Regulations

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Check Special Area Regulations

Special fishing restrictions exist for particular areas. Always check before you fish.

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Conservation Area Regulations

Search Places to Go for conservation area-specific information before fishing.

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Possession and Length Limits

Daily and Possession Limits

You may possess no more than the daily limit of any given species while you are on waters, or on the banks of waters, where daily limits for those species apply. Any species taken into actual possession, unless released unharmed immediately after being caught, shall continue to be included in the daily limit of the taker for the day. 

Where only catch-and-release fishing is allowed, fish must be returned unharmed immediately to the water after being caught.

The possession limit is twice the statewide daily limit. Fish you take and possess must be kept separate or distinctly identifiable from fish taken by another person. If you are away from your catch, the device holding the fish must be plainly labeled with your full name and address.

Length Limit Definitions

Many fish species and fishing areas have length limits.

A minimum length limit means that fish below a designated length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

A slot length limit or protected length range means that fish within a designated length range must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

A maximum length limit means that fish above a designated length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

Regardless of where taken, fish that are not of a legal length cannot be possessed on the waters or banks where length limits apply. The head and tail must remain attached to the fish while you are fishing on waters where length limits apply.

Learn how to measure fish correctly.

Possessing, transporting, and storing fish

The fish you catch in Missouri, or elsewhere, may be possessed and transported as your personal baggage, if you have the required permit. Fish may be stored, preserved or refrigerated only at your home, camp, place of lodging or in a commercial establishment. Stored fish must be labeled with your full name, address, permit number, species of fish and the date placed in storage. Fish taken in another state by methods not permitted in Missouri may not be possessed on waters of the state.

Approved Aquatic Species List

Fishes

  • Alligator Gar (Lepisosteus spatula)
  • American eel (Anguilla rostrata)
  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
  • Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)
  • Bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)
  • Black bullhead (Ameirus melas)
  • Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
  • Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)
  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus)
  • Bluntnose minnow (Pimephales notatus)
  • Bowfin (Amia calva)
  • Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
  • Brown bullhead (Ameirus nebulosus)
  • Brown trout (Salmo trutta)
  • Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
  • Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
  • Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
  • Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)
  • Fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)
  • Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)
  • Freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)
  • Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
  • Golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)
  • Golden trout (Oncorhynchus aquabonita)
  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
  • Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
  • Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
  • Longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
  • Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus)
  • Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)
  • Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)
  • Northern pike (Esox lucius)
  • Orangespotted sunfish (Lepomis humilis)
  • Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
  • Quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus)
  • Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
  • River carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio)
  •  Sauger (Sander canadensis)
  • Shortnose gar (Lepisosteus platostomus)
  • Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus)
  • Smallmouth bass (Micropterus  dolomieu)
  • Spotted bass (Micropterus  punctulatus)
  • Spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
  • Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)
  • Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense)
  • Walleye (Sander vitreus)
  • Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)
  • White bass (Morone chrysops)
  • White crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
  • White sucker (Catostomus commersoni)
  • Yellow bullhead (Ameirus natalis)
  • Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)

Crustaceans

  • Calico (“Papershell”) crayfish (Orconectes immunis)
  • Freshwater prawn (Macrabrachi um rosenbergii)
  • Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)
  • Red Swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii)
  • Virile (“Northern”) crayfish (Orconectes virilis)
  • White River crawfish (Procambarus acutus)

Related Content

Live Bait Regulations

Know Missouri's live-bait regulations, including species, methods, length limits, seasons, and daily limits.

Live Bait Dealers

Browse and search for live bait dealers throughout Missouri.

Porous-Soled Waders Ban

Didymo is an invasive alga that can lodge in porous-soled waders.

Porous-soled waders include shoes, boots, or waders with porous soles made of felt or any matted or woven fibrous material.

To keep didymo from invading trout waters, porous-soled waders are prohibited on the following waters:

Trout Parks

  • Maramec Spring Park
  • Bennett Spring State Park
  • Montauk State Park
  • Roaring River State Park

Lakes and streams

  • Barren Fork Creek in Shannon County
  • Blue Springs Creek in Crawford County
  • Capps Creek in Barry and Newton counties
  • Crane Creek in Stone and Lawrence counties
  • Current River in Dent, Texas, and Shannon counties
  • Dry Fork Creek in Crawford and Phelps counties
  • Eleven Point River in Oregon County
  • Hickory Creek in Newton County
  • Lake Taneycomo and its tributaries in Taney County
  • Little Piney Creek in Phelps County
  • Meramec River in Crawford and Phelps counties
  • Mill Creek in Phelps County
  • Niangua River in Dallas and Laclede counties
  • North Fork of White River in Ozark County
  • Roaring River in Barry County
  • Roubidoux Creek in Pulaski County
  • Spring Creek in Phelps County
  • Stone Mill Spring Branch in Pulaski County

Live Bait Regulations

Live Bait Species

Live bait includes crayfish, freshwater shrimp, southern leopard frogs, plains leopard frogs, cricket frogs, and nongame fish. Bullfrogs and green frogs taken under season limits and methods also may be used as bait.

  • Bighead carp and silver carp may not be used as live bait but may be used as dead or cut bait.
  • Live bait taken from public waters of Missouri may not be sold or transported to other states.
  • Game fish or their parts may not be used as bait.

Methods

  • Live bait may be taken by trap, dip net, throw net, pole and line or seine.
  • Live-bait traps must have a throat opening not more than 1-1/2 inches in any dimension, and must be labeled with the user’s full name and address, or Conservation Number.
  • Traps must be removed if they cannot be checked at least once every 24 hours.
  • Seines must not be more than 20 feet long and 4 feet deep, with a mesh of not more than 1/2 inch bar measure.
  • Live bait, except fish, may be taken by hand.
  • Crayfish also may be taken by trap with an opening not to exceed 1-1/2 inches by 18 inches.

Length Limits

  • All bluegill, green sunfish and bullheads more than 5 inches long and other species of nongame fish more than 12 inches long must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught by any of the methods listed above except pole and line. The daily limits for nongame fish apply to the large fish taken by pole and line.
  • There is no length limit on bighead carp, common carp, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp and silver carp when used as bait.

Seasons

Live bait may be taken throughout the year.

Daily Limit

  • A combined total of 150 crayfish, freshwater shrimp and non-game fish.
  • 5 each of southern leopard frog, plains leopard frog and cricket frog.
  • A combined total of 8 bullfrogs and green frogs. Bullfrogs and green frogs may be taken only from sunset June 30 through Oct. 31.
  • Any number of goldfish and bighead, common, grass and silver carp.
  • Any number of live bait, when purchased or obtained from a source other than the waters of the state or a licensed commercial fisherman; must be species on the Approved Aquatic Species List and angler must carry a dated receipt for the bait.

Other Species That May be Used as Bait

  • Nongame fish of any size, except bowfin, if taken according to the non-game methods and seasons.
  • Mussels and clams legally taken by sport fish methods.

Check the Code

This is NOT a legal document. Regulations are subject to revision during the current year.
Refer to the Wildlife Code.

Fishing Regulations Summary