North Carolina fishing guide

Welcome to your key source for all fishing-related information in North Carolina. Discover not only the prime fishing spots but also learn about the diverse species inhabiting these waters. Stay informed about the latest fishing regulations and licensing requirements for fishing in North Carolina

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37 waterbodies
391 cities
102 fishes

What kind of fish can you catch in North Carolina

Below are 102 types of fish that can be caught in North Carolina. The data have been collected based on fishing reports from North Carolina and have undergone serious moderation. Explore the map of North Carolina to find out where a particular type of fish is biting.

Licenses for fishing in North Carolina

For more detailed information on license types and regulations, you can visit North Carolina Fishing eRegulations and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

License Type Resident Fee Nonresident Fee
Short-Term Licenses    
Inland Fishing 10-Day $9 $23
Coastal Recreational Fishing 10-Day $6 $11
Annual Licenses    
State Inland Fishing $25 $45
Coastal Recreational Fishing $16 $32
Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing $41 -
Subsistence Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License Waiver FREE -
Special Device (inland fishing) $80 $530
Lifetime Licenses    
Comprehensive Inland Fishing $265 -
Senior (Eligibility Requirements Apply) $16 -
Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing $477 -
Coastal Recreational Fishing Adult (ages 12 & older) $265 $530
Youth (ages 1-11) $159 $159
Infant (under age 1) $106 $106
Senior (Eligibility Requirements Apply) $16 -
Disabled Veteran Inland Fishing $11 -
Disabled Veteran Coastal Recreational Fishing $11 -
Totally Disabled Inland Fishing $11 -
Totally Disabled Coastal Recreational Fishing $11 -
Legally Blind Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing FREE -
Adult Care Home Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing FREE -


  • Short-Term Licenses are valid for the period specified on the license.
  • Annual Licenses are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
  • Lifetime Licenses are valid for the lifetime of the license holder.
  • Special rates and exemptions are available for certain groups such as disabled veterans, senior citizens, and others based on eligibility requirements.

Fishing Regulations in North Carolina

Prohibited Gear and Fishing Methods
  • Use of explosives, poisons, or electrical devices for fishing is illegal.
  • Fishing with nets, traps, or seines is limited to licensed individuals and specific areas.
  • Use of live fish as bait is restricted in certain waters to protect native species.
  • Snagging fish is not allowed except in designated areas during specific seasons.
  • Spearing and bowfishing are permitted for certain species in specified waters.
Catch Limits
  • Trout: Daily limit varies by area, generally 7 fish with size restrictions.
  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass: Daily limit of 5, with a minimum length of 12 inches.
  • Crappie: Daily limit of 20, no size limit.
  • Catfish: No daily limits for most species, but restrictions apply to some areas.
  • Striped Bass: Limits vary by area, especially in coastal and inland waters.
  • Panfish (Bluegill, Sunfish): No daily limit, no size limit.
  • Walleye: Daily limit varies by water body, with size limits in some areas.
  • Flounder: Regulations vary, especially in coastal waters.
  • Muskellunge: Daily limit of 1, minimum length of 30 inches.
  • Shad and Herring: Specific regulations apply, with some areas having closed seasons.
Restrictions on Access to Water Bodies
  • Access to some waters may be restricted for environmental conservation or public safety reasons.
  • Fishing on private property requires explicit permission from the landowner.
  • Special regulations for fishing in state parks and wildlife refuges.
  • No fishing zones enforced around certain infrastructures like dams and fish hatcheries.
  • Seasonal access restrictions in certain areas for fish spawning and habitat management.
Zones of Special Regulation
  • Catch-and-release areas for certain species, especially trout and bass.
  • Areas with gear restrictions, such as artificial lures only or fly fishing zones.
  • Slot limits for bass and other species in certain lakes and rivers.
  • Special regulations in waters with high fishing pressure or ecological sensitivity.
  • Trophy fisheries with enhanced size and bag limits in selected areas.
Protection of Rare Species
  • Fishing for endangered or threatened species is strictly prohibited.
  • Special regulations in habitats of rare or sensitive aquatic species.
  • Research fishing for rare species requires special permits.
  • Reporting accidental catches of rare species is important for conservation efforts.
  • Areas with significant ecological value may have additional fishing restrictions.
Seasonal Restrictions
  • Closed seasons for specific species during spawning or migration periods.
  • Ice fishing regulations, including shelter and gear restrictions, during winter months.
  • Seasonal closures in sensitive ecological areas for species protection and habitat restoration.
  • Temporary closures during environmental events or for population studies.
  • Special regulations for early and late fishing seasons in certain areas.

Most popular cities for fishing in North Carolina

The largest and most popular fishing cities in North Carolina. Cities in North Carolina include information on fishing, as well as a map with fishing spots. Explore the cities to know what fish are caught and in which bodies of water.

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Nearby waterbodies (37)
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