General Fishing Methods

You may take fish by pole and line, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line and jug line. Ice fishing tackle, or tip-ups, are considered a pole-and-line method.

Permitted Nonhook Methods

Certain species in designated waters may be taken by the use of bow, crossbow, gig, atlatl, snare or by underwater spearfishing, snagging or grabbing. However, game fish not hooked in the mouth or jaw must be returned to the water unharmed immediately, except paddlefish legally taken during the paddlefish snagging season. All of the above methods of taking fish are considered sport fishing methods. (See Regulations and Permits Definitions under Related Information below).

Number of Poles and Hooks

If you use more than 3 poles (or 2 poles on the Mississippi River) at any one time, the additional poles must be labeled with your full name and address. Regardless of the method or number of poles, you may not use more than a total of 33 hooks at any one time; except on the Mississippi River the maximum is 50 hooks at one time. If fishing on the Mississippi River and on other Missouri waters at the same time, no more than 50 hooks may be used and not more than 33 on waters other than the Mississippi. Hooks on trotlines must be staged at least 2 feet apart. Hooks on any type of line, as well as the line itself, must be attended every 24 hours or removed.

Use of Explosives, Chemicals and Shocking Prohibited

No one may use any explosive, poison, chemical or electrical equipment to kill or stupefy fish. Such material or equipment may not even be possessed on waters of the state or adjacent banks. Spearguns may not be possessed on unimpounded waters or adjacent banks, and spears may not be propelled by explosives. It also is illegal to attempt to take fish by hand, with or without a hook, and to intentionally leave or abandon any commonly edible portion of any fish.

Fish Traps and Bait Traps

Fish traps, including slat and wire ones, may not be possessed on waters in Missouri or on adjacent banks. However, live-bait traps are allowed.

Labels Required: You must place a tag of a durable material with your full name and address on live-bait traps, trotlines, throwlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines and live boxes. New! These items also may be labeled with just the user’s
Conservation Number.

Use of Lights

As an aid to fishing methods, an artificial light may be used only above the water surface. However, while fishing by pole and line only, underwater lights may be used to attract fish. New! Underwater lights also may be used when bowfishing on lakes, ponds and other impoundments.

Key Messages: 
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.