The Trout Limit in North Carolina

The Trout Limit in North Carolina

Fishing is a popular pastime in the United States, with millions of people participating each year. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice just starting out, understanding the regulations and requirements for fishing licenses is crucial. This guide will provide comprehensive information on fishing licenses in the USA, with a particular focus on trout fishing in North Carolina.

The Trout Limit in North Carolina

Understanding Fishing Licenses

In the USA, anyone over the age of 15 who wishes to fish in state waters must obtain a valid fishing license. This applies to both residents and non-residents. The type of license you need depends on the type of fishing you plan to do and whether you live in the state. For example, if you live outside of North Carolina and plan to make only one fishing trip to the state, then a non-resident, short-term license may be your best option.

Youth under the age of 16 are exempt from the requirements of any fishing license and trout privilege license. It’s important to note that inland and coastal waters require separate fishing licenses, however, a joint license is available to purchase from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission or an approved vendor.

Freshwater Trout Regulations

In North Carolina, the regulations for trout fishing vary depending on the type of water. For wild trout waters and catch and release areas, only artificial lures, and hook and line are permitted. Gold and yellow signs indicate that there are wild trout areas where natural bait is okay. In trout waters supported by hatcheries, there are no bait restrictions.

The catch limit for trout in North Carolina is four fish per day in public mountains and wild trout waters and seven fish per day in undesignated trout waters and those supported by hatcheries. The minimum total length limit of wild trout waters is seven inches while there is no length restriction for the other harvestable trout waters.

Saltwater Trout Regulations

For saltwater trout, also referred to as spotted seatrout, the daily catch limit is four fish at least fourteen inches in total length. These regulations apply to all North Carolina coastal and inland saltwater bodies.

North Carolina Trout Season

Catch and release and wild trout waters are open for trout fishing all year round. In trout waters supported by hatcheries, trout fishing is currently open through the end of February 2024. Then again between the dates of April 2 and July 31. Trout fishing season dates beyond the end of July 2024 have not yet been determined.


Fishing is a rewarding activity that requires knowledge and understanding of the rules and regulations. By adhering to these guidelines, you can enjoy a successful fishing trip while also preserving the natural resources for future generations. Always remember to check the latest information on fishing licenses and regulations before heading out to fish.

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