A man waist deep in water holding a silver fish and his fishing rod

Sport fishing is allowed on any open area of the Refuge in accordance with State and Federal regulations. Waters available for fishing include East Lake, South Lake, Whipping Creek Lake, Sawyer Lake and Swan Lake. Brackish bays/estuaries include Pamlico Sound and Alligator River. Streams include Milltail Creek, Whipping Creek and Swan Creek, approximately 20 miles total, plus approximately 150-200 miles of man-made canals along roads.

Refuge boat-launching facilities for small boats exist at South Lake, Buffalo City and Milltail Creek. Additional boat launching facilities are provided on adjacent areas by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Fishing access is available year-round.

Available species in freshwater include largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, redear sunfish, catfish and chain pickerel. Predominant brackish/saltwater species are bluefish, striped bass, spotted sea trout, flounder, red drum, striped bass, spot and croaker.

Only the use of pole and line, rod and reel, or cast net is permitted. All fishing tackle must be attended at all times. The refuge is open sunrise to sunset; fishing is allowed during daylight hours only. 

Fishing opportunities for individuals with disabilities are available on the refuge. There is a universally-accessible fishing platform at the start of the Creef Cut Wildlife Trail. Persons with disabilities may contact the Refuge office prior to their arrival if special arrangements are needed. 

Laws, rules, and regulations