 THROUGH APRIL 30
Grouper;
Red, scamp, yellowfin, yellowmouth
20" TL3/Day (all grouper combined; includes tilefish and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined) (J) & (K)20" TL3/Day (all grouper combined; includes, tilefish and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined) (J) & (K)
Grouper
black and gag
24" TL1/Day (See above)24" TL1/Day
(See above)
Grouper, snowy, Golden Tilefish (K) NO POSSESSION NO POSSESSION
Hogfish
(Hog snapper)
12" FL5/Day12" FL 
Mackerel, king (I)
Species Identification
24" FL3/Day24" FL3/Day
Mackerel, Spanish (I)
Species Identification
12" FL15/Day12" FL15/Day
Marlin, blue (G)99" LJFL1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin99" LJFLState rules apply when landing
Marlin, white (G)66" LJFL1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin66" LJFLState rules apply when landing
Mullet
(Striped and White)
None200/Day
(species combined)
None 
Porgy, red
(Silver snapper, pinky)
14" TL3/Day14" TL3/Day
Reef Complex Species Includes spadefish, gray triggerfish, white grunt, knobbed porgy and more (see notes H and I)  20/Day 20/Day
Sailfish (G)63" LJFL1/Day63" LJFL 
Scup
(North of Cape Hatteras only)
8” TL50/Day9” TL30/Day
Seatrout, spotted (speckled)14” TL4/Day14” TL4/Day
Sea bass, black
(North of Cape Hatteras) (D)
12 1/2" TL15/Day12 1/2" TL15/Day
Sea bass, black
(South of Cape Hatteras)
13" TL5/Day13" TL5/Day
Shad, American (O)None(O)UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Shad, hickory (O)None10/DayNone10/Day
Sharks (E, I, L)
(excluding Smoothhound Sharks (smooth dogfish) and Spiny Dogfish)
(E, I, L)1/Vessel/Day(E, I, L)1/Vessel/Day
Sharks, Atlantic sharpnose, smooth dogfish and bonnethead (E)None(E)None(E)
Snappers;
Dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen, yellowtail, silk and blackfin
12" TL10/Day
(Species combined)
12" TL10/Day
(Species combined)
Snappers, mutton 16" TLSee Above16" TLSee Above
Snappers; Lane8" TLSee Above8" TLSee Above
Snapper, redUNLAWFUL TO POSSESSUNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Snapper, vermilion (J) 12" TL5/Day12" TL 5/Day
TarponNone1/DayNone1/Day
Tuna (I); bluefin (G), yellowfin and bigeye Yellowfin 27" CFL
Bigeye 27" CFL
Bigeye and Yellowfin 3 per dayBigeye and Yellowfin tuna
27" CFL
Yellowfin Tuna
3 per day
Wahoo None2/DayNone2/Day
Weakfish
(gray trout)
12" TL

1/Day
see FF-54-2010

12" TLState rules apply when landing
Wreckfish (P)None1/vessel/dayNone
1/vessel/day

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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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