Fishing Guide & Regulations
- Buy a License or Stamp
- Where to Fish
- License Fees
- License Exemptions
- Statewide Size and Bag Limits
- Boating Rules and Regulations
Indiana-Michigan Border Lakes
Indiana or Michigan residents fishing in any of the waters listed below and who possess a valid fishing license for either state, are permitted to fish in these lakes while following the laws and regulations of the state having jurisdiction over that portion of the lake.
- Clear Lake – Indiana, St. Joseph Co./South Clear Lake – Michigan, Berrien Co.
- Indiana Lake – Indiana, Elkhart Co./Michigan, Cass Co.
- Fish Lake – Indiana, La Grange Co./Michigan, St. Joseph Co. Lake
- Lake George – Indiana, Steuben Co./Michigan, Branch Co.
- Long Lake -Indiana, Steuben Co./Michigan, Hillsdale Co.
Where do your fishing license dollars go?
Funds from the sale of fishing licenses are used to conserve and manage fisheries resources in Indiana. Learn more about funding for fish and wildlife conservation and management in Indiana.
To reveal a section, click on a link below.
Online: Go to IndianaOutdoor.IN.gov
In Person: Visit a retailer or DNR site listed at IndianaOutdoor.IN.gov, or visit the DNR Customer Service Center, Indiana Government Center South, 402 W. Washington St., W160, Indianapolis. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
By Mail: Specify the license you need and send the following information with your order:
- Name, date of birth, Indiana Driver’s License number or Social Security number
- Complete address, city, state, ZIP and phone number
- Height, weight, color of hair and eyes
Include a check or money order (payable to DNR) or Visa or MasterCard (include number, expiration date). Send the order information and payment to:
DNR Customer Service Center
402 W. Washington St., W160
Indianapolis, IN, 46204
Indiana disabled American veterans can get a DAV fishing license application form from the County Service Officer or download the application form at fishing.IN.gov. Mail the form with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the DNR Customer Service Center.
Catch most fish species year-round. Note: There are season restrictions for trout on inland streams, Lake Michigan and its tributaries, and for paddlefish on the Ohio River.
Fish with a trot line – a line that extends into the water from a fixed point and has smaller drop lines attached to it; limited to one trot line at a time with no more than 50 single- or multi-barbed hooks, and each drop line having only one hook. A legible tag with the name and address of the user must be affixed to each trot line.
Take carp, gar, bowfin, buffalo and shad with a spear, gig, spear gun, bow and arrow or underwater spear under certain conditions and on limited waters. Crossbows may not be used. See fishing.IN.gov for details.
Float or jug fish by using a buoyed container that suspends a single line and a single- or multi-barbed hook. As many as five floats may be used. Each float must be marked with the user’s name and address, and the user must be in constant visual contact with all floats. NOTE: Float fishing is not allowed on lakes and reservoirs for public safety reasons.
Use landing nets, gaff hooks or grab hooks to assist in landing legally caught fish. Note: These devices may not be used as a method of catching fish.
Keep fish you catch for an aquarium if the fish meets legal size and bag limit requirements.
Take smelt from Lake Michigan and Oliver Lake (LaGrange County) from March 1 through May 30. Smelt may be taken only with a single seine or net. The seine or net may not exceed 12 feet in length and 6 feet in depth nor have a stretch mesh larger than 1 ½ inches. A dip net may not exceed 12 feet in diameter.
Fish with up to three poles or hand lines at one time. Each line is limited to no more than two single or multi-barbed hooks, two artificial baits or two live bait harnesses.
Collect minnows and crayfish if you possess a valid fishing license. Some restrictions apply for possession limits and allowable equipment. See fishing.IN.gov for details.
You may use some species of wild fish as live bait, as long as the fish are caught legally and meet any size, catch, or possession limits established for that species. Goldfish may be used as live bait. Carp cannot be used as live bait at any location. Live gizzard shad and threadfin shad may be collected, possessed and used as live bait on the following waters only, but may not be transported away from the location where collected:
- Brookville Reservoir
- Cecil M. Harden Reservoir
- Monroe Reservoir
- Patoka Reservoir
- Lake Freeman
- Lake Shafer
- Hardy Lake
- Ohio River mainstem, excluding all embayments
Take fish from public waters with a weir, electric current, dynamite, firearm, crossbow, hands alone, or any substance that may weaken or poison a fish.
Use a casting net to catch sport fish.
Take paddlefish from any waters of Indiana, including Indiana waters of the Ohio River, on a sport fishing license.
Take or possess lake sturgeon or any of these other state-endangered fish: bantam sunfish, cavefish, channel darter, gilt darter, greater redhorse, northern brook lamprey, pallid shiner, redside dace, or variegate darter.
Exceed at any time the bag limit of fish while engaged in a day’s fishing.
Release live fish (native or non-native) into public waters without a stocking permit issued by the DNR.
Snag fish from public waters, including the Ohio River. Snagging is the practice of dragging or jerking a hook (or hooks), baited or unbaited, through the water with the intention of hooking a fish on contact.
Collect or take live or dead mussel shells from public waters.
Possess live aquatic invasive mussels such as Asiatic clam, quagga mussel and zebra mussel.
Intentionally waste or destroy fish unless the species is required by law to be killed. This includes discarding fish entrails into any state waters.
Buy, sell or barter any fish, frogs, turtles or other reptiles and amphibians taken under a fishing or hunting license.
All motorboats used in public waters must be registered. For a copy of Indiana boating laws, write to DNR Division of Law Enforcement, 402 W. Washington St., Room W255D, Indianapolis, IN, 46204.
Only electric motors may be used on state-owned, leased or licensed lakes smaller than 300 acres. No more than two 12-volt batteries can be used to power trolling motors in these waters.
Life preservers (Wear It! Indiana)
“WEAR IT INDIANA” is a public outreach campaign designed to encourage the use of personal flotation devices (life jackets) while boaters and swimmers are enjoying Indiana waterways.
A U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device (Type 1, 2, 3 or 5) is required for each person on any boat. Boats 16 feet and longer, except for canoes or kayaks, must also have one USCG-approved throwable PFD on board.
Lake Michigan and the Ohio River and boundary waters of the Wabash River have special PFD regulations. Call the USCG at (219) 879-8371 for Lake Michigan, (502) 779-5400 for southern Indiana, or see uscgboating.org for a copy of federal boating regulations.
Eating recreationally caught fish from Indiana waters can be a healthy and tasty activity when you have the proper information.
The contaminants accumulate in human tissue like they do in fish and can build to levels that could pose a health threat. The consumption advisory is based on a model that people are consuming 8 oz. of fish on 225 days each year over 70 years. Most anglers do not eat wild-caught fish nearly this frequently.
The primary concern is with the at-risk population. This population comprises women of childbearing years, nursing mothers and children under age 15. The reason for extra concern is evidence of developmental problems in babies and young children from contaminants at levels lower than what can be safely eaten by adults.
Eating fish from lakes and reservoirs is generally less of a concern. Contaminant levels are generally very low in lakes and reservoirs.
Eating fish from rivers and streams is generally a much higher concern. All 13 water bodies carrying do-not-eat consumption advisories for all species are streams.
Consult the Indiana Fish Consumption Advisory for much more detailed information. The advisory can be found at IN.gov/isdh/23650.htm.
For more information on the fish consumption advisory or answers to questions concerning the advisory, contact: Indiana State Department of Health, Environmental Epidemiology Section, 2525 Shadeland Ave., Suite E, Indianapolis, IN 46219, (317) 351-7190, ext. 262.