Fishing Regulations


Section 2.3 and Section 7.41, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, as well as State law establish the regulations for fishing in Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River as applicable to the United States side of the Rio Grande and certain other park waters. The regulations are condensed here for your convenience; full regulations may be examined at any Visitor Center.

SEASON: Open all year

OPEN WATERS: Rio Grande only

CLOSED WATERS: Special ponds and springs are reserved for the preservation of rare fish and the taking or release of any form of fish life is prohibited.

LICENSE: A State fishing license is not required in Big Bend National Park, but a free NPS fishing permit (obtained from a visitor center) is required. State license required on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River outside the Park.

LEGAL METHODS FOR FISHING: Pole and line; rod, reel, and line; throw (hand) line; trot line. Trot lines (attached parallel to the bank) and throw lines (attached at one end only) must have gear tags attached marked with name, address, and date. Flagging for relocation of lines shall be tied to the line, not vegetation. Flagging and lines are to be removed when fishing is completed. Jug lines (a line tied to a free-floating device) are legal on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River outside the park, but must have gear tags that are marked and dated.

PROHIBITED METHODS: Jug lines are illegal in the park. Fishing with traps, spears, drugs, poisons, explosives, electricity, or any other method not identified as legal is illegal. Chumming is illegal. Seines and nets are prohibited, except that minnow seines no greater in length than 20 feet may be used for taking bait minnows from the Rio Grande.

LIMIT: 25 fish per person per day or in possession in Big Bend National Park. State limits apply on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. Limits do not apply to bait minnows.

SALE OF FISH: Fishing for profit or commercial use is prohibited.

BAIT: Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates are protected in the Park. No collecting of worms, larval insects, or other non-fish life forms is allowed. Use of live bait, except minnows obtained from the Rio Grande within the Park or within the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, is not allowed.

ABANDONMENT OF PROPERTY: Leaving any personal property, including trot and throw lines, unattended for longer than 24 hours, without prior permission of the Superintendent, is prohibited, and any property so left may be impounded.

CAMPING AND BOATING PERMITS: A permit is required for boating or backcountry camping in Big Bend National Park and overnight boating in the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River outside the park. Permits are available at a park visitor center.

LITTER AND TRASH: Please dispose of all trash properly. Toilet paper must be carried out as trash, not buried. Fish parts must be carried out or deposited in the main river current.

GENERATORS: Generators and other portable motors or engines (excluding boat motors) cannot be operated in nondeveloped areas. Backcountry campsites are considered nondeveloped areas.

BOATS: All motorboats are required to be numbered in accordance with state regulations.

Last updated: June 29, 2021

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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