Licensing and Regulation
Fishing licensing and regulation allows for more effective protection for species and their habitats. The ability to better protect, conserve, and enhance fisheries and wildlife resources is crucial for our native species. DOEE develops and enforces regulations in coordination with the District's Metropolitan Harbor Police and the Capital Park Police. This has contributed to the tremendous water quality improvements in the Potomac River and signs of improvement in the Anacostia River resulting in an increase in the numbers of game fish, including bass, crappies, and yellow perch.
Fishing regulations have helped to minimize the exploitation of the District's fisheries resources. The District introduced regulations that limit the size and number of a select fish species that anglers are allowed to keep. Surveys of migratory and resident fish, fish habitat, fish health, and anglers' practices are conducted. These activities provide valuable information to better understand and advance the efforts to increase the number and diversity of fish in its waters.
Update on 2023 striped bass season: The 2023 striped bass season begins May 16 and concludes December 31, 2023. Anglers may keep one (1) fish per day, no less than 18 inches and no more than 31 inches in length.
Recreational Angling Records Program
DOEE’s new and improved Recreational Angling Records Program provides anglers with the opportunity to apply for record status for 29 different fish species found in the District. Learn more >>
Fish Consumption Advisory
DOEE urges limited consumption of Anacostia and Potomac river fish. PCBs and other chemical contaminants have continued to be found in certain fish species caught in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and their tributaries, including Rock Creek, within the Distric's boundaries. Because of these findings, DOEE advises the general public to limit consumption of fish from all DC waters, as follows:
- Do not eat: Eel, carp or striped bass.
- May eat: Four servings per month of sunfish, or three servings per month of blue catfish or white perch, or two servings per month of largemouth bass, or one serving per month of brown bullhead catfish or channel catfish
- Choose to eat: Smaller fish of legal size.
- The practice of catch and release is encouraged.
To prepare, skin the fish and trim away fat. Cook fish and drain away fat because chemical contaminants tend to concentrate in the fat of the fish. These recommendations do not apply to fish sold in fish markets, grocery stores, and restaurants, since commercial fishing is prohibited in DC waters; thus fish from these venues will not be from the Potomac nor Anacostia Rivers.
- More information is available in the Fish Consumption Advisory and Fish Preparation Guidelines. The fish consumption advisory is also available in Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese in the attachments section below.
Reporting a Fish Kill
Anglers and the general public are asked to report a fish kill. If you see 50 or more dead fish floating on the surface of the water, please contact the DC Fisheries and Wildlife Division at (202) 535-2260 with the following information: exact location of the floating fish, date, time, and the extent of the fish kill.
The DC State Fish
American Shad, the DC state fish, migrates into DC waters every year to spawn. Thanks to improvements to water quality, habitat, and rehab efforts, the @ChesBayProgram has declared the Potomac River shad population restored.
Download your commemorative shad postcard!
You may also email Rese Cloyd, Associate Director, Fisheries and Wildlife Division, at [email protected].