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Regulated Fishing Activities

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General Fishing Regulations

Fishing or taking fish and other aquatic organisms for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Except as otherwise permitted by these rules: a person shall fish only with a rod, hook, and line, not to exceed three lines in number and not having more than two hooks to each line.

Artificial lures or plugs with multiple or gang hooks are considered one unit.

The use of dip nets shall be prohibited, except for capturing baitfish, gizzard shad, shiners and other cyprinids and in the landing of fish taken by angling, provided the net does not exceed 24 inches in diameter and nine cubic feet in overall volume.

  • The use of cast nets and seine nets is prohibited.
  • Snagging of aquatic organisms is prohibited.
  • A person may operate eel traps, if the number of traps does not exceed five.
  • An eel trap operator shall attach the operator's angling license number to each trap.

It Is Unlawful
It shall be unlawful to do any of the following:

  1. Introduce any species of fish, or other aquatic organism not indigenous to the waters of the District of Columbia;
  2. Possess a fish with a total length less than the minimum (see Species Descriptions);
  3. Possess a number of fish of a particular species greater than the possession limit listed in the DC Fish Field Guide;
  4. Possess aboard any boat, while fishing, or while in the possession of fishing equipment, any fish that has had the head or tail removed for which size or a weight limit is prescribed;
  5. Capture, harass, harm, or fail to return to the water immediately any organism which is listed by the US Department of Interior as endangered, or threatened, except for specific or designated scientific collection;
  6. Take, kill, or injure fish or other aquatic organism by using explosives, chemicals, firearms, or electricity, except for scientific collection;
  7. Take, catch, or possess any species of sturgeon; or
  8. Take fish except as specified in these rules.

Species Specific

Fish Species Regulation
Alewife Prohibited**
American Shad Prohibited**
Blueback Herring Prohibited**
Chain Pickerel Prohibited**
Hickory Shad Prohibited**
Longnose Gar Prohibited**
Northern Pike Prohibited**
Sturgeon Prohibited**
Striped Bass (Rockfish) Prohibited**
Channel Catfish Min. Length: 12 inches; Creel limit: 3 per day
Walleye Min. Length: 14 inches; Creel limit: 1 per day
Yellow Perch Min. Length: 8 inches; Creel limit: 3 per day
Largemouth Bass Min. Length: 12(*) inches; Creel limit: 5 per day
Smallmouth Bass Min. Length: 12(*) inches; Creel limit: 5 per day
Note: largemouth bass and smallmouth bass creel limits are in the aggregate.

**Unless season is posted           *15 inches, March 1 thru June 15
For more information, call (202) 535-2260

Fine schedule:
Superior Court of the District of Columbia Bonds and Collateral List

Fishing - By Other than Rod, Hook, and Line 19 DCMR 1502.2 $50
Fishing - Commercial Fishing 19 DCMR 1502.1 $300
Fishing - Digging for Bait in Rock Creek Park 19 DCMR 1503.3 $50
Fishing - Dip Net Exceeding Size 19 DCMR 1502.3 $50
Fishing - Exceeding Limit for Species 19 DCMR 1503.1(c) $100
Fishing - Failure to Attach License Number to Eel Trap 19 DCMR 1502.7 $50
Fishing - Failure to Check Eel Trap 19 DCMR 1502.7 $50
Fishing - Failure to Display a Fishing License 19 DCMR 1501.3 $50
Fishing - Fishing with Seine or Cast Net 19 DCMR 1502.4 $50
Fishing - Fishing Without a License 19 DCMR 1501.1 $50
Fishing - More than 2 Hooks Per Line 19 DCMR 1502.2 $50
Fishing - More than 3 Lines 19 DCMR 1502.2 $50
Fishing - Net Fishing in Rock Creek Park 19 DCMR 1503.2 $50
Fishing - Operating in Excess of 5 Eel Traps 19 DCMR 1502.6 $50
Fishing - Poss.Species with Size Limit, Head/Tail Removed 19 DCMR 1503.1(d) $100
Fishing - Possession of Endangered/Threatened Species 19 DCMR 1503.1(e) $300
Fishing - Possession of Undersized Fish 19 DCMR 1503.1(b) $100
Fishing - Take/Catch/Possess Striped Bass/Hybrid Striped Bass (Out of Season) 19 DCMR 1503.1(i) $100
Fishing - Take/Kill/Injure, Explosives/Chem./Firearms/Elec. w/o Permit 19 DCMR 1503.1(f) $300
Fishing - Taking, Catching or Possessing Sturgeon 19 DCMR 1503.1(g) $300
Fishing - With Snag Hook 19 DCMR 1502.5 $50

Additional Regulations for Rock Creek Park

  • No nets of any kind are permitted in Rock Creek Park for the purpose of catching fish.
  • No digging for bait in Rock Creek Park is permitted.

Moratorium on Shad and River Herring

In accordance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for shad and river herring, the possession of these species is prohibited. For more information please contact the Fisheries and Wildlife Division by phone at 202.535.2260 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. You may also email the Associate Director [email protected].

Currently, there are no bait restrictions, however, there is a coast-wide moratorium on the possession of American Shad (Alosa sapidissima), Hickory Shad (Alosa mediocris), blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), and alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus).


The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a predatory species of freshwater fish native to China. First documented in U.S. waters in 2002, the snakehead is considered highly invasive and poses significant threats to native fish populations. Unfortunately, the snakehead has become established in several DC, Maryland, and Virginia waterways, including the Potomac River and its tributaries. If you catch a northern snakehead DO NOT RETURN IT TO THE WATER. Snakeheads should be immediately killed by removing the head, removing all vital organs, or removing both gill arches. Please help stop the spread of this species and reduce its population numbers.

American Eel Minimum Size

In accordance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for American eel, the minimum size for this species is 9 inches. Possession of undersized American Eel is prohibited. For more information please contact the Fisheries and Wildlife Division by phone at 202.535.2260 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. You may also email the Associate Director at [email protected].

The Alabama Rig

DOEE considers the Alabama Rig and the umbrella rig to be a collection of individual lures. While using an Alabama Rig, an angler may employ the following.

  1. Any number of hookless baits, and,
  2. Two (2) individual baits each with one (1) hook. These two (2) hooked baits may be deployed in any configuration.


  1. Any number of hookless baits, and,
  2. One (1) bait with multiple or gang hooks. This one (1) hooked bait may deployed anywhere on the rig.

Atlantic Striped Bass Circle Hook Implementation Plan

DOEE is implementing new circle hook requirements in accordance with Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) guidelines.  This protective measure will decrease the amount of release mortality in our jurisdiction and improve the long-term health and sustainability of striped bass.

The New Circle Hook Requirement

  • The mandatory use of non-offset circle hooks will be required when fishing for striped bass with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational fisheries (Addendum VI to Amendment 6 of the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan).
  • In addition to anglers targeting striped bass, a non-offset circle hook will be required regardless of the targeted species when recreationally fishing with bait of any kind (e.g., fish, worms, shrimp, chicken livers, corn, dough balls) and using a hook size of number two (#2) or greater.
  • These mandatory circle hook requirements will take effect on January 1, 2021.


Bait – does not include artificial lures (bucktails, crankbaits, rigged soft plastics, etc.), but does include any other fresh, frozen, live, cut, scented moldable offering used to attract fish.

Circle Hook – is defined as a non-offset hook where the point is pointed perpendicularly back toward the shank. The word “non-offset” means the point and barb are in the same plane as the shank (e.g., when the hook is laying on a flat surface, the entire hook and barb also lay flat). See figures below:

Public Education and Outreach

The District has also created an informational handout to be given out to many different user groups. The handout will be given out at fishing license vendors, the District Aquatic Resource Education Center (where thousands of school children as well as adult groups receive educational programs and fishing clinics on the Districts aquatic resources), during angler creel surveys, and by law enforcement. Due to the global pandemic and the Districts mandatory telework policy several of these outreach opportunities have not taken place as of the writing of this plan. The informational handout is available for pick up at the Aquatic Resource Education Center.

Contact TTY: