Before fishing, it's important to familiarize yourself with the general provisions and regulations regarding licenses, fishing methods and other restrictions outlined by your state government. The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement among 26 states to share information regarding hunting, fishing and trapping license suspensions. To learn about game fishing regulations where you live, contact the fish and game department, or its equivalent, in your state.
Sport Fishing Licenses
Anglers must obtain a sport fishing license, and in some states must display the license on their outer clothing above the waist. As of 2010, some states, such as California, no longer required anglers to display their sport fishing licenses. However, it must remain in your possession at all times when you are fishing. Failure to obtain and/or display proper licenses is illegal and may result in fines and the suspension of your sport fishing license. Other unlawful activities include using a sport fishing license that is not completely filled out, and transferring a license, tag, permit or application to an unauthorized person.
Bag and Possession Limits
Bag and possession limits are strictly enforced to preserve fish species populations. Limitations are assigned on a per-species basis and may apply to specific water sources. For example, in California, statewide bag and possession limits for hatchery trout and steelhead are two fish per day and a maximum of four fish in one's possession at any one time. Sunfish and Crappie, on the other hand, are subject to a combined bag limit of 25 fish. Bag limits can change frequently, and may only be restricted to specified rivers and streams, so contact authorities in your state to learn more about bag limits and possession laws.
Fishing nets are subject to greater laws and restrictions than fishing poles. In 1992, a global moratorium on large-scale drift nets was introduced. The moratorium and other net fishing laws are enforced to reduce the exploitation of living resources and prevent non-target fish such as dolphins, turtles and sharks from becoming trapped inside the netting. Gill nets, trap nets and drift nets are examples of fishing nets that are subject to statewide regulations, including permits and licenses.