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NC Saltwater Fishing Citation Requirements

Tag and Release Flag

Each year the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries sponsors an open tournament for recreational anglers. Fishermen who land or release certain saltwater species of a minimum size in NC's coastal waters are eligible for a citation certificate that commends their catch as extraordinary.

The rules are pretty simple. The fish must be caught on hook and line and landed without electric or hydrolic equipment. Fish must then be weighed by an authorized weighmaster at an official weighstation where the weighmaster will inspect the catch. For catch and release citations the angler or the mate must touch the fish or leader and the angler and a witness must fill out an application at an official weighstation.

If you have previously applied for a fishing citation and have questions, please contact the NC DMF directly.

Full Citation Program Information from the NCDMF
Complete List of Official Weighstations


North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Citation Minimum Weights

Species Minimum Weight
Albacore, False Release Only (E)
Amberjack 50 lbs.(H)
Atlantic Bonito 8 lbs.(B)
Barracuda Release Only (G)
Bass, Black Sea 4 lbs.
Bluefish 15 lbs.
Cobia 40 lbs.(D)
Croaker 3 lbs.
Dolphin 35 lbs.
Drum, Black 35 lbs. (F)
Drum, Red Release Only (F)
Flounder 5 lbs.
Grouper 20 lbs.
Jack, Crevalle Release Only (C)
Mackerel, King 30 lbs.(G)
Mackerel, Spanish 6 lbs.
Marlin, Blue 400 lbs.(A)
Marlin, White Release Only(A)
Mullet, Sea 1.5 lbs.
Pompano 2 lbs.
Porgy (Silver Snapper) 4 lbs.
Sailfish Release Only (A)
Shark 150 lbs. (J)
Sheepshead 8 lbs.
Spot 1 lbs.
Striped Bass 35 lbs.(G)
Tarpon Release Only (A)
Tilefish, Gray 10 lbs.
Triggerfish 5 lbs.
Trout, Gray 5 lbs. (B)
Trout, Speckled 5 lbs. (B)
Tuna, Bigeye 100 lbs.
Tuna, Blackfin 20 lbs.
Tuna, Bluefin 200 lbs.(I)
Tuna, Yellowfin 70 lbs.
Wahoo 40 lbs.

(A) Award for live release of fish, regardless of size.
(B) Award for live release of fish 24 inches or longer.
(C) Award for live release of fish 32 inches or longer.
(D) Award for live release of fish 33 inches or longer.
(E) Award for live release of fish 34 inches or longer.
(F) Award for live release of fish 40 inches or longer.
(G) Award for live release of fish 45 inches or longer.
(H) Award for live release of fish 50 inches or longer.
(I) Award for live release of fish 80 inches or longer.
(J) Award for live release of fish 80 inches or longer.


For more information on the NC saltwater fishing citation program contact Randy Gregory or Partha Howell with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.


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