General Fishing Regulations 


General Fishing Regulations

It is illegal to:

  • Refuse an officer's lawful request to see or inspect your wildlife, tackle, weapon or license.
  • Flee from an officer or interfere with an officer performing his or her duties.
  • Aid, accompany or abet someone else in a violation.
  • Import, transport, possess or take endangered species.
  • Transport illegally taken fish or wildlife across state lines.
  • Waste the edible portion of fish or wildlife, with the exception of rough fish.
  • Take wildlife for scientific studies without a permit from the AGFC.
  • Use game fish and their parts, dead or alive, for bait or lures, except for 4-inch and smaller bream or bream over 4 inches that were caught by hook and line. (Bream over 4 inches must be counted toward your daily limit.)
  • Buy or sell game fish unless they were raised by a licensed fish farmer or unless they are bream 4 inches or shorter. In either case, a fish dealer's license may be required.
  • Litter or fail to extinguish fires on public property.
  • Take or possess the Ouachita streambed salamander.
  • Take bait, other than insects, freshwater shrimp, worms and baitfish from public waters and sell or offer to sell it. A fish dealer's license may be required.
  • Release any fish, baitfish or crayfish into public waters without written permission from the AGFC, unless releasing said species into waters where they were originally taken.
  • Possess fish or wildlife taken by someone else without a signed statement from the taker, stating name, address, species, date taken and license number. (This requirement applies to commercial storage facilities).
  • For a guide to give away his or her fish if it will cause the recipient to exceed his or her daily limit.
  • Place or use rebar or any non-woody materials into the substrate of AGFC-owned lakes without prior approval.
  • Possess fish that are filleted or have head or tail removed while fishing from the shore, boat or transporting fish by boat on catch-and-release areas and length/slot limit waters.
  • Drive, harass or pursue trout with noise, objects, boats or by wading to concentrate them.
  • 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 one handheld 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.
  • Cull rainbow trout. Once a trout has been retained on a stringer, in a fish basket, live well or ice chest, it must be kept and counted in the anglers limit. However, in Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters (except in catch-and-release areas) one rainbow trout longer than 16 inches may be temporarily retained in a live well for measuring, weighing and photographing before being released.
  • Chum in trout waters designated as catch-and-release areas, artificial lures only areas and areas where natural or scented baits are prohibited. Chumming is defined as dislodging or depositing any substance not attached to a hook, which may attract fish. Dislodging material from the streambed to attract trout by shuffling one's feet (aka the "San Juan shuffle") is considered chumming. Dragging chains or anchors is not considered chumming.
  • Import trout and trout eggs without disease-free certification.


Regulations for AGFC Lakes, Accesses and Wildlife Management Areas

On AGFC lakes, accesses and wildlife management areas you may not legally:

  • Water ski or use personal watercraft.
  • Create a hazardous wake.
  • Obstruct an access area, parking area, launching ramp or access road.
  • Build a structure on AGFC-owned (or controlled) lakes unless it complies with the AGFC land-use policy.
  • Possess firearms except while legally hunting or carrying a concealed weapon permit. During open hunting seasons, firearms may be transported by boat if unloaded and cased.
  • Discharge or possess fireworks.
  • Import, transport or carry any firewood into a Commission-owned WMA or campsite.
  • Hunt, trap or possess hunting equipment when seasons are not open.
  • Possess a loaded firearm in a camping area or in fishing or boating access areas, unless you have a concealed weapon permit.
  • Remove anything - other than personal possessions - from Commission-owned land and water without permission.
  • Camp outside a designated area, camp more than 14 consecutive days (including time when the camp is set up but not occupied), or allow the camp to remain unoccupied for more than 48 hours.
  • Disobey official signs.
  • Damage AGFC property.
  • Cut trees.
  • Burn timber, brush or grass.
  • Burn materials containing nails, screws or other metal objects.
  • Leave a fire unattended.
  • Post signs.
  • Create a disturbance after 10 p.m.
  • Engage in commercial activities without prior AGFC approval.
  • Construct, place or occupy a permanent hunting stand, building, shelter or moored houseboat.
  • Use or possess chainswaws, handsaws, hatchets, axes, weed trimmers, string trimmers or other cutting devices. Chemical defoliants are prohibited.
  • Operate any motorized vehicle on any road, trail, levee or dam owned by the AGFC, where no maintained road exists, or in a direction of travel contrary to directional signs on a wildlife management area or AGFC-owned lake. No all-terrain vehicles are allowed unless the driver has a mobility-impaired program card.

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 (except silver redhorse), 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, yellow bass 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.