Fishing in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. You will find all that and a sense of stewardship, conservation, and preservation on this page. We want you to have an enjoyable time during your visit, and for those who come after you to fish. Take some time to explore, learn what the park has to offer and learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use, and regulates fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources.
Fishing is only permitted at the Barataria Preserve and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center.
At the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, fishing is permitted from the banks.
The Barataria Preserve is a wetland area with several locations for fishing. Fishing is permitted bankside, by canoe or pirogue, and by motorized boat in some areas. There are roughly nine miles of waterways dedicated to fishing bankside or from canoe/pirogue, and 20 miles of waterways were motorized boats are allowed. Motorized boats are not allowed in marsh area.
Fishing bankside or from pirogue and canoe (motorized boats not permitted):
Bayou des Familles
Fishing from motorized boat allowed:
Bayou Segnette Waterway
Tarpaper Canal-up to the 'No Motorized Boats' sign
Pipeline Canal-up to the 'No Motorized Boats' sign
Do not fish from boardwalks, trails, or bridges. Twin Canals is the only place in Barataria Preserve where you can fish from a trail.
Leave the plants and animals as you find them. Harassing, collecting, feeding, or releasing any animal (including insects) can cause direct harm or stress for the animal and reduce its chance for survival. Releasing non-native species (bait) into the habitat can harm the habitat for the fish and other animals and plants. Picking plants could remove seeds necessary for the plants to reproduce next year, food sources for wildlife, and flowers for other visitors to enjoy.
Leave no trace. Litter decreases enjoyment for other visitors, pollutes the water, and causes harm to wildlife. Carry a water bottle or canteen while out fishing. If you must bring food and drink containers with you, pack out all your trash (and remember that trash includes unused bait and other items you intend to dispose of). Trashcans are located at all the trailheads, canoe launches, and at the visitor center.
A valid Louisiana fishing license is required to fish in the park although exceptions may apply, and fees vary. Children under 16 years of age do not require a license. Visitors fishing within Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The Barataria Preserve is a freshwater habitat. Although we are above the saltwater line, anglers do catch saltwater fish occasionally. If you're fishing and/or possessing saltwater fish, you must have a Saltwater Fishing License in addition to a Basic Fishing License. Louisiana has many areas where you can catch fresh and saltwater species side by side. Instead of trying to determine exactly where the saltwater line is, the best practice is to purchase the additional Saltwater Fishing License if you’re fishing anywhere in south Louisiana and plan to catch any saltwater species. Please see Louisiana Recreational Fishing Licenses and Permits Webpage for information on licenses.
Know the state size and creel limits. Due to the increasing number of species with size and creel limits, anglers are required to release many of the fish they catch. If handled properly, these fish have a very good chance to live, grow, and provide further opportunities for Louisiana anglers.
Unless otherwise provided for, fishing regulations apply to all finfish found in both fresh and saltwater, and mollusks and crustaceans found in saltwater (shellfish). Other taxa, including amphibians, and freshwater mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and are addressed by NPS regulations governing “wildlife” (36CFR2.2).
These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.
Fishing regulations for Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve follow those set by the State of Louisiana (36CFR7). However, commercial fishing methods allowed under State law are not included within the scope of this authorization.
The following are prohibited, as per National Park Service natural resource protection regulations:
Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.
The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.
The following regulations apply only within Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Within the Barataria Preserve Unit, the Secretary shall permit hunting, fishing (including commercial fishing), and trapping in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws on land, and interests in land and water managed by the Secretary, except that the Secretary may designate zones where and establish periods when no hunting, fishing, or trapping shall be permitted for reasons of public safety. (16 USC 230d)
Fishing is prohibited in any of the following areas of the Barataria Preserve:
Visitor Center and Visitor Center Trail
Bayou Coquille Trail
Marsh Overlook Trail
Ring Levee Trail
Pecan Grove Canoe Launch Trail
From any vehicular bridge
Unless otherwise designated, fishing in a manner authorized under applicable State law is allowed.
A commercial fishing permit issued by the Superintendent is required in addition to any applicable State of Louisiana licenses and permits. A commercial fishing permit is subject to a minimal charge to cover the cost of processing the permit application
Fishing or engaging in related activities, like crabbing or crawfish harvesting is permitted in the Barataria Preserve subject to the following conditions:
All reptile species are protected in the park and may not be harvested, collected, disturbed, or possessed while within the park.
Amphibian species that are authorized by the state of Louisiana to be taken as game may be taken within Barataria Preserve in accordance with state regulations.
Anglers must otherwise comply with all State of Louisiana fishing regulations.
Anglers may only fish from or access fishing areas from the Twin Canals trail and the Kenta Canal Area. All other trails, bridges, and canoe docks are closed to fishing.
The use of a hoop net to capture fish is prohibited within all areas of the Barataria Preserve.
Fishing with an unattended baited line attached to a float (jug line fishing) is permitted within the Barataria Preserve with the following conditions:
The angler clearly marks the float with their name, phone number, and date last set.
Jug lines are checked at least once every 24 hours.
Jug lines are removed when no longer tended.
Trotlines and lines attached to anything other than a float are prohibited.
Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters
The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.
Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.
Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.
Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.
Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.
For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.
Practice good "invasive hygiene." Check your hiking shoes and backpack for land trails; your boat and trailer for waterways to make sure there are no weeds hanging on to your equipment. Don't ever release aquarium contents into parks or nearby waters.
We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.