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Recreational Saltwater Finfish

Fish caught in deeper water and some sensitive species can experience barotrauma when they're caught. Learn the signs of barotrauma and how you can help these fish survive.

Licenses and Permits

If you’re age 16 or older, you must have the following licenses to fish recreationally in saltwater in Louisiana:

You also need permits for certain types of activities.

  • To possess tunas, billfish, swordfish, amberjacks, snappers, groupers, hinds, cobia, wahoo and dolphinfish in Louisiana waters, recreational fishermen (except those under age 16 and those on a paid for-hire charter trip) must obtain a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit, in addition to required licenses. Charter captains must obtain a Charter Recreational Offshore Landing Permit to possess these species.
  • All owners/operator of vessels recreationally fishing for and/or retaining any Atlantic highly migratory species (tunas, billfishes, swordfish, and sharks) with rod and reel; tunas, sharks, and swordfish with a handline; and free-swimming tunas (except bluefin) with a speargun must have an Atlantic HMS Angling Permit.

 

Seasons and Size and Bag/Possession Limits

Unless otherwise established, there are no size limits for species not listed. Unless otherwise noted, possession limits for saltwater fish are the same as the daily bag limit.

Seasons and regulations may differ in federal waters off Louisiana’s coast. Visit the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s site for federal seasons and regulations. Note that federally permitted for-hire reef fish vessels must comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing for reef fish in state waters.

Common Coastal Species

Cobia (ling or lemonfish)

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
33 inches minimum fork length Two per person per day Open year-round in state waters

Drum

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Season Notes
Black drum
  • 16 inches minimum total length
  • 27 inches maximum total length
  • Five per person per day
  • No more than one over 27-inch maximum total length
Open year-round in state waters  
Red drum
  • 16 inches minimum total length
  • 27 inches maximum total length
  • Five per person per day
  • No more than one over 27-inch maximum total length
Open year-round in state waters
  • Recreational saltwater anglers may possess a two-day’s bag limit of red drum on land; however, no person may possess more than the daily bag limit of red drum in any one day or while fishing or while on the water, unless that recreational saltwater angler is aboard a trawler engaged in commercial fishing for a consecutive period longer than 25 hours.
  • Take or possession of red drum in federal waters is prohibited..

Southern flounder

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
None 10 per person per day Open year-round in state waters

Mackerel

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
King mackerel 24 inches minimum fork length Three per person per day Open year-round in state waters
Spanish mackerel 12 inches minimum fork length  15 per person per day  Open year-round in state waters

Striped mullet

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
None 100 pounds per person per day Open year-round in state waters

Spotted seatrout (speckled trout)

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season Notes
12 inches minumum total length 25 per person per day except in specified areas of Cameron and Calcasieu parishes where the limit is 15 per person per day with no more than two over 25 inches total length. These areas are: South of Interstate 10 from its junction at the Texas-Louisiana boundary eastward to its junction with LA Highway 171, south to Highway 14, south to Holmwood, and then south on Highway 27 through Gibbstown south to LA Highway 82 at Creole and south on Highway 82 to Oak Grove, then due south to the western shore of the Mermentau River, following this shoreline south to the junction with the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south to the limit of the state territorial sea. Open year-round in state waters

Refer to our spotted seatrout page for more information.

Recreational saltwater anglers may possess a two-day’s bag limit on land; however, no person may possess more than the daily bag limit in any one day or while fishing or while on the water, unless that recreational saltwater angler is aboard a trawler engaged in commercial fishing for a consecutive period longer than 25 hours.

Reef Fish

  • The captain and crew of a vessel under charter may not harvest red snapper, greater amberjack, or grouper of any species; their creel limit/bag limit is zero.
  • Federally permitted for-hire reef fish vessels must comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing for reef fish in state waters..

Grouper

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
Gag  24 inches minimum total length Two gag per person per day within the four grouper aggregate; four grouper per person per day in aggregate. The four grouper aggregate is: speckled hind; black, red, snowy, yellowedge, yellowfin, yellowmouth, and warsaw grouper; gag; and scamp. Additional restrictions for the four grouper aggregate:
  • No more than one speckled hind and one warsaw grouper per vessel per day.
  • No more than two red grouper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open June 1 through December 31 in state waters; closed January 1 through June 30 in state waters. Note that there are closed seasons for other grouper species within the four grouper aggregate—black, red, yellowfin, and yellowmouth grouper and scamp are closed February 1 through March 31 in state waters seaward of the 20 fathom (120 feet) boundary.
Black grouper 24 inches minimum total length

Four grouper per person per day in aggregate; the four grouper aggregate is: speckled hind; black, red, snowy, yellowedge, yellowfin, yellowmouth, and warsaw grouper; gag; and scamp. Additional restrictions for the four grouper aggregate:

  • No more than one speckled hind and one warsaw grouper per vessel per day.
  • No more than two red grouper and two gag per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary. Note that there are closed seasons for other grouper species within the four grouper aggregate—gag is closed January 1 through June 30 in state waters; red, yellowfin, and yellowmouth grouper and scamp are closed February 1 through March 31 in state waters seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary.
Red and yellowfin grouper 20 inches minimum total length

Two red grouper per person per day within the four grouper aggregate; four grouper per person per day in aggregate. The four grouper aggregate is: speckled hind; black, red, snowy, yellowedge, yellowfin, yellowmouth, and warsaw grouper; gag; and scamp. Additional restrictions for the four grouper aggregate:

  • No more than one speckled hind and one warsaw grouper per vessel per day.
  • No more than two gag per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary. Note that there are closed seasons for other grouper species within the four grouper aggregate—gag is closed January 1 through June 30 in state waters; black and yellowmouth grouper and scamp are closed February 1 through March 31 in state waters seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary.
Scamp 16 inches minimum total length

Four grouper per person per day in aggregate; the four grouper aggregate is: speckled hind; black, red, snowy, yellowedge, yellowfin, yellowmouth, and warsaw grouper; gag; and scamp. Additional restrictions for the four grouper aggregate:

  • No more than one speckled hind and one warsaw grouper per vessel.
  • No more than two red grouper and two gag per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary. Note that there are closed seasons for other grouper species within the four grouper aggregate—gag is closed January 1 through June 30 in state waters; black, red, yellowfin, and yellowmouth grouper are closed February 1 through March 31 in state waters seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary.
Goliath and Nassau grouper Take of these species is prohibited.

Snapper

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
Red snapper 16 inches minimum total length Two per person per day

See our recreational red snapper page for more information.

Closed.

See our recreational red snapper page for more information.

Mutton snapper 18 inches minimum total length
  • Five per person per day within the 10 snapper aggregate; the 10 snapper aggregate is all snappers (gray, mutton, yellowtail, cubera, queen, blackfin, silk, and wenchman) except red, vermilion, and lane snapper.
  • A recreational saltwater angler may possess a two-day limit on a charter vessel or headboat on a multi-day trip if the vessel/headboat has two licensed operators as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and the angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
Open year-round in state waters
Queen, blackfin, silk, and wenchman snapper None
  • 10 per person per day within the 10 snapper aggregate; the 10 snapper aggregate is all snappers (gray, mutton, yellowtail, cubera, queen, blackfin, silk, and wenchman) except red, vermilion, and lane snapper. Additional restrictions for the 10 snapper aggregate:
    • No more than five mutton snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
  • A recreational saltwater angler may possess a two-day limit on a charter vessel or headboat on a multi-day trip if the vessel/headboat has two licensed operators as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and the angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
Open year-round in state waters
Cubera, gray (mangrove), and yellowtail snapper 12 inches minimum total length
  • 10 per person per day within the 10 snapper aggregate; the 10 snapper aggregate is all snappers (gray, mutton, yellowtail, cubera, queen, blackfin, silk, and wenchman) except red, vermilion, and lane snapper. Additional restrictions for the 10 snapper aggregate:
    • No more than five mutton snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
  • A recreational saltwater angler may possess a two-day limit on a charter vessel or headboat on a multi-day trip if the vessel/headboat has two licensed operators as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and the angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
Open year-round in state waters
Vermilion snapper 10 inches minimum total length
  • 10 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermillion and lane snapper, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, and tilefish. Additional restrictions for the 20 reef fish aggregate:
    • No more than one gray triggerfish per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
  • A recreational saltwater angler may possess a two-day limit on a charter vessel or headboat on a multi-day trip if the vessel/headboat has two licensed operators as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and the angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
Open year-round in state waters. Note that there are closed seasons for other reef fish species within the 20 reef fish aggregate—gray triggerfish is closed January 1 through the end of February and June 1 through July 31.
Lane snapper 8 inches minimum total length
  • 20 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermillion and lane snapper, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, and tilefish. Additional restrictions for the 20 reef fish aggregate:
    • No more than one gray triggerfish and 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
  • A recreational saltwater angler may possess a two-day limit on a charter vessel or headboat on a multi-day trip if the vessel/headboat has two licensed operators as required by the U.S. Coast Guard for trips more than 12 hours, and the angler has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel verifying the length of the trip.
Open year-round in state waters. Note that there are closed seasons for other reef fish species within the 20 reef fish aggregate—gray triggerfish is closed January 1 through the end of February and June 1 through July 31.

Almaco jack

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
None

20 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermillion and lane snapper, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, and tilefish. Additional restrictions for the 20 reef fish aggregate:

  • No more than one gray triggerfish and 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters. Note that there are closed seasons for other reef fish species within the 20 reef fish aggregate—gray triggerfish is closed January 1 through the end of February and June 1 through July 31.

Gray triggerfish

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
15 inches minimum fork length

One per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermillion and lane snapper, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, and tilefish. Additional restrictions for the 20 reef fish aggregate:

  • No more than 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open September 1, 2020; LDWF will monitor federal actions regarding the closure of the gray triggerfish season and will close concurrently with federal waters (currently scheduled for October 26)

Tilefish (goldface, blackline, anchor and blueline)

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
None

20 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermillion and lane snapper, almaco jack, gray triggerfish, and tilefish. Additional restrictions for the 20 reef fish aggregate:

  • No more than one gray triggerfish and 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters. Note that there are closed seasons for other reef fish species within the 20 reef fish aggregate—gray triggerfish is closed January 1 through the end of February and June 1 through July 31.

Amberjack

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
Greater amberjack 34 inches minimum fork length One per person per day Closed January 1 through April 30; open May 1 through 31; closed June 1 through July 31; open August 1 through October 31, or until the annual quota is met or projected to be met; closed November 1 through December 31
Lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish 14 to 22-inch fork length slot limit Five fish per person per day combined total between lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish Open year-round in state waters

Hogfish

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
14 inches minimum fork length Five per person per day Open year-round in state waters

Black seabass

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
None None Open year-round in state waters

Tripletail

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
18 inches minimum total length Five per person per day Open year-round in state waters

Highly Migratory Species

Marlin

You must report all recreational landings of marlin to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours of landing at the dock. Report online, via the mobile app, or by calling 800.894.5528

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season
Blue marlin 99 inches minimum lower jaw fork length None Open year-round in state waters
White marlin 66 inches minimum lower jaw fork length None Open year-round in state waters

Swordfish

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season Notes
29 inches minimum carcass length or 33 pounds minimum dressed weight
  • No more than five per vessel per trip
  • Swordfish taken under a recreational bag limit shall not be sold, purchased, exchanged, bartered, or attempted to be sold, purchased, exchanged or bartered.
  • No person aboard any vessel shall transfer or cause the transfer of swordfish between vessels in state or federal waters.
Open year-round in state waters You must report all recreational landings of swordfish to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours of landing at the dock. Report online, via the mobile app, or by calling 800.894.5528.

Tuna

Anglers fishing for tunas in Louisiana state or federal are subject to both state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Federal regulations regarding the recreational harvest of tunas change often, especially for bluefin tuna; federal regulations may supersede Louisiana regulations. Prior to fishing for or harvesting tuna, be aware of the most current federal regulations, including size and bag limits and seasons. For updates on tuna quota monitoring and tuna retention limit adjustments, call 888-872-8862

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season Notes
Bluefin tuna 73 inches minimum curved fork length One trophy per vessel per year if caught incidentally while targeting other species while the trophy season is open
  • Opens January 1 each year and closes when the quota is met
  • Currently closed April 16, 2020, through December 31, 2020
  • Check with NOAA Fisheries for more information.
  • Directed or targeted recreational fishing of bluefin tuna is prohibited in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • You must report all bluefin tuna landings and dead discards to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours of landing. Report online, via the mobile app, or by calling 888.872.8862.
Bigeye tuna 27 inches minimum curved fork length None Open year-round in state waters  
Yellowfin tuna 27 inches minimum curved fork length Three per person per day Open year-round in state waters  

Shark

• All Louisiana state waters are closed to the recreational and commercial harvest and possession of all sharks between April 1 and June 30 of each year. • Finning (removing only the fins and returning the remainder of the shark to the sea) is prohibited in state and federal waters. • Information on identifying sharks and best practices for handling sharks

Species Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season Notes
Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks None One per person per day in aggregate; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip Open year-round in state waters except April 1 through June 30  
Small coastal, large coastal, and pelagic sharks (except silky, sandbar, and shortfin mako sharks) 54 inches minimum fork length One per vessel per trip in aggregate; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip; no silky or sandbar sharks; no prohibited species Open year-round in state waters except April 1 through June 30
  • Small coastal sharks: Atlantic sharpnose, bonnethead, blacknose, and finetooth sharks
  • Large coastal sharks: blacktip, nurse, smooth hammerhead, bull, sandbar*, spinner, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, tiger, lemon, and silky* sharks
  • Pelagic sharks: blue, porbeagle, thresher, oceanic whitetip, and shortfin mako sharks
  • *Recreational harvest of sandbar and silky sharks (ridgeback sharks) is prohibited
Shortfin mako
  • Males: 71 inches minimum fork length
  • Females: 83 inches minimum fork length
One shark per vessel per trip in aggregate from the small coastal, large coastal, or pelagic shark groups (see above), including shortfin mako; no one may possess any shark in excess of the bag limit at any time, regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip; no silky or sandbar sharks; no prohibited species Open year-round in state waters except April 1 through June 30

How to identify female vs. male sharks

Prohibited sharks

Atlantic angel, sand tiger, dusky, bigeye sand tiger, sixgill, largetooth sawfish, bigeye thresher, smalltooth sawfish, narrowtooth, Caribbean reef, white*, Caribbean sharpnose, basking, sevengill, Galapagos, bigeye sixgill, smalltail, longfin mako, bignose, whale, and night sharks

*A person may fish for but not retain white shark with rod and reel only under a catch and release program, provided the person releases and returns such fish to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury.

Recreational harvest of sandbar and silky sharks (ridgeback sharks) is prohibited.

Sailfish

Size Limit Bag and Possession Limit Season Notes
63 inches minimum lower jaw fork length None Open year-round in state waters You must report all recreational landings of sailfish to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours of landing. Report online, via the mobile app, or by calling 800.894.5528.

Gear Restrictions and Requirements

See the latest recreational regulations.

Prohibited Species

You may not possess any of the following threatened, endangered, or prohibited species. If you incidentally catch one of these species, release it immediately, unharmed.

All whales Dolphin (mammal) Goliath grouper Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi)
Largetooth sawfish Nassau grouper Sea turtles Smalltooth sawfish
West Indian manatee Atlantic angel shark Basking shark Bigeye sand tiger shark
Bigeye sixgill shark Bigeye thresher shark Bignose shark Caribbean reef shark
Caribbean sharpnose shark Dusky shark Galapagos shark Longfin mako shark
Narrowtooth shark Night shark Sand tiger shark Sevengill shark
Sixgill shark Smalltail shark  Whale shark White shark