Thank you for visiting the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website. www.wildlife.state.nh.us NH Fish and Game

 

 

Marine Resources: Frequently Asked Questions

 

License FAQs

 

Who needs the license?
All persons age 16 and older recreationally fishing in coastal and estuarine waters of the state must purchase a NH Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. This includes anglers, spearfishers and persons using other gear types who wish to take, possess, or transport marine finfish for personal use and which are not sold.
How much does the license cost?
The license costs $11 (includes $1 agent fee) for individuals.
Can children fish without a license?
Children under the age of 16, resident or nonresident, are not required to purchase a NH fishing license.
Where can I buy the license?
You can purchase your license online anytime at fishnh.com or visit one of our local license agents statewide.
Where can I fish with the license?
Your NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License allows you to fish in NH coastal and estuarine waters, all Massachusetts coastal and estuarine waters, as well as the entire Maine coast!
As a NH Resident, can I buy a Massachusetts or Maine saltwater license and fish here in New Hampshire?
No. By State law, NH residents cannot fish in New Hampshire using a Massachusetts saltwater license or Maine saltwater license, registry or endorsement. NH residents must have a New Hampshire Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to fish coastal or estuarine waters in New Hampshire.
What are "estuarine waters"?
"Coastal and estuarine waters" means all waters within the rise and fall of the tide, and water below any fishway or dam which is normally the dividing line between tide water and fresh water. For example, anglers will need a NH Saltwater Recreational Fishing License to fish below the dam on the Lamprey River in Newmarket. Above the dam, they would need a NH Freshwater Fishing License.
Do anglers age 68 and older have to pay for their NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License?
Yes. All anglers age 16 and older must pay for a NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to fish recreationally in the coastal and estuarine waters of the state.
Why do senior anglers need a saltwater license, when they can get free freshwater fishing licenses in NH?
In order to qualify for the exemption from the National Saltwater Angler Registry, we need to provide specific current information each year about all saltwater recreational fishermen 16+ years of age. If we gave people a free license at age 68, as we do for the freshwater license, the information would be unusable if they moved or changed phone numbers. Given that the cost of the license is relatively low compared to many fishing and hunting licenses, plus the fact that the seniors would still need to get a license every year, the decision was made to make the price the same for all anglers age 16 and older – both residents and non-residents.
I hold a Lifetime Freshwater Fishing License, will this cover me when I fish in saltwater as well?
If you purchased a Lifetime Fishing License prior to 2011, you may obtain a free permit each year limited to fishing for saltwater smelt, American shad, trout and salmon in coastal and estuarine waters. The permit must be applied for each year at the NH Fish and Game Department office in Concord, NH (Find a print and mail application here.) NOTE: If you fish for any species other than saltwater smelt, American shad, trout and salmon, you must hold a paid N.H Recreational Saltwater Fishing License. Please note that a Lifetime License is different than the "over 68" freshwater fishing license.
I take a chartered fishing trip every summer, will I need to buy a license to fish on a charter boat?
No. There is a separate license for charter and party boats. You will be exempt from holding a NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License as long as you are fishing on a licensed charter or party boat.
Do I still need to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry to fish in federal waters?
No. To fish in federal waters, you need a valid state saltwater fishing license or a federal permit that exempts you from the National Saltwater Angler Registry. However, if you have a recreational federal permit such as the HMS Angling category permit, you still need the NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to take, possess, or transport your recreationally caught species through New Hampshire state waters.
I will be traveling and want to fish in other states; do I need to purchase a license from each state I fish in?
Yes. The exception is that if you hold a NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License, you may legally fish in all coastal and estuarine waters of Massachusetts and Maine. If you are visiting another state, you will have to purchase their saltwater license.
I am a NH resident, but I fish for stripers out of Kittery, Maine. Do I need to buy a license from both Maine and New Hampshire?
No. Your NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License allows you to fish in NH, Maine and Massachusetts coastal and estuarine waters.
Why is New Hampshire's license fee higher than similar licenses in Massachusetts and Maine?
The difference is in how our states are funded. In both Maine and Massachusetts, state marine fisheries agencies get state general fund monies to run their programs. New Hampshire is different in that our programs are paid for primarily by license fees.
Do I still need to purchase a freshwater license to fish for smelt through the ice of Great Bay?
No. You are only required to purchase the NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License.
I am a licensed lobsterman and I occasionally spend a little time angling for bluefish, stripers, or other fish while I am out pulling my traps. Do I need the NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to keep these fish?
Yes. If you are fishing for finfish in coastal and estuarine waters you will need a recreational saltwater fishing license take, possess, or transport finfish for personal use and which are not sold. However, if you plan to sell any of the finfish, you would need a Commercial Saltwater License. Your lobster license only provides the opportunity to fish for and harvest lobsters and crab.
Can I dip-net river herring from a river without a saltwater license if I have a Harvest Permit?
If your catch is for personal use, you need both a Harvest Permit and a NH Recreational Saltwater Fishing License; if you plan to sell the catch, you need a Commercial Saltwater License.
Can I fish in saltwater in New Hampshire without a license on Free Fishing Day?
Yes. On New Hampshire's designated Free Fishing Day (the first Saturday in June), both residents and nonresidents can fish inland, coastal or estuarine waters in New Hampshire without a fishing license. One exception: anglers fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset rivers must have a fishing license and a special permit. Note that season dates, bag limits and all other fishing regulations must be followed on Free Fishing Day.
What are the license fees used for?
Recreational saltwater fishing license fees go into the Fish and Game fund, as other license revenue does, providing the largest source of funding for the Department's work managing and conserving New Hampshire's fish, wildlife and marine resources. If the saltwater license had not been implemented, New Hampshire anglers would have been required to pay a similar fee to the National Angler Registry and the funds would have gone directly to the federal government.
Why was the new license put in place?
Since January 2010, recreational anglers who fish in federal waters have been required to register each year with NOAA Fisheries. Registration is also required for those who may catch anadromous species such as salmon, striped bass, smelt and shad that spawn in rivers and streams and spend their adult lives in estuaries and the ocean. Required by the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Angler Registry is key to closing a major gap in information on recreational saltwater fishing. It also helps NOAA demonstrate the economic value of saltwater recreational fishing on local and national economies. Registration was free for the first year but was $15 for 2011. NOAA allowed states to exempt anglers from federal registration if they have a program in place to account for all of its saltwater anglers. Through legislation passed in 2009, New Hampshire met this requirement by establishing a recreational saltwater fishing license effective January 1, 2011. The new state license ensures that fees paid by New Hampshire anglers stay in the state to help manage fish and wildlife.
Do you sell Fish and Game licenses at the Region 3 Office?
Licenses are not sold at Fish and Game's Region 3 Office.
Does Fish and Game’s website have a list of licensing agents?
Yes, please visit the license agent webpage.

 

Shellfish and Lobster FAQs

 

Are nonresidents permitted to take clams and oysters?
No, only residents are allowed to purchase licenses for the taking of clams and oysters.
Are the clam flats open this weekend?
Call the Clam Flat Hotline at 1-800-43CLAMS (1-800-432-5267) for the most up-to-date information or view the same info on this website. The hotline is generally updated by Friday afternoon each week.
Do you have maps showing the areas where shellfishing is allowed?
Maps are available in the NH Saltwater Fishing Digest.
Are NH shellfish safe to eat?
Generally, yes, with exceptions: if there is a Red Tide warning or other shellfish contamination issue, it will be shown on the Clam Flat Status page. Shellfish from closed areas may not be harvested or eaten.
What do I need to allow me to land lobsters that were harvested outside of state waters in NH?
You will need a Wholesale Marine Species License if not licensed to harvest lobsters in state waters. To request this license, contact the Marine Division at (603) 868-1095 or Licensing/Front Desk at (603) 271-3422 between the hours of 8am and 4pm.
Can I dive for lobster?
No. It is illegal to harvest lobster by diving in the State of New Hampshire.
I haven’t received my lobster trap tags yet. Do you have a number for Cambridge Security Seals?
Issues with lobster trap tags must be resolved through the Marine Fisheries Division (603) 868-1095, not Cambridge Security Seals.
What do I need to allow me to land lobsters that were harvested outside of state waters in NH?
You will need a Wholesale Marine Species License if not licensed to harvest lobsters in state waters. To request this license, contact the Marine Division at (603) 868-1095 or Licensing/Front Desk at (603) 271-3422 between the hours of 8am and 4pm.
There have been a lot of lobster traps and gear washed up on the beach. Do you do anything about it?
NH Fish and Game organizes a spring cleanup each year with the NH Commercial Fishermen’s Association to clean up all the lobster gear debris caused by storms, etc.
Are nonresidents permitted to take clams and oysters?
No, only residents are allowed to purchase licenses for the taking of clams and oysters.
Are the clam flats open this weekend?
Call the Clam Flat Hotline at 1-800-43CLAMS (1-800-432-5267) for the most up-to-date information or see the same info on this website. The hotline is generally updated by Friday afternoon each week.
Do you have maps showing the areas where shellfishing is allowed?
Maps are available in the NH Saltwater Fishing Digest or visit the Department of Environmental Services Shellfish Program website.
What species of clam is covered by rules that mention simply “clams”?
The soft shell clam (Mya arenaria) is the principal regulated clam. Also present for taking, but with different harvest regulations, are surf clams (Spisula solidissma) and razor clam (Ensis directus).

 

General / Miscellaneous FAQs

 

How can I get a NH Saltwater Fishing Digest?
Read the NH Saltwater Fishing Digest online. You can pick up a printed publication at Fish and Game's headquarters in Concord (603) 271-3422 or the Department's Region 3 office in Durham, NH (603) 868-1095.
Is there a website that has more NH saltwater fishing information?
For the moment, the best resource -- other than this site -- is the NH Saltwater Fishing Digest (see previous question). Another publication called the Saltwater Fishing Guide is a printed booklet containing descriptions of some saltwater species and coastal fishing/boating access sites; to request a copy by mail, call the Region 3 office at (603) 868-1095.
Where can I talk to someone concerning questions about saltwater resources or rules?
There are marine biologists and law enforcement personnel at Fish and Game's Region 3 Office (603) 868-1095 Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM.
Who do I call if I see a dead or injured seal or other marine mammal?
Contact the Seacoast Science Center at (603) 997-9448.
Are NH saltwater fish safe to eat?
Read the most recent ocean fish and shellfish consumption guidelines. Or, contact Fish and Game's Region 3 Office at (603) 868-1095 or NH Department of Environmental Services at (603) 559-1509.
There have been a lot of lobster traps and gear washed up on the beach. Do you do anything about it?
NH Fish and Game organizes a spring cleanup each year with the NH Commercial Fishermen’s Association to clean up all the lobster gear debris caused by storms, etc.
Where is a good place to fish from the shore?
Our brochure, Take Me Fishing - NH Seashore offers suggestions for where to fish on the coast, including parking, fishing tips and more. Also, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve offers a list of Great Bay-area access points.
Are the stripers in?
Anglers begin catching striped bass on New Hampshire's coastline in large numbers in late May and early June, and will catch them throughout the summer months. Isolated groups of fish can be caught following river herring runs up to coastal dams in the spring. Check the NH Saltwater Fishing Digest for rules regarding fishing near fish ladders and dams on coastal rivers. For updates, check out the NH Weekly Fishing Report, a free email report that includes weekly recreational saltwater fishing updates for the NH coast, available April through September.
I launch my boat in New Hampshire and fish in Maine, where the striped bass regulations are different. If I catch a legal striper by Maine regulations, but it is not legal by New Hampshire regulations, can I land it in New Hampshire?
The striped bass regulations as they appear in the Saltwater Fishing Digest are as follows: minimum length 28 inches and a daily limit of 1 fish. Sale of striped bass is prohibited, regardless of origin. Netting is prohibited except when landing by use of a hand-held dip net. Gaffing is prohibited. Head and tail must remain intact while on or leaving state waters or shores.