Is it illegal to fish using a drone

Is It Illegal to Use Drones for Fishing? Our Two-Cents

For a good number of years, drones have practically taken over our lives. They have become a crucial part of many vital sectors of our lives, including agriculture, hunting, fishing, and so on.

This article is going to focus on the legality of drone fishing. We shall try to answer some pertinent questions with regards to this phenomenon.

What does the law require of it? Does it qualify to be called fishing? Is it beneficial in comparison to the traditional fishing methods?

We shall attempt to debunk the mystery surrounding this modern way of fishing! In the end, everything should be more apparent to you.

The Legality of Drones in Fishing

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Although fishing has been in practice since time immemorial, drone fishing is relatively new. In the old days, fishing involved sitting and waiting for long periods before you could make your first catch.

However, with technological advancements, it has become too easy, and your chances of success have risen significantly.

This phenomenon came in so fast that the lawmakers have been caught unawares. While some states have drafted regulations regarding drone fishing, others have been caught completely flat-footed and do not know where to start.

In such a case, they rely on the general federal regulations such as the prohibition against flying over federal buildings or people, a weight limit of 55lbs, a maximum height of 400ft, among others.


These regulations only consider drones to be aircraft. This means that the underwater drones are left out of the rules and are therefore ungoverned.

About Drone Fishing

When it comes to the actual fishing, all you need to do is use some tips to be successful (see some detailed tips here). For instance, you should know that a bigger drone has a higher success rate in comparison to a smaller drone.

In case you own a smaller drone, you can always enhance its performance by attaching a camera or GPS so that you can scout for the potentially productive areas in the waters. Then, you can come back later and fish the old-fashioned way with a higher success rate in the horizon.

Things to Keep in Mind

Before embarking on a drone fishing trip, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to ensure your fishing is as smooth as possible.

Know the Area You Intend to Fly Over

As per federal regulations, there are several areas which are considered no-fly zones. They include National Parks, Federal buildings, Private property, among others.

Ensure you check with the local authorities to be on the safe side. Also, you can check the FAA website for the No Drone Zone Toolkit.

Check the Weather

No matter how powerful or advanced your drone is, the weather is a very crucial factor to your successful expedition. Torrential rain and strong winds are sure to blow the drone off-course, and this would ultimately have a negative impact on your trip.

So, check the weather forecast so that you do not have to pull your device off the neighbor’s tree.

The Population of your intended coverage area

It is wise to avoid flying over neighborhoods as you are likely to interfere with the privacy of the locals and end up annoying them.

Have a Pre-Flight Checklist

Just like any other pilot, it is wise that you have a list that ensures you do not leave out any vital element necessary for your trip. The most essential item is fully charged batteries so that the drone does not power out in the middle of the lake.

Also Read: How to Fish Without A License in California

The Ethical Aspects of Drone Fishing

Since drone fishing is highly efficient, there are high chances of over-exploitation of the endangered species. We should, therefore, learn to draw a line so that we do not harvest numbers that would be detrimental to the marine life.

Note That

Not all aspects of the drone technology are bad. For instance, the marine scientists use drones to research the aquatic ecosystems. All this information should be crucial in helping the human race to avoid destroying the marine ecosystem.

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In Conclusion

By now, we hope that you have found the answer to the question “Is it illegal to use drones for fishing.” A quick rejoinder – drone fishing is regulated or outlawed in some states while other states rely on the general federal regulations to govern the use of drones.

We also hope you have learnt new steps on how you can make your fishing trip a success without negatively impacting on the marine ecosystem. Ensure you use the drone technology to improve the aquatic life rather than destroy it.

Erick Thompson

Hi, I'm a fishing & kayaking enthusiast who enjoys sharing tips and tidbits with newbies, intermediates, and experienced anglers alike.

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