North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission
State Coastal WatersMinimum Length (Internal and 0-3 Miles)Exclusive Economic Zone EEZMinimum Length (3-200 miles)Bag Limits
Alewife and blueback herringNoneNO POSSESSIONNoneNO POSSESSION
Amberjack, greater28" FL1/Day28" FL1/Day
Bass, striped(A)(A)Unlawful To Possess 
See striped bass details    
BluefishNone15/Day Only 5 greater than 24" TLNone15/Day
Cobia33" FL2/Day33" FL2/Day
Dolphin (B)None10/DayNone10/Day
Drum, red18-27" TL (C)1/DayUnlawful to Possess 
(Channel Bass,    
Puppy Drum)�    
Eel, American6" TL50/Day6" TL50/Day
Flounder15" TL6/Day15" TL6/Day
Gulf, Southern    
Groupers (H, I, J, K)(See below)(See below)(See below)(See below)
Groupers;20" TL3/Day (all groupers combined; includes 1 golden tilefish, and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined) (J)20" TL3/Day (all groupers combined; includes tilefish,
red, scamp, yellowfin   1 golden tilefish, and no more than 1 black or gag grouper, individual or combined) (J)
and yellowmouth    
Groupers24" TL1/Day (See above)24" TL1/Day
black and gag   (See above)
Grouper, WarsawNO POSSESSION NO POSSESSIONNO POSSESSION
Grouper, snowy1 / vessel / day 1 / vessel / day 
Hind, speckledNO POSSESSION NO POSSESSIONNO POSSESSION
(Kitty Mitchell)    
Hogfish12" TL5/Day  
(Hog snapper)    
Mackerel, king (I)24" FL3/Day24" FL3/Day
Species Identification    
Mackerel, Spanish (I)12" FL15/Day12" FL15/Day
Species Identification    
Marlin, blue(G)99" LJFL1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin99" LJFL 
Marlin, white (G)66" LJFL1/vessel/trip either Blue or White Marlin66" LJFL 
MulletNone200/DayNone 
(Striped and White) (species combined)  
Porgy, red14" TL3/Day14" TL3/Day
(Silver snapper, pinky)    
Reef Complex Species Includes sheepshead, spadefish, gray triggerfish, white grunt, knobbed porgy and more (see notes H and I) 20/Day 20/Day
Sailfish (G)63" LJFL1/Day63" LJFL 
Scup8" TL50/Day10.5" TL10/Day (D)
(North of Cape Hatteras)    
Seatrout, spotted (speckled)14" TL4/day  
Sea bass, black�12 �" TL25/Day12 �" TL�25/Day
(North of Cape Hatteras)    
Sea bass, blackSeason closed Season closed 
(South of Cape Hatteras) (D)Oct. 17, 2011-May 31, 2012 Oct. 17, 2011-May 31, 2012 
Shad, American (O)None10/Day No possession in ocean watersUnlawful To Possess 
Shad, hickory (O)None10/DayNone10/Day
Sharks(I)(E, L)1/Vessel/Day54"FL (E, L)1/Vessel/Day
(excluding spiny and smooth dogfish)    
Sharks, Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead (E)None(E)(E, L)1/Day
Snappers; 10/Day12" TL10/Day
dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen, schoolmaster and yellowtail (Species combined) (Species combined)
Snappers, mutton See Above16" TLSee Above
Snappers; silk and blackfin12" TLSee Above12" TLSee Above
Snapper, redNO POSSESSION NO POSSESSION 
Snapper, vermilion (J)12" TL5/Day12" TL5/Day
TarponNone1/DayNone1/Day
Tuna(I);bluefin(G), yellowfin and bigeyeYellowfin 27" CFLYellowfin 3 per dayYellowfin tuna 27" CFLYellowfin Tuna
Tuna(I);bluefin(G), yellowfin and bigeyeBigeye 27" CFL  3 per day
WahooNone2/DayNone2/Day
Weakfish12" TL1/Day12" TL 
(gray trout) see FF-54-2010)  

Prohibited Finfish Species

Coastal Waters
(Internal waters and Atlantic Ocean out to 3 miles
Federal Waters / EEZ
(Atlantic Ocean more than 3 miles)
Sharks; (whale, basking, white, sand tiger, bigeye sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapogos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, silky, sevengill, sixgill, and smalltail), sturgeon, Nassau grouper, Goliath grouper (jewfish), Warsaw grouper, speckled hind and red snapper.
Sharks; (whale, basking, white, sand tiger, bigeye sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapogos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, silky, sevengill, sixgill, and smalltail), red drum, striped bass, sturgeon, Nassau grouper, Goliath grouper (jewfish) and longbill spearfish.
Shellfish and Crustaceans
State Coastal and EEZ Waters Internal and 0-200 miles
Species
(note symbols)
Minimum Size Bag Limits
(Per Person)
Bay Scallops (N) None 1/2 bushel/day, not to exceed one bushel per vessel
Blue Crab (M)
Identification Help
5" Carapace Width (Minimum)
6 3/4" Carapace Width (Maximum) (F)
50 crabs/day not to exceed 100 crabs/vessel/day
Conchs and Whelks None 10/day not to exceed 20/vessel/day
Hard Clam 1" Thick 100 clams/day not to exceed 200 clams/vessel/day
Mussels None 100/day not to exceed 200/vessel/day
Oyster (N) 3" Shell Length 1 bushel/day not to exceed 2 bushels/vessel/day
Shrimp
(Closed shrimping area)
None 100 shrimp/person/day (Cast net only)
Shrimp
(Open shrimping area)
None 48 qts. heads on, 30 qts. heads off
(Per person or vessel except RCGL max. 2 limits/vessel)
Explanation of Symbols

(A) Albemarle Sound Management Area: contact DMF for seasons, areas or other limits; Atlantic Ocean year-round: 2 per person per day at 28” TL minimum; Other coastal areas (excluding Inland Waters-regulations set by Wildlife Resources Commission), 2 per person per day at 18” TL minimum and unlawful to possess between 22” – 27” TL in Joint waters. Moratorium in Cape Fear River system. Season October through April, statewide by proclamation (except Cape FearRiver). Includes hybrid bass.

(B) Limit of 10/person/day or 60/trip, whichever is less. On headboats, limit is 10/person/day.

(C) Unlawful to possess red drum greater than 27 inches total length. Unlawful to gig, spear, or gaff red drum.

(D) North of Cape Hatteras scup recreational season is July 6 through September 26. Black sea bass north of Hatteras seasons are July 1 through September 25 and November through December. Black sea bass south of Cape Hatteras is closed October 17, 2011 through May 31, 2012.

(E) See prohibited species list above; Legal sharks include: tiger, blacktip, spinner, lemon, bull, nurse, smooth and scalloped and great hammerhead, blacknose, finetooth, bonnethead, shortfin mako, blue, thresher, porbeagle, and oceanic whitetip. One (1) Atlantic sharpnose (no minimum size) and one bonnethead (no minimum size) per person per day may be landed in addition to allowable bag limits for other sharks.

(F) Mature female crabs are exempt from minimum size. Maximum size is effective September through April and applies to mature females only.

(G) In state or federal waters, federal permit required for Highly Migratory Species, excluding Atlantic bonito, little tunny (albacore), and blackfin tuna: (978) 281-9370. Prior to removal from vessel, all billfishes, swordfish and bluefin tuna must be reported at NC HMS reporting stations.

(H) Reef complex species: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, longspine porgy, sheepshead, gray triggerfish, queen triggerfish, yellow jack, crevalle jacks, bar jack, almaco jack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, white grunt, margates, spadefish and scup. 20 per person per day in combination.

(I) For seasons, bag limits, size limits or closures for tunas, billfishes, and sharks contact NMFS Highly Migratory Species Division 1-800-894-5528. For snapper, grouper, and mackerels contact the South Atlantic Council ((843) 571-4366 or www.safmc.net) and see Proclamation FF-71-2011.

(J) Vermilion snapper season is closed November 1-March 31. Shallow water grouper species (gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, grasby, yellowfin, grouper, yellowmouth grouper and tiger grouper) harvest is prohibited January 1–April 30. Possession of red snapper is currently prohibited.

(K) Groupers in the management unit include: red, yellowfin, yellowmouth, black, warsaw, snowy, yellowedge, and misty grouper; gag, scamp, speckled hind, red hind, rock hind, graysby, and coney. The three (3) grouper bag limit in the EEZ also includes blueline, golden, and sand tilefish. No possession of Nassau and Goliath grouper.

(L) It is unlawful to possess Large Coastal and Pelagic sharks less than 54 inches (Fork Length).

(M) One crab pot may be used from private property or private pier, without a license – Reference 15A NCAC 3J .0302.

(N) Contact DMF or visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations for seasons, areas, or other restrictions.

(O) It is unlawful to possess more than 10 American shad or hickory shad in the aggregate per person per day.

  Size and creel limits for spotted seatrout, flounder, red drum and gray trout taken in joint and coastal  waters are the same as the recreational limits for those species in adjacent inland waters.

Total length

(TL) is measured from tip of snout with mouth closed to top of compressed tail. Fork length (FL) is measured from tip of snout to middle of fork in tail. Lower jaw fork length (LJFL) is measured from lower jaw to middle of fork in tail. Curved fork length (CFL) is the measurement of the length taken in a line tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the upper jaw to the fork of the tail.



Anglers cannot catch both a federal and state bag limit for the same species on the same trip.

Ocean boundary is defined as water seaward of the COLREGS Demarcation Lines as indicated on National Ocean Service navigation charts

No one may possess aboard a vessel or while engaged in fishing any fish subject to limits without head and tail attached, except for alewife and blueback herring used for bait provided not more than two fish per boat/operation may be cut at any one time – Reference 15A NCAC 3M .0101

IMPORTANT Check with Division of Marine Fisheries for most current minimum lengths and catch limits. (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632.
For inland water limits contact Wildlife Resources Commission (919) 707-0220 or visit their website:
www.ncwildlife.org

This document is a public record under chapter 132 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Anyone who alters, defaces, mutilates or destroys it shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction subject to fines.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 14, 2011 AND IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND HAS NO LEGAL FORCE OR EFFECT. FISHERY RULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. THESE RESTRICTIONS APPLY TO FISH TAKEN FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSE AND INCLUDE HOOK AND LINE. Updated State regulations can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-fishing-size-and-bag-limits and updated Recreational Commercial Gear License information can be found at www.ncdmf.net/license/RCGL.htm

(Updated 11/14/11)