Indiana Size & Weight Fishing Guidelines
Fishing in Indiana offers considerable variety. The state's waterways include major lakes and rivers. Anglers, though, face harsh penalties when they fail to follow the state's fishing regulations. Thus, it is important to know the guidelines you must follow.
Over the past century, Indiana has made numerous changes to fishing regulations in the state. In 1997, the state suspended commercial yellow perch fishing on Lake Michigan, and in 2009 it prohibited sportfishing for paddlefish after a major investigation discovered widespread poaching and illegal sale of the Ohio River species.
Fishing regulations in Indiana are based on two criteria: the daily bag limit and the minimum length of fish. For some fish, anglers are limited based only on one of the two criteria. Daily bag limit represents the total number of fish, per species, that an angler can keep during a single day of fishing. Minimum length is based upon the length of the fish in inches from nose to tail. Violating state regulations can lead to fines and penalties.
The Fish and Wildlife Division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sets bag limits and size limits for fishing in the state. The limitations are designed to protect fish species in Indiana. Guidelines are based on studies of fish in the state's freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. State biologists monitor and research the state's fish populations.
Indiana's freshwaters are diverse. They include sections of Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, and other rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Fish-size rules in Indiana vary based partly on the body of water fished. Check specific information for the body of water you plan to fish via the state's annual Indiana Fishing Guide, which is available for download at in.gov/dnr/fishwild/2347.htm
Due to Indiana's diverse freshwaters, it features more than 20 species of popular sportfish. The state places size limits on many species. The minimum length for black bass caught from Indiana lakes, including Lake Michigan, is 14 inches. The minimum for river-caught black bass is 12 inches. The minimum length for walleye is 14 inches. The minimum for musky is 36 inches. The minimum for Northern pike is 20 inches. The minimum for shovelnose sturgeon is 25 inches. Brook trout must be at least 7 inches long before anglers can keep them. Salmon must be 14 inches long.
Fish identification plays a part in following the state's guidelines. Largemouth bass are distinguishable by their upper jaw, which extends beyond the back of the eye. Brown trout have a white mouth and white teeth and gums. The 2009 Indiana Fishing Guide features extensive identification information on most fish species.
State officials use a standard measurement for length. According to the 2009 Indiana Fishing Guide, you measure fish via a straight line from the tip of the jaw when the mouth is closed to the tip of the tail fin, which should be pinched shut. To measure shovelnose sturgeon, start at the nose and measure to the fork in the tail fin.
Based in Central Florida, Ron White is a freelance journalist and stay-at-home dad. A former editor at a Central Florida daily newspaper, White now writes frequently for the "Daytona Beach News-Journal" and "Orlando Sentinel." He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.