North Carolina Salt Water Fishing Regulations

North Carolina Salt Water Fishing Regulations
North Carolina's coastal waters, its rivers and sounds, offer many opportunities to catch saltwater fish. To protect saltwater species and make sure they are plentiful for future generations, the state has put in place strict regulations concerning saltwater fishing. The rules are very straightforward, and following them will ensure fishing remains a popular past time in NC for years to come.

Fishing Licenses

There are three different types of coastal recreational fishing licenses issued by NC's Division of Marine Fisheries: fishing enthusiasts can choose between a ten-day, annual, or lifetime license depending on their needs. Once you have the license, you will be able to catch fin fish for your own personal consumption anywhere in salt water areas which includes the state's sounds, coastal rivers and their tributaries, and as far out as three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Selling any fish you catch is considered illegal.


Size and Possession Limits

Licensed recreational fishermen are bound by North Carolina's recreational size and possession limits, which strictly regulate the size, length, amount and type of fish and shell fish you can catch in salt water areas. The specifics surrounding the almost 40 different types of fish you can catch are outlined in the 2009 North Carolina Recreational Coastal Waters Guide for Sports Fishermen Recreational Size and Possession Limits chart listed in the resources section below. You cannot catch the following according to the state's Division of Marine Fisheries: certain shark species like whale, basking, white, sand tiger, bigeye sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapogos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, silky, sevengill, sixgill, and smalltail), sturgeon, Nassau grouper, Goliath grouper (jewfish), and spearfish.


The state's Division of Marine Fisheries states that if you are less than 16 years old, or you bought any one of six specific licenses listed below before January 1, 2006, you are exempt from the Size and Possession Limits regulations listed in Section 2:
1. All categories of Lifetime Sportsman licenses
2. Lifetime Resident Comprehensive Fishing License
3. Lifetime Combination Hunting and Fishing License for Disabled Resident Sportsman
4. Disabled Resident Sportsman
5. Lifetime Fishing License for the Legally Blind
6. Adult Care Home Resident Fishing License


Article Written By Virginia Franco

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.

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