Alabama Fishing Regulations

In Alabama, anglers are required to adhere to several important regulations to ensure sustainable and legal fishing across the state's diverse waterways. Here's a concise summary of key rules:

  • Access and Seasons: Public streams, lakes, and ponds are generally open year-round, excluding some state-managed Public Fishing Lakes (PFLs).
  • Daily Limits and Possession: It's unlawful to possess more than the daily limit for any fish, with specific exceptions for catch-and-release practices during sanctioned fishing tournaments.
  • Size Restrictions: Possession of fish smaller or larger than established size restrictions is prohibited. Size is measured from the front of the mouth to the tip of the tail with both closed.
  • Transportation Limits: Transporting more than one day’s creel limit of any species of fish beyond state boundaries is illegal.
  • Fishing on Private Property: Fishing in public waters from posted private land or in private waters without the owner's permission is illegal.
  • Fish Handling: It's unlawful to fillet a fish or remove heads while fishing or to possess fillets of fish while on public waters, except when preparing for immediate consumption. Fish may be drawn or gutted with heads left attached.
  • Live Baitfish: Transporting live baitfish caught from local waters away from the site of capture or importing them from outside the state is prohibited.

Alabama's Designated Game Fish

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish Family: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, Shoal, Coosa, Warrior, Cahaba, Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee, and Alabama Bass (formerly known as Spotted Bass in the Mobile drainage)
  • Bream: Rock Bass, Flier, Shadow Bass, Warmouth, Redbreast, Bluegill, Longear, Redear (Shellcracker)
  • Crappie: Black and White Crappie
  • Temperate Bass Family: Saltwater Striped, White, Yellow Bass, and any hybrids
  • Pike Family: Chain, Redfin, and Grass Pickerel
  • Perch Family: Sauger (Jack), Walleye, Yellow Perch

Regulations on the Sale of Game Fish in Alabama

Selling or offering for sale game fish caught or taken from fresh waters within or outside Alabama is unlawful. Exceptions include:

  1. Game Fish from Hatcheries: Sold for stocking ponds and lakes.
  2. Non-Native Game Fish: Raised for human consumption (e.g., trout, salmon).
  3. Specific Farm-Raised Species: Largemouth bass, shellcracker, yellow perch, and bluegill (bream) can be sold with a permit from the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division.

Legal Methods for Catching Game Fish in Alabama

In Alabama, game fish must be caught using specific legal methods:

  • Ordinary Hook and Line
  • Artificial Lure
  • Live Bait
  • Troll
  • Spinner

It's illegal to use electrical devices, explosives, poisons, or firearms to catch any species of fish in public waters.

Rod Limitations in Alabama

In Alabama, anglers can use any number of rods in most public waters except:

  • Weiss or Neely Henry Reservoir: Maximum of three rods and reels, poles, or any combination.
  • Sipsey Fork River (Lewis Smith Dam to Mulberry Fork): Maximum of two rods and reels, poles, or any combination.

Bream as Bait Regulations

All species of bream may be used as bait provided they are legally caught by hook and line and the total number of bream in possession does not exceed the daily creel limit. No other game fish species may be used for bait.

Spearfishing Regulations in Alabama

Spearfishing is legal in Alabama for nongame or commercial fish in all waters, fresh and salt, under the following conditions:

  1. Complete Submersion: The individual must be fully submerged while spearfishing.
  2. Licenses: Possession of the appropriate sport fishing and spearfishing licenses is required.
  3. License Issuance: Licenses are issued by the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division, Marine Resources Division, and available online.

For more details or to obtain an application packet, contact (334) 242-3465 or visit

Snagging Regulations in Alabama

Snagging, or the act of fishing by dragging hooks to catch fish, is subject to strict regulations in Alabama:

  • Prohibited Areas: It is illegal to snag fish on the Chattahoochee River and its impoundments, the Tennessee River and its impoundments, and all State-owned public fishing lakes.
  • Proximity to Dams: Snagging is also prohibited within 800 feet of any dam on the Coosa River or its impoundments.

Jug Fishing Regulations in Alabama

Jug fishing is allowed in most public water bodies in Alabama under these conditions:

  • License Requirement: A sport fishing license is required where applicable.
  • Identification on Jugs: Jugs do not need to be labeled with angler identification.
  • Number of Jugs: There is no restriction on the number of jugs used.
  • Removal after Use: All jugs must be removed from the water at the end of the fishing trip.
  • Restrictions: Jug fishing is prohibited in State-owned Public Fishing Lakes (PFLs).

Trotline Fishing Regulations in Alabama

Trotline fishing in Alabama is subject to specific rules:

  • Proximity Restrictions: Illegal to fish with a trotline within one-half mile below any lock, dam, or powerhouse.
  • Hook Limit for Recreational Fishermen: Limited to 100 hooks total on trotlines.
  • Identification Tags: Trotlines must have a tag with the owner's name and address, fishing license number, conservation ID number, or phone number.
  • Commercial Fishing: Trotlines under commercial licenses have no hook number limitations.

Wire Basket Fishing Regulations in Alabama

Use of wire baskets for fishing in Alabama is regulated as follows:

  • Restricted Use: Allowed only in specific counties for harvesting non-game fish for personal consumption.
  • Commercial License Holders: Individuals with a commercial fishing license are prohibited from using wire baskets.
  • Sale Prohibition: Fish caught in wire baskets cannot be sold or offered for sale.
  • Game Fish Handling: Any game fish caught in wire baskets must be immediately returned to the water.
  • Identification Requirement: Baskets must have a tag with the wire basket license number and the user's name.
  • Local Regulations: Consult the Alabama Game, Fish, Furbearers, and Other Wildlife Regulation Book or local Conservation Enforcement Officer for the legal number of baskets and permitted locations.

Regulations for Gigs or Grabbling/Noodling in Alabama

  • Target Species: Legal for commercial or non-game fish.
  • License Requirement: Must have a valid sport fishing license.
  • Hook Restrictions: Illegal to use any treble hook or barbed hook. Only single barbless hooks are allowed.

Bowfishing Equipment Regulations in Alabama

  • Permitted Bows: Longbow, recurve bow, compound bow, or crossbow.
  • Arrow Type: Barbed arrows attached by a line to the bow, float, vessel, or shooter.
  • Target Species: Legal for commercial or non-game fish.
  • License Requirement: A valid sport fishing license is required.

Regulations for Taking Minnows and Shad for Bait in Alabama

Licensed anglers can take minnows, shad, and certain suckers as bait under these conditions:

  • Allowed Gear: Use of a cast net, minnow jug, minnow basket (not exceeding 24 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter with a funnel entrance no more than one inch in diameter), dip net, or minnow seine (not exceeding 25 feet in length and 4 feet in width/depth).
  • Purpose: For the exclusive use as fish bait.
  • Location Restrictions: No seines in un-impounded tributary streams and creeks.
  • Bycatch Handling: All game fish and other fish accidentally caught must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
  • Dip Nets for Landing: Dip nets are permissible to land legally caught fish.
  • Transportation of Live Baitfish: Prohibited to transport live baitfish to other bodies of water.

Mussel Harvest for Bait Regulations in Alabama

Licensed anglers in Alabama are allowed to collect Asiatic Clams (Corbicula) for fish bait using:

  • Hands
  • Rake
  • Dip Net: The dip net must not be wider than 24 inches.

Zebra Mussel Alert in Alabama

The zebra mussel, a highly invasive freshwater mussel, has affected many southern water bodies, notably the Tennessee and Black Warrior Rivers. They pose significant ecological threats, including:

  • Disruption of Food Chains: Affecting native species and fish populations.
  • Boater Responsibility: Boaters significantly contribute to the spread of zebra mussels through watercraft movement.

To report sightings or for more information, contact the Fisheries Section at (334) 242-3471.

Public Water Stocking Regulations

It is prohibited to intentionally introduce or release any aquatic species, including fish, mussels, snails, crayfish, or their embryos, into Alabama's public waters under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, except in the following circumstances:

  • Written Permission: Written permission from a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, is required to stock or release any species.
  • Incidental Bait Release: The rule does not apply to the unintentional release of bait during regular fishing activities.

Learn to Fish with Go Fish, Alabama!

If you've ever wanted to learn how to fish or simply enjoy the thrill of the catch, the Go Fish, Alabama! Program is the perfect opportunity for you and your family. This program is designed for adults and families with little-to-no fishing experience and offers a chance to fish with skilled mentors guiding you every step of the way.

What You Can Expect:

  • Guided Fishing Experience: Learn the ropes of fishing from experienced mentors.
  • All Equipment Provided: Don't worry about gear; everything you need is supplied.
  • Convenient Locations: Events take place at various fishing spots across Alabama, many within a short drive of metropolitan areas.
  • Safe and Welcoming Environment: Enjoy fishing in a safe, friendly, and instructive setting.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Events last approximately four hours and are available on both weekends and weekdays.

Whether you're interested in putting fresh fish on the dinner table, spending quality time outdoors with friends and family, or simply enjoying the joy of fishing, Go Fish, Alabama! is here to make it happen.

For more details about this program and upcoming events, visit It's time to cast your line and start your fishing adventure!

Alabama Angler Recognition Program

If you're an angler who loves the thrill of catching large sportfish from Alabama's waters, the Angler Recognition Program is your chance to earn recognition for your fishing achievements. This program not only acknowledges your accomplishments but also provides valuable statistics for biologists studying our reservoirs. The program comprises four categories:

Master Angler

  • Anglers can submit applications for Master Angler status based on their fish's total length or total weight, but not both.
  • There's no limit to the number of applications you can submit.

Trophy Angler

  • Similar to Master Angler, anglers can apply based on total length or total weight, with no restriction on the number of applications.

Lake Record

  • Anglers who catch a record-breaking fish in a specific lake can earn Lake Record status.

State Record

  • The ultimate recognition, reserved for anglers who land a fish that breaks state records.

To get started and learn more about the application process, specific requirements, and instructions, you can obtain the necessary information from any District Fisheries Office or visit

The Bass Anglers Information Team (BAIT) Program

The Bass Anglers Information Team (BAIT) Program is a collaborative effort between bass clubs and the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). This voluntary partnership plays a crucial role in gathering and summarizing valuable information about bass fishing. Here's what you need to know:

  • Purpose: The primary purpose of the BAIT Program is to compile data related to bass fishing. This data is then utilized by WFF fisheries biologists, who incorporate it into their reservoir surveys. This information forms the foundation for making informed fisheries management decisions.

  • Benefits: BAIT data serves as a valuable tool for fisheries biologists. It allows them to detect patterns and trends in bass populations, providing insights into the factors that influence these populations. This knowledge is essential for effective fisheries management.

    • Club Participation: Bass clubs play a significant role in the BAIT Program. They actively contribute to the collection of data by providing information on their bass fishing activities. This includes details about the locations of their tournaments, the number of anglers participating, and the weights of the bass caught.

    • Annual Report: Each year, a comprehensive report is generated based on the data collected through the BAIT Program. This report is a valuable resource for both fisheries biologists and participating bass clubs. It provides a summary of the state of bass populations and trends, helping clubs make informed decisions about tournament locations.

    • Contact Information: If you're interested in learning more about the BAIT Program or want to get involved, you can contact the Fisheries Section at (334) 242-3471. You can also reach out via email to Keith Henderson at Additionally, more details can be found on the official website at

    The BAIT Program is a valuable initiative that fosters collaboration between anglers and wildlife officials, ultimately contributing to the sustainable management of bass populations in Alabama's waters.

Life Jacket Requirements Below Dams

When it comes to safety around hydroelectric dams and navigation lock and dams in Alabama, strict regulations are in place to protect individuals operating vessels. Here are the key requirements:

  • Operating Restrictions: It is unlawful for any person to operate any vessel on the waters of Alabama within 800 feet below a hydroelectric dam and/or navigation lock and dam.

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs): To ensure the safety of everyone aboard, including the operator, specific requirements for personal flotation devices (PFDs) must be followed. These PFDs must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and fall into one of the following categories: Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V.

Public Boating Access Areas

Public boating access areas in Alabama are designated for various recreational activities, including pleasure boating, hunting, and fishing. Here is an overview of regulations governing the use of these areas:

  • Facilities: Public access areas typically include state-owned and/or operated facilities such as boat launching ramps, parking lots, piers, and other amenities.

  • Intended Uses: These areas are intended for the enjoyment of several recreational activities, including pleasure boating, hunting, and fishing. However, specific regulations apply to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

  • Picnicking: Picnicking is allowed in these areas but only at designated areas where picnic tables are provided. Visitors are encouraged to use these facilities responsibly.

Prohibited Activities at Public Boating Access Areas

When visiting public boating access areas in Alabama, it's important to adhere to the regulations in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors. Here are the activities that are prohibited at these access areas:

  1. Littering: Disposing of trash or litter in these areas is strictly prohibited. Visitors are expected to properly dispose of their waste in designated receptacles.

  2. Camping or Building Fires: Camping and setting up fires are not allowed in these areas. They are intended for day-use recreational activities.

  3. Loitering: Prolonged loitering without engaging in the designated recreational activities is discouraged.

  4. Discharging Firearms: Unless otherwise provided by law, the discharge of firearms is not permitted in these areas.

  5. Alcoholic Beverages: The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited within these areas.

  6. Swimming, Diving, Jumping, or Sunbathing: These activities are not allowed within 50 yards of any ramp or pier to ensure safety.

  7. Blocking Ramps, Piers, or Approaches: Visitors should not obstruct ramps, piers, or their approaches with vehicles or trailers, ensuring smooth access for others.

  8. Operation of Unlicensed Vehicles: Operating unlicensed vehicles, such as ATVs, is generally not allowed. Exceptions may apply for mobility-impaired individuals in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  9. Solicitation, Sales, Advertising, or Sign Installation: These commercial activities are prohibited at public access areas.

  10. Damage to Natural Features: Visitors should not damage or remove any trees, bushes, shrubs, plants, or flowers in these areas.

  11. Operation of Commercial or Industrial Equipment: Operating commercial, industrial, or construction equipment without prior written approval from the Fisheries Section is not allowed.

Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations

This pamphlet provides information on freshwater sport fishing laws and regulations in Alabama. For details regarding freshwater commercial fishing or musseling, please refer to the state website at, contact us at (334) 242-3465, or visit the nearest District Office (Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries District Offices). We are here to assist you with any inquiries related to commercial fishing and musseling in freshwater areas.

Boating Operator License Requirements

In compliance with The Roberson-Archer Act and The Boating Safety Enhancement Act of 2001, it is imperative to note that no individual under the age of 12 is permitted to operate a motorized vessel. Furthermore, every vessel operator is required to hold a valid license and must have it in their possession while operating a vessel.

To obtain a vessel operator’s license or for more information, please reach out to the ALEA Marine Trooper Division at (334) 517-2930. You can also visit and navigate to the "Boating" section for additional details on licensing procedures.

Boating License Requirements for Alabama Residents

For Alabama residents, the following requirements apply when it comes to obtaining a boating license:

  • The applicant must be 12 years old or older, but they cannot operate a vessel alone until they reach the age of 14.
  • Operators who are 12 or 13 years old, and have obtained the vessel operator's license, can only operate if there is an adult onboard who is 21 years old or older and holds a vessel operator's license. This adult must also have the license in possession and be seated in a position to take immediate control of the vessel if necessary.
  • A licensed operator who is 14 years old or older may legally operate a vessel without supervision.
  • It's important to note that possession of a certificate of completion for a boating course is not a substitute for a vessel license.

Boating License Requirements for Nonresidents

Nonresidents who wish to operate vessels in Alabama should be aware of the following license requirements:

  • Nonresidents aged 12 and older may operate on Alabama waters for up to 45 days per calendar year without obtaining an Alabama vessel operator's license.
  • However, operators who are 12 or 13 years old can only operate if an adult who is 21 years old or older and either possesses an Alabama vessel operator's license or falls under the 45-day exemption period is onboard. This adult must be seated in a position to take immediate control of the vessel if necessary.
  • If a nonresident plans to operate a vessel in Alabama for more than 45 days, they must obtain an Alabama Nonresident Vessel Operator's License.
  • Nonresidents who have obtained a vessel certification or license from their home state may use that license in lieu of the Alabama Nonresident Vessel Operator's License.

Saltwater Fishing Regulations

If you're interested in saltwater fishing in Alabama, please note the following:

  • For information regarding saltwater fishing license requirements, size and possession limits, and other saltwater fishing regulations, you can contact the Marine Resources Division at the following address:

    Marine Resources Division

    PO Drawer 458

    Gulf Shores, AL 36547

    Phone: (251) 968-7576

Pond Management for Great Fishing

Ponds offer fantastic fishing opportunities in Alabama, with over 275,000 fish ponds scattered across the state. These ponds play a crucial role in relieving the fishing pressure on our public streams and lakes, making them an essential resource for anglers. The Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division is committed to supporting and maintaining this valuable resource.

To ensure your pond provides years of excellent fishing, proper management is key. This includes stocking your pond with appropriate fish species and implementing ongoing fish management practices. The Division offers technical assistance to pond owners at no cost, covering topics such as fertilization, liming, weed control, and fish harvest.

For more information and guidance on pond management practices, don't hesitate to reach out to your local District Fisheries Office. They can provide you with valuable insights and assistance in maintaining a thriving fishing pond.

Alabama & Georgia Reciprocal Agreement

Anglers in Alabama and Georgia benefit from a reciprocal agreement that covers fishing on the waters of the Chattahoochee River located between the two states, including all impoundments south of the Georgia Highway 109 bridge. This agreement facilitates fishing activities for residents and visitors in this region.

Please note that this agreement applies exclusively to the Chattahoochee River and its impoundments, excluding any streams or tributaries. For further assistance and information regarding this reciprocal agreement, feel free to contact a Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division Office. They can provide you with the details you need for an enjoyable fishing experience in this area.

Alabama, Mississippi & Tennessee Reciprocal Agreement

Anglers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee can take advantage of a reciprocal fishing agreement that covers the Tennessee River. This agreement simplifies fishing activities for residents and visitors in the region, allowing them to enjoy the abundant fishing opportunities along the Tennessee River.

Non-Native Aquatic Plants

Protecting the natural aquatic ecosystems in Alabama is a priority, and one way this is achieved is by regulating the introduction of non-native aquatic plants into public waters. The state strictly prohibits the intentional introduction, placement, or facilitation of non-native aquatic plants in its water bodies.

This regulation aims to prevent the disruption of native aquatic habitats and the potential harm caused by invasive plant species.

Fish Consumption Advisories

The Alabama Department of Public Health is dedicated to ensuring the safety of fish consumption from the state's waters. While the majority of waters in Alabama provide safe fish for human consumption, there are specific locations where concerns may exist.

To stay informed about fish consumption advisories and make safe choices when consuming fish, you can contact the Alabama Department of Public Health. They provide a current list of advisories that can be accessed by calling (800) 201-8208 or visiting their website at This resource will help you make informed decisions about the safety of fish from various water sources in the state.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.