National Wildlife Refuge System
Tips for the Traveler

State and Federal Regulations

  • Get your fishing license before you go. A national wildlife refuge may be several miles from a license outlet.
  • State fishing regulations apply to fishing on all wildlife refuges; some states have additional regulations. Please check with your destination state.
  • All boaters must comply with U.S. Coast Guard boating regulations when operating a boat in marine waters, coastal bays and estuaries and inland navigable waterways. Boaters in inland waters must comply with state boating regulations.

Weather and Other Conditions

  • Travelers should check local weather and travel conditions. Flooding and dangerous fog are among some of the weather-related conditions that travelers may encounter on national wildlife refuges. Be prepared to stay longer than anticipated in case of sudden weather changes. That is especially true when visiting wildlife refuges in remote areas.
  • When traveling, especially to remote locations, please take the appropriate safety precautions such as first aid kits, extra food and water. Share your travel plans with someone who can check your return.
  • Your trip to a wildlife refuge will be more enjoyable if you are ready to meet the elements. Sunscreen, insect repellent and rain gear, among other things, can make your trip more comfortable.
  • Be prepared for potentially harmful plants or animals or dangerous environmental conditions. For instance, bears are present on most wildlife refuges in Alaska. Poisonous snakes can be seen on many refuges. Hypothermia can pose a threat on some wildlife refuges.

Other Tips

  • Some coastal wildlife refuges provide access to adjacent fishing waters, including for example, the waters surrounding wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys.
  • Access to fishing on coastal wildlife refuges may be affected by daily tidal fluctuations. For personal safety, check tidal information before you go.
  • When anglers are required to practice catch and release, please handle fish carefully and release them gently so they are more likely to survive.


  • If you have questions, call the wildlife refuge. You can ask about services and fishing conditions as well as accommodations or campgrounds, food sources, service stations and medical facilities. Information is also available on individual wildlife refuge's Websites.

Consumption Advisories

Fish consumption may carry health hazards. The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid eating some types of fish. Anglers should check state and local advisories, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency at

Last updated: October 7, 2008
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