About Freshwater Commercial Fishing in Mississippi

The use of certain fishing gear and/or the selling of non-game gross fish are activities regulated under the authority of commercial fishing regulations.

Freshwater Commercial Fishing Licenses are sold at all fishing and hunting license vendor locations and at MDWFP Regional Offices, most State Parks, State Fishing Lakes, and at the MDWFP Jackson Office. Freshwater Commercial Fishing Licenses can also be purchased by mail and over the phone with a credit card by calling 1-800-5GO-HUNT.

License Types & Fees

  • Resident Freshwater Commercial Fishing License: $30.00*
  • Non-Resident Freshwater Commercial Fishing License: $200.00*
  • Slat Basket License: $30.00*

*Prices do not include processing fees and agent fees.

Daily Limits & Size Limits

  • Alligator gar: 2 per person per day; no size limit
  • Channel catfish and blue catfish: no daily limit; minimum size limit is 12 inches
  • Flathead catfish and buffalofish: no daily limit; minimum size limit is 16 inches
Apply for a Commercial Fishing License
Download the application to fill out and mail to the MDWFP Jackson Office.

Rules & Regulations

All residents and non-residents must purchase a Mississippi Freshwater Commercial Fishing License and a Slat Basket License in order to fish slat baskets in Mississippi waters. A Slat Basket License is required for each slat basket that a person fishes.

There are no license exemptions (age or disability) for those who fish commercially or for those helping a person with a Freshwater Commercial Fishing License fish commercial fishing gear. A person holding a Freshwater Commercial Fishing License can be assisted by a helper who has any valid license issued by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks. Everyone in the boat with a licensed commercial fisherman is considered a "helper", and all helpers must have a license.

A Freshwater Commercial Fishing License is required to:

  • Sell, resell, ship, or purchase for resale non-game gross fish and non-native fish
  • Fish commercial fishing gear
  • Harvest minnows from public waters
  • Sell minnows at wholesale
  • Sell, resell, or export across state lines crawfish and freshwater shrimp taken from public waters
  • Purchase a Slat Basket License (needed for each slat basket)

Review rules and regulations for border states.

Reviews rules pertaining to turtles, snakes, mussels, and others. All commercial harvest of these species is illegal.

Recent Changes to Commercial Fishing Rules

In January 2022, the revised Commercial Fishing Rule became effective. Review the current Commercial Fishing Rule.

  • The alligator gar quota has been removed. The daily creel limit for alligator gar is 2 fish per person per day.
  • Lift traps are legal to use for crawfish.
  • Written permission to check, run, set, and remove fish from another person's gear must include both the name and MDWFP number of the person running the gear and the name and the MDWFP number of the person owning the gear. This written permission must be carried on the person running the gear.
  • The harvest and/or possession of paddlefish by resident and non-resident freshwater commercial fishermen on all lands and waters in the State of Mississippi is prohibited. This includes all Mississippi waters and lands in border water areas adjacent to other states. 
  • Gear use in sections of the Pascagoula River has been clarified in a separate rule section. 
  • The special harvest season for Asian carp at Moon Lake is October 1 - April 30 each year.
  • Commercial fishing is prohibited in all National Wildlife Refuges and in all National Forest waters in Mississippi.
  • Commercial fishermen do not have to report their harvest and fishing activities until asked to do so by the MDWFP.
Invasive Carp Program

There are companies that buy silver carp, grass carp, bighead carp, and black carp and need commercial fishermen to harvest these species. If you would like more information about these companies and how to contact them, please call Dennis Riecke at (601) 432-2207, or send an email to dennis.riecke@wfp.ms.gov.

Non-Game Gross Fish

The category of fishes listed as "non-game gross fish" are a valuable resource, supplying protein, income, and enjoyment. These fish are sometimes referred to as "rough fish". They consist of catfishes, buffalofishes, paddlefish (spoonbill catfish), carp, shad, gar, drum, and several species of minnows. Non-game gross fish can be sold by persons having a commercial fishing license.

Commercial Non-Game Gross Fish

The following is a list of the non-game gross fish in Mississippi, as defined in State Law 49-7-9, that can be caught in commercial fishing gear and/or sold:

  • Buffalofishes: smallmouth buffalo, bigmouth buffalo, black buffalo
  • Other suckers: quillback, highfin carpsucker, river carpsucker, blacktail redhorse
  • Catfishes: channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, yellow bullhead, brown bullhead, black bullhead
  • Gars: alligator gar, spotted gar, shortnose gar, longnose gar
  • Bowfin
  • American eel
  • Freshwater drum (gaspagoo, gaspergou)
  • Common carp
  • Paddlefish (spoonbill catfish): Closed to all commercial harvest, possession, and sale as of October 2019.
  • Shad: gizzard shad, threadfin shad
Commercial Non-Native Fish

The following non-native fish also require a commercial license to sell, as stated in State Law 49-7-90:

  • Asian carp: grass carp, silver carp, bighead carp

Commercial Fishing Gear

Non-game gross fish (rough fish) and non-native fish can be harvested using traditional sport fishing gear, but they can also be caught using commercial fishing gear, such as gill nets, trammel nets, hoop nets (also called barrel nets, fiddler nets, or lead nets), slat boxes, and trotlines. A person must have a freshwater commercial fishing license to fish commercial fishing gear. Although a trotline can be fished on a sport license, a freshwater commercial license is needed when fishing a trotline with more than 100 hooks.

Please see the Commercial Fishing Rule for waters closed to the use of commercial fishing gear.

Gill Nets and Trammel Nets

Gill nets and trammel nets are nets made of multifilament or monofilament twine that are used to entangle fish. A minimum mesh of three and a half (3.5) inches square measure may be used statewide. Smaller mesh gill nets and trammel nets may be fished in the areas mentioned below.


  • A minimum of three (3) inch mesh square measure gill nets may be used in the main channels of the Mississippi and Pearl Rivers, Pickwick Lake, and in lakes and streams where the Mississippi/Louisiana state line occurs, including any public waters that are within the overflow of the Mississippi River along the MS/LA border.
  • Gill nets and trammel nets must be set at least 100 yards apart and no nearer than 20 yards to piers.
  • Maximum length shall be 3,000 feet.
  • An equipment tag shall be attached to one end of the float line of each gill net and trammel net.

Trotlines are lines with droppers that have hooks. A commercial license is required to run trotlines with more than 100 hooks in aggregate.

Hooks must be at least 24 inches apart and tied so they cannot slip together. No trotlines shall exceed 1,000 feet. An equipment tag shall be attached within 5 feet of one end of the mainline of each trotline.

Hoop Nets or Barrel Nets

A trap made out of hoops and twine with throats that prevent escape of the fish.

Mesh: minimum of 3 inch square measure, made of No. 15 twine or bigger and treated. Twine or cord only. Hearts may be used only between the main levees of the Mississippi River. Hoop nets or barrel nets must be set at least 100 yards apart (Section 49-7-81). Legally licensed residents of Mississippi fishing with barrel nets and/or hoop nets in Mississippi waters, which are a common boundary between Mississippi and another state (oxbow lakes included), may use a mesh size which is the same mesh size allowed in the other state; except leads, hearts, and wings are prohibited in Mississippi waters when attached to barrel or hoop nets with minimum square mesh of less than three (3) inches. An equipment tag shall be attached to the front hoop on each hoop net.

A lead net is a hoop net with a net attached that "leads" the fish to the hoop net. A hoop net may be fished on each end of a lead. As such, this constitutes one set, and each set must be 100 yards apart. There is a maximum of seven lead nets per fisherman. Leads can be a maximum of 35 yards in length and must be made of three (3) inch square mesh of treated No. 15 twine or bigger.


The use of seines is prohibited for all non-game gross fish.

No open season, except for minnow seines.

Minnow Seines

Totaling no more than 25 feet in length and four (4) feet in depth. The use of minnow seines in any of the public lakes in Mississippi and in certain waters below the flood control reservoir dams is prohibited.

Minnow Traps

Are jars constructed of glass, plastic, non-metallic, or wire mesh not more than 30 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter having no wings or leads and having an entrance no larger than one inch in diameter. May be used for taking minnows for bait only.

Crawfish Traps

Crawfish traps are typically of the pillow or pyramid style or are life nets. Crawfish traps are any device constructed of coated wire or plastic mesh with openings of the throats or flues not exceeding two inches in diameter and which are used for the sole purpose of taking crawfish.

Tagging requirement: Each crawfish trap fished in public water shall be marked with a waterproof tag provided by the fisherman, with their MDWFP number legibly printed on the tag using the same criteria as other commercial equipment.

Slat Baskets

A wooden trap used to catch almost exclusively catfish.

Slat baskets shall be made entirely of wood and/or plastic slats in a boxlike or cylindrical shape. Slat baskets shall not exceed six (6) feet in length nor exceed fifteen (15) inches in width and height or diameter. May have no more than two (2) throats, and must have at least four (4) slot openings of a minimum one and one-fourth (1 1/4) inches by twenty-four (24) inches, evenly spaced around the sides of the catch area. The one and one fourth (1 1/4 ) inch-wide slots must begin at the rear of the basket and run twenty-four (24) inches toward the throat end of the basket.

Slat baskets shall be placed at least one hundred (100) yards apart and may not be used with any form of leads, netting, or guiding devices. Each slat basket shall have a tag permanently attached to the front end of the basket.

Freshwater Shrimp Traps

Freshwater shrimp traps are wire traps used to capture freshwater shrimp for bait. The traps must be no larger than 36 inches long from the rear of the heart to the leading edge of the trap, and no larger than 24 inches wide between the leading edges of the trap or heart opening and no larger than 12 inches high. The trap cannot have any external or unattached wings, weirs, or other guiding devices intended to funnel shrimp to the trap heart.

Shrimp traps fished in public water shall be marked with a waterproof tag provided by the fisherman, with their MDWFP number legibly printed on the tag using the same criteria as other commercial equipment.

Tags for Commercial Fishing Gear & Equipment

All gill nets, trammel nets, hoop nets, slat baskets, commercial trotlines, crawfish traps, and shrimp traps must have a tag attached that identifies the owner of the gear by their unique MDWFP Number (#) as found on the owner's license (found above the license holder's date of birth).

A valid tag will be waterproof and have waterproof marking, or engraving, of the fisher's MDWFP Number in legible numbers at least ΒΌ" in height. A valid tag can be either a tag supplied by the fisherman, or tags previously sold by MDWFP in which the owner has engraved their MDWFP # on the tag. All tags sold by MDWFP prior to June 25, 2012 are no longer valid, as they do not have the owner's MDWFP # on the tag. However, those tags can be flipped over and will be valid when engraved or marked with gear owner's MDWFP #. The MDWFP # is a number unique to each customer of the MDWFP license system.

Asian Carp Resources

Asian carp are invasive species that can harm our native fishes. However, they can be consumed. See below for some recipes and videos on how to prepare the fish.

For information on companies willing to purchase Asian carp and non-game gross fish, contact Dennis Riecke, MDWFP Fisheries Bureau, at (601) 432-2207, or send an email to dennis.riecke@wfp.ms.gov.

Video Tips for Preparing Asian Carp
Introduction and basic cleaning
Additional processing of filets
Deboning filets

Contact Information

For questions or more information on Mississippi's freshwater commercial fisheries, contact:

MDWFP Fisheries Bureau
1505 Eastover Drive
Jackson, MS 39211
(601) 432-2200

Fisheries Coordinator

More Information

Hunting Rules

Access all rules and regulations associated with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to ensure compliance and safety.