Fishing Laws in North Carolina

Because North Carolina has a plethora of fishing opportunities, it is no surprise that so many anglers are eager to take advantage of these opportunities. However, just as it is with any other state through which you might travel or in which you might intend to spend some time, it is critical that you are familiar with the rules and regulations of this one before you run the risk of breaking the law.

When it comes to the fishing locations in North Carolina that you might want to consider, there is a diverse selection of options to choose from. Cape Hatteras is one of these locations, and the nice thing about it is that it allows you to fish all year long there. In addition to Randleman Regional Reservoir, other popular destinations include the Albemarle Headwaters Rivers, Sutton Lake, Fontana Lake, and a slew of other locations.

The species that you will be able to hunt will vary depending on where you choose to hunt in the end. For example, White Perch can be found in abundance in Lake Waccamaw, while largemouth bass can be found in abundance in the Randleman Regional Reservoir. In order to make our point, while you will need a general fishing license to fish in any American state, you may need to consider obtaining a specific species-specific fishing license if you want to catch a specific species of fish.


You can find out what kind of license you need if you are a resident, a non-resident, under a certain age, disabled, or a veteran by visiting the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s website, which is very useful. Prices can vary depending on each of these factors, so be sure to take them all into consideration. More information can be found here.

While in the state of Washington, any angler over the age of 15 is required to have a permit, in the state of North Carolina, you must be at least 16 years old in order to possess a valid fishing license. Permits, whether purchased from the official website we mentioned above or from local tackle shops, are typically valid for a year, unless you purchase a different permit that specifically states that it can be used for a shorter period of time.

Another feature that distinguishes North Carolina’s regulations from those in other states is that they are designed to protect specific fish populations. We recommend that you do some research to learn more about fish conservation and the protection of America’s aquatic natural resources before going out to fish and taking the chance of doing something that is against the law.

In case you weren’t aware, the vast majority of fishing licenses are designed so that the money generated by their sale can be used to support environmental conservation efforts. Management of the habitat of species that may be at risk, education of anglers in an active manner, fish stocking, fish surveys and research are some of the efforts made by the local authorities to conserve and protect the environment.

We recommend that you bring a measuring device with you when fishing, whether you are in North Carolina or not, in order to avoid targeting a fish that could get you into trouble. If you want to make sure that you are following the rules, it is critical that you identify the species.

According to North Carolina fishing regulations, it is strictly prohibited to throw trash, fishing line, or any other tackle into the water rather than removing it from the water and bringing it with you. Every fish that you catch must be properly stored, and whether you intend to use it as bait or not, you are not permitted to release it back into the water after catching it. Catch and release policy information is readily available on the internet, and we encourage you to take the time to review it before going out on the water to avoid being disappointed.