In a previous article, we outlined five popular US hunting “laws” that were actually myths. A same, if not greater, number of rumors persist for fishing, but this time we’re going to cover the laws that actually exist. If you’ve ever tried reading through your state’s game fish regulations—such as Utah’s for example—you’ll quickly find yourself confronted with pages upon pages of rules on what you can use for bait, how many lines you can use, what kind of fish you can catch, and a mountain of other specifications, which change depending on which lake or river you are fishing in. However, if you simply skim through the text, you’ll miss some of the more interesting ones.

Thankfully, we saved a few of them for this list.

1. You can’t fish in your pajamas in Chicago

Image from vicki watkins on the Flickr Creative Commons.
Image from vicki watkins on the Flickr Creative Commons.

Chicago boasts one of the fastest-growing scenes in urban fishing, but the city holds an absurd fashion law: no pajamas. Or at least it did as far back as 1964 when the Chicago Tribune first reported on it. Does the DNR still keep an eye out for stealthy, pajama-wearing anglers who skirt the law and live on the edge? We’re not sure, but we haven’t heard about it.

2. You can’t use corn for bait in Utah

Image is public domain.
Image released in the public domain.

Some states actually do allow for corn to be used in chumming, although it is generally not advised and in some cases, anglers could even be fined for littering. Utah however, has a firm “no corn or hominy” rule in its game fish regulations.

3. You can’t use your mouth to catch fish in Pennsylvania

Image from Theete on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Theete on the Wikimedia Commons.

Pennsylvania regulations forbid the use of any body part to catch fish, but that rule is often misinterpreted as “any body part except for your mouth.” We’re not sure how that miscommunication happened, but officers with the Fish and Boat Commission confirm that it is illegal to use your mouth as well. In fact, doing so many earn you a $100 fine.

4. It is illegal to bring fishing tackle to cemeteries in Muncie, Indiana

Image from Ildar Sagdejev on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Ildar Sagdejev on the Wikimedia Commons.

According to Wacky Laws, Weird Decisions, & Strange Statutes, it is forbidden to bring any fishing gear to a cemetery located in Muncie, a town of about 70,000 people. We’re not sure why this is, but it may have come about after a local cemetery discovered that a pond on its property attracted someone other than mourners.

5. It is illegal to fish from horseback in Washington, DC (as well as other places)

Image from Gertjan R. on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Gertjan R. on the Wikimedia Commons.

Fly fishing on horseback is great exercise for both the angler and equestrian, just as long as they don’t do it near the nation’s capital.

6. It is illegal to get fish drunk in Ohio

Image from k.ivoutin on the Flickr Creative Commons.
Image from k.ivoutin on the Flickr Creative Commons.

You would think that this law would be a no-brainer, but according to WKYC, Ohio law specifically forbids treating fish to a round of beers.

7. In the state of Washington, you can’t harvest a fish by throwing rocks at it

Image from Killy Ridols on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Killy Ridols on the Wikimedia Commons.

If you intend on skipping rocks in Washington State, you better hope that an errant throw doesn’t accidentally net you some fish.

8. It is illegal to lasso fish in Tennessee

Image from Véronique PAGNIER on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Véronique PAGNIER on the Wikimedia Commons.

We’re not entirely certain how one would go about lassoing a fish, but WBIR reports that the technique is illegal in Tennessee.

9. You can’t intentionally frighten fish in New York State

Image from Ryan Somma on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Ryan Somma on the Wikimedia Commons.

New York law stipulates that anglers can’t intentionally and overtly scare fish with their actions, such as jumping into the water next to them. In most states, this is generally just covered under wildlife harassment laws, as expected.

What are some that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Stormin’ Normin’

    Here in Texas, I’m lobbying to make it illegal to release back into public waters any fish displaying lib- / socialist-friendly bumper stickers anywhere on its body. Such fish MUST be removed from the gene pool a.s.a.p. Am I right? Of course—it’s only sensible!

    Thus far, legislators do not seem to be rallying behind the wisdom of my proposal, although I have garnered more than a few “amens”, as well as one suspicious-looking invitation from some guy calling himself “#prez_nine_iron”: He invited me to zip on
    over to DC so that he could show me “. . . how we do things downtown . . .”

    I respectfully declined (citing an urgent need to write my Congressman again) and resumed my search for an honest politician—or a good fish taco recipe—whichever appears first . . .

    • Former Chef

      In a shallow pan simmer some celery, onion, carrots in enough water to keep the bottom covered. If you’d like add some hot peppers of your choice. Place fillets on top and sprinkle on some fresh cilantro, Tony Chachere’s(sp?), and lime juice, cover and simmer(not boil) until flaky. Then I load a corn taco shell into a flour tortilla and dress as desired. I use diced tomato, shredded lettuce, jack cheese(not cheddar), taco sauce(not salsa), and jalapeños(habanero if desired). Some type of black beans and rice as a side.

      Did I win?

      • EarnestTBass

        I’ll try it, it sounds good!

    • Don’t be so stupid, and stop believing all the lies put out by the right.

  • Fish Biologist Brad

    It is legal and there is a season to shoot fish with rifles in Vermont. It’s true, look it up in the online state fishing regs. ☺ we are an odd state.