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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: June 17, 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

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 Length Bag Limits
(Per Person)
Minimum Length Bag Limits
(Per Person)
Alewife and
blueback herring
None UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS None UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Amberjack, greater 28" FL 1/Day 28" FL 1/Day
Bass, striped
See striped bass details
(A) (A) UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Bluefish None 15/Day
Only 5 greater than 24" TL

None

15/Day
Cobia 33" FL 2/Day 33" FL 2/Day
Dolphin (B) None 10/Day None 10/Day
Drum, black 14"-25" TL (C) 10/Day 14"-25" TL (C) 10/Day
Drum, red
(Channel Bass,
Puppy Drum)
18-27" TL (C) 1/Day UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Eel, American (Q) 9" TL 25/Day 9" TL 25/Day
Flounder
Gulf, Southern, Summer
15" TL 6/Day 15" 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 and tilefish (no size limit on tilefish)
20" TL 3/Day (all grouper combined; includes tilefish and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined) (J) & (K) 20" TL 3/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" TL 1/Day (See above) 24" TL 1/Day
(See above)
Grouper, snowy None 1/Vessel/Day None 1/Vessel/Day
Hogfish
(Hog snapper)
12" FL 5/Day 12" FL  
Mackerel, king (I)
Species Identification
24" FL 3/Day 24" FL 3/Day
Mackerel, Spanish (I)
Species Identification
12" FL 15/Day 12" FL 15/Day
Marlin, blue (G) 99" LJFL 1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin 99" LJFL
State rules apply when landing
Marlin, white (G) 66" LJFL 1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin 66" LJFL
Mullet
(Striped and White)
None 200/Day
(species combined)
None  
Porgy, red
(Silver snapper, pinky)
14" TL 3/Day 14" TL 3/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" LJFL 1/Day 63" LJFL  
Scup
(North of Cape Hatteras only)
8” TL 50/Day 9” TL 30/Day
Seatrout, spotted (speckled) 14” TL 4/Day 14” TL 4/Day
Sea bass, black
(North of Cape Hatteras) (D)
12 1/2" TL 15/Day 12 1/2" TL 15/Day
Sea bass, black
(South of Cape Hatteras)
13" TL 5/Day 13" TL 5/Day
Shad, American (O) None (O) UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Shad, hickory (O) None 10/Day None 10/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" TL 10/Day
(Species combined)
12" TL 10/Day
(Species combined)
Snappers, mutton 16" TL See Above 16" TL See Above
Snappers; Lane 8" TL See Above 8" TL See Above
Snapper, red UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS, exception to dates listed (J)
UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS, exception to dates listed (J)
Snapper, vermilion (J) 12" TL 5/Day 12" TL 5/Day
Tarpon None 1/Day None 1/Day
Tuna (I); bluefin (G), yellowfin and bigeye Yellowfin 27" CFL
Bigeye 27" CFL
Bigeye and Yellowfin 3 per day Bigeye and Yellowfin tuna
27" CFL
Yellowfin Tuna
3 per day
Wahoo None 2/Day None 2/Day
Weakfish
(gray trout)
12" TL

1/Day
see FF-54-2010

12" TL State rules apply when landing
Wreckfish (P) None 1/vessel/day None
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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