General Fishing Regulations 

Definitions, Methods and Associated Regulations

Aquatic Wildlife – All aquatic species, including aquatic snails, aquatic turtles, crayfish (crawfish, crawdads), fish (including minnows), frogs, mussels and salamanders.

Artificial Lure/Fly – Fishing tackle made by flytying or made entirely of rubber, wood, metal, glass, feathers, hair, synthetic fibers or plastic, with hook attached. Required for some trout-fishing areas.

Bream – Any species of the genus Lepomis including bluegill, redear, warmouth and other sunfish.

Catch-And-Release – The requirement that fish of a designated species must be released immediately into the water where caught.

Commercial Fish – Bowfin over six inches, buffalo, catfish, carp, drum, gar, paddlefish, suckers, white amur and shovelnose sturgeon. Catfish and paddlefish may be considered either commercial fish or game fish depending on the type of tackle used to take these fish.

Daily Limits – A daily limit is the number of fish of one species (or group of species) allowed to be taken from midnight to the next midnight. Fishermen are allowed to have only one daily limit of fish while fishing or returning from a one-day fishing trip.

Dip Netting – Dip nets may be used only when fish are caught first by hook and line or bow and arrow. Dip nets may be used to take baitfish for personal use while sport fishing. This use is limited to dip nets with mesh one inch or smaller.

Fish Cleaning – While fishing in waters designated as having a length or slot limit on sport fish, you may not possess a fish that has been filleted or had its head or tail removed while fishing from shore, boat or while being transported by boat. Check your destination to see whether length or slot limits apply.

Fishing Below Dams – It is illegal to fish within 100 yards below any dam and within the outlet channels of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Hydroelectric Plant at Barling and the Murray Hydroelectric Plant at North Little Rock. The exceptions to this include individuals fishing with only one hand-held rod or pole in waters not otherwise posted, taking rough fish with bow and arrow in waters not otherwise restricted, or taking shad with throw nets or cast nets for personal use. Additional Corps of Engineers restrictions may apply.

Gaffing – Taking or attempting to take fish with a hand-held hook. Gaffing is not allowed unless the fish is caught on a hook and line first (or with bow and arrow).

Game Fish – Alligator gar, black bass, white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, crappie, catfish, trout, bream, sunfish, goggle-eye, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, sauger, saugeye, paddlefish and pickerels. Catfish and paddlefish are considered commercial fish if taken with commercial tackle.

Length Limit – Minimum Length Limit : The shortest length of a fish of a designated species that can be kept. MAXIMUM LENGTH LIMIT: The maximum length of a fish of a designated species that can be kept. PROTECTED LENGTH LIMIT: A size limit that prohibits anglers from keeping fish within a designated size group. Unless otherwise specified, all fish are measured from the front of the lower jaw with the mouth closed to the tip of the tail with tail lobes pressed together when laid flat on a rule. All fish not meeting the length limit requirements for a particular water or species must be immediately released into the water where caught.

Rough Fish – Gar (except alligator gar), bowfin, common carp, Asian carp (grass carp, bighead carp, silver carp), sucker (including buffalo), bullhead and drum.

Sport Fish – see game fish.

Tackle – Rod, reel, pole, line, net, yo-yo, minnow seine or other devices used to fish. Commercial tackle such as gill nets, hoop nets, trammel nets, traps or snaglines may not be used to catch game fish.

To Fish – To take, catch, kill, collect, net, trap, spear or otherwise attempt to reduce fish to possession. Fish may not be taken with electrical devices, firearms, explosives, or toxic, stupefying or killing substances.

Using Live Bait – Baitfish include bluntnose minnows, bullhead catfish, bullhead minnows, chubs, crayfish, dace, fatheads, common carp under six inches (Common carp may not be used as bait in certain waters.), goldfish, shiners, stonerollers, logperch (also called sand pike or zebra minnows), gizzard and threadfin shad, gar (other than alligator gar), drum, bowfin under 6 inches, skipjack herring, silversides (brook and inland), buffalo (bigmouth, smallmouth, and black), river carpsucker, sculpin (banded and Ozark) and bream under 4 inches long. Bream longer than 4 inches may be used as bait only if first taken by hook and line and are subject to daily limit restrictions.

With the exception of shad, baitfish may not be taken in the area within 100 yards below a dam.

During daylight hours, baitfish may be taken using:

  • seines no larger than 50 feet long and four feet wide with quarter-inch mesh;
  • square traps no larger than six feet by six feet by three feet with half-inch mesh and with a throat size of two inches and round traps no longer than three feet in diameter and six feet in length and with a throat size of 2 inches with up to half-inch wire or mesh;
  • lift traps used for commercial fishing must be no larger than six feet by six feet by three feet with half-inch mesh. Sport fishing lift traps must have one inch (or smaller) square bar mesh;
  • cast nets with one-inch (or smaller) mesh;
  • shad trawl nets with one-inch (or smaller) mesh;
  • glass, plastic or wire mesh minnow traps no larger than one gallon with a one-and-a-half inch (or smaller) throat;
  • hand-operated dip nets with one inch (or smaller) square bar mesh for use while sport fishing. This method may be used day or night. All other species of fish must be immediately released.

You may not use live wild-caught baitfish on Norfork Lake unless said bait was caught on Norfork Lake (includes the watershed above the lake) or was purchased from an Arkansas licensed dealer on Norfork Lake.

Dispose of leftover bait properly. Dump minnows and other live bait in their original water source or in a trash receptacle.