Call us anytime: 844-243-5707

Rules and Regulations for Bow Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Friday, 07 June 2013. Posted in Fishing Advice

Bow Fishing is incredibly popular in Florida. Anglers delight in the primitive hunting approach that offers a completely different challenge to the traditional hook-and-line fishing methods. We strongly recommend this experience for anyone wishing to catch fish. Before you go acquire a bow and arrow and start practicing your aim, it is important to know the strict rules and regulations that apply to bow fishing in Florida:

License Requirements for Bow Fishing in Florida

The same license requirements apply for bows and arrows as are necessary for other methods of fishing. However, you may need a permit to fish in certain areas so it is advisable that you check with the management of the place where you want to go bow fishing beforehand.

Bow Fishing Area Regulations in Florida

In some areas of Florida, it is illegal to use a bow or crossbow or even to possess them. These are usually places where there are people around and these rules must be obeyed for safety reasons. Weapons such as these are powerful and can inflict severe injury to innocent bystanders, or even kill by accident. Parks, refuges and sanctuaries are obvious places to avoid. If you plan on using a bow in a certain area, please check with the management of the place before you go there.

Freshwater Fish Bow Fishing Regulations in Florida

Many freshwater fish may not be taken with bows and arrows, crossbows or spears. These include all game fish found in freshwater rivers, lakes or dams. Here are some rules to remember:

  • During daylight hours, non-game freshwater fish may be fished with bows and arrows. However, there are safety regulations that prevent you from using this technique in certain places.
    • You may not bow fish anywhere on the Jim Woodruff Dam spillway.
    • Likewise, you are not allowed to use a bow and arrow at the Eureka Dam and Rodman Dam spillways.
    • Bow fishing is also prohibited in the Dade County canals south of C-4 and east of L-31N and L-31W.
  • At night, you may use a bow and arrow to catch non-game freshwater fish provided you use a powerful night light.
    • In the Northwest Region, night bow fishing tournaments do not require a permit.
  • You may not be in possession of a bow if you have any freshwater game fish on your boat. It is illegal to have any fish onboard that are not allowed to be taken with the gear you have with you.

This is a list of the fish you MAY NOT catch while bow fishing in Florida:

  • Bluegill
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Warmouth
  • Redear Sunfish
  • Redbreast Sunfish
  • Spotted Sunfish
  • Mud Sunfish
  • Longear Sunfish
  • Flier
  • Shadow Bass
  • White Bass
  • Peacock Bass
  • Sunshine Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Alligator Gar

If a freshwater fish is not classified as a game fish and it is not fished for sport, then you may use a bow and arrow to catch it. This is a list of the fish that you MAY catch while bow fishing in Florida:

  • Common Carp
  • Catfish
  • Bowfin
  • Eels
  • Pickerel
  • Gar (but not Alligator Gar)
  • Threadfin Shad
  • Gizzard Shad
  • Shiners
  • Tilapia
  • Suckers
  • Topminnows
  • Killifish

Saltwater Fish Bow Fishing Regulations in Florida

There are size and bag limits that apply for various saltwater fish during established seasons. Make sure that you check beforehand what the regulations are for the fish you are targeting. All saltwater game fish and all families of ornamental reef fish are prohibited for bow fishing, but you can catch any other fish outside of these categories.

The following saltwater fish MAY NOT be harvested by bow and arrow:

  • Blue Marlin
  • White Marlin
  • Black or Striped Marlin
  • Sailfish
  • Swordfish
  • Spearfish
  • Spotted Eagle Ray
  • Sturgeon
  • Manta Ray
  • Sharks
  • Tarpon
  • Bonefish
  • Goliath Grouper
  • Snook
  • Blue Crab
  • Spotted Sea Trout
  • Nassau Grouper
  • Weakfish
  • Red Drum
  • Pompano
  • Stone Crab
  • African Pompano
  • Tripletail
  • Permit
  • Lobster
  • Trumpetfish
  • Surgeonfish
  • Butterflyfish
  • Angelfish
  • Porcupinefish
  • Cornetfish
  • Trunkfish
  • Squirrelfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Damselfish
  • Pipefish
  • Puffer
  • Seahorse
  • Triggerfish (except Gray Triggerfish and Ocean Triggerfish – which you may target with arrows)

We strongly recommend that you keep informed of the current rules and regulations regarding bow fishing in Florida, as well as the latest bag and size limits. Florida’s Recreational Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing Regulations are published twice annually. This is specifically so that anglers can keep themselves well educated about the laws involved with recreational fishing. Be sure to keep yourself fully informed.

Call now to book your Bow Fishing Charter in Florida and delight in the primitive experience.

About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


Comments (0)

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment. Optional login below.