skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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

Marine Fisheries

recreational fishing from boat

N.C. Recreational Coastal Waters Guide
for Sports Fishermen

Current Version Effective: May 23, 2016
(Website chart reflects the most recent changes to size and bag limits)

CLICK HERE for printer-friendly version (update to come)
Smartphone and tablet users — view as mobile device webpage 


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 and 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 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, greater
28" FL1/Day28" FL1/Day
(A)(A)UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
None15/Day
Only 5 greater than 24" TL

None

15/Day
37" FLSee Proclamation FF-25-201633" FLState rules apply when landing
None10/DayNone10/Day
Drum, black
14"-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 (R)
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
(SEE NOTE J)
UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
SHALLOW WATER GROUPER
JAN. 1 THROUGH APRIL 30
(SEE NOTE J)
Grouper
Red, scamp, yellowfin, yellowmouth grouper and tilefish (no size limit on tilefish)
20" TL

3/Day (all grouper combined; includes 1 golden tilefish and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined)
(J) & (K)

20" TL

3/Day (all grouper combined; includes 1 golden 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 and blueline tilefish (K)
1/vessel/day (included in 3 grouper aggregate)
Harvest allowed May 1 through Aug. 31
1/vessel/day (included in 3 grouper aggregate)
Harvest allowed May 1 through Aug. 31
Hogfish
(Hog snapper) (I)
12" FL5/Day12" FL5/Day
24" FL3/Day24" FL3/Day
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
63" LJFL1/Day63" LJFL 
Scup
(North of Cape Hatteras only)
8” TL50/Day9” TL50/Day
Seatrout, spotted (speckled)
14” TL4/Day14” TL4/Day
Sea bass, black
(North of Cape Hatteras) (D)
12.5" TL
15/day12.5" TL
15/day
Sea bass, black
(South of Cape Hatteras)
13" TL5/Day13" TL5/Day
Shad, American (O)
None(O)UNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Shad, hickory (O)
None(O)None10/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)
Sheepshead
10” FL10/DayState rules apply when landingState rules apply
when landing
Snapper-Grouper Complex Species Includes spadefish, gray triggerfish, white grunt, knobbed porgy and more (see notes H and I)
N/A20/DayN/A20/Day
Snappers:
Dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen and yellowtail, silk, blackfin and black (no size limit) snapper
12" TL10/Day
(Species combined)
12" TL10/Day
(Species combined)
Snapper, mutton
16" TLSee Above16" TLSee Above
Snapper, lane
8" TLSee Above8" TLSee Above
Snapper, red
UNLAWFUL TO POSSESSUNLAWFUL TO POSSESS
Snapper, vermilion
12" TL5/Day12" TL 5/Day
Tarpon
None1/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
None2/DayNone2/Day
Weakfish
(gray trout)
12" TL

1/Day

12" TLState rules apply when landing
Wreckfish (P)
None1/Vessel/DayNone
1/Vessel/Day

See pages 2 and 3 for additional information

Pages: 1  2  3  

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

NCDMF logo

38337 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.