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US Magnet Fishing Laws- Is It Legal?

A photo depicting the US magnet fishing laws

Andy Baines

Chief Magnet Fisher And Writer Around Here.

I have been a keen magnet fishing enthusiast for the best part of 6 years now and have picked up a lot of cool tips and ideas along the way. I share them here on Hobby Magnet Fishing to hopefully help and inspire you to take part in the hobby.

You can read more about my journey on the About Page.

If you are just getting started in this hobby you are more than likely asking the question “Is magnet fishing legal? After all nobody wants to go out to participate in a hobby and end up with the police arresting them!

With this in mind I spent some time researching and making enquiries to find out what the law says. So is magnet fishing illegal in the US?

It is legal to magnet fish in 49 of the 50 US States. The only exception to this is South Carolina where magnet fishing is actually illegal due to a law that does not mention magnet fishing but prohibits the removal of artefacts from South Carolina waterways.

Obviously even if magnet fishing is legal in the State that you live you will still need to gain permission if you are planning to magnet fish on private property.

Below I have created a table that goes into further details about the US magnet fishing laws. I have broken it down for each State. Whenever I receive new information about any changes to the law I will make sure to update the table.

Which US StateIs magnet fishing illegal in this State?Do you need permission on private property?Important notes
Alabama NoYes It is legal to magnet fish in Alabama but permission is needed before going on private property.
Alaska NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Alaska but permission is needed before going on private property.
ArizonaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Arizona but permission is needed before going on private property.
Arkansas NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Arkansas but permission is needed before going on private property.
CaliforniaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in California but permission is needed before going on private property.
Colorado NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Colorado but permission is needed before going on private property.
ConnecticutNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Connecticut but permission is needed before going on private property.
DelawareNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Delaware but permission is needed before going on private property.
FloridaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Florida but permission is needed before going on private property.
GeorgiaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Georgia but permission is needed before going on private property.
HawaiiNo YesIt is legal to magnet fish in Hawaii but permission is needed before going on private property.
IdahoNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Idaho but permission is needed before going on private property.
Illinois NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Illinois but permission is needed before going on private property.
Indiana NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Indiana but permission is needed before going on private property.
IowaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Iowa but permission is needed before going on private property.
KansasNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Kansas but permission is needed before going on private property.
KentuckyNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Kentucky but permission is needed before going on private property.
LouisianaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Louisiana but permission is needed before going on private property.
MaineNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Maine but permission is needed before going on private property.
Maryland NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Maryland but permission is needed before going on private property.
MassachusettsNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Massachusetts but permission is needed before going on private property.
MichiganNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Michigan but permission is needed before going on private property.
Minnesota NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Minnesota but permission is needed before going on private property.
MississippiNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Mississippi but permission is needed before going on private property.
MissouriNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Missouri but permission is needed before going on private property.
MontanaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Montana but permission is needed before going on private property.
NebraskaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Nebraska but permission is needed before going on private property.
Nevada NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Nevada but permission is needed before going on private property.
New Hampshire NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in New Hampshire but permission is needed before going on private property.
New Jersey NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in New Jersey but permission is needed before going on private property.
New MexicoNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in New Mexico but permission is needed before going on private property.
New York NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in New York but permission is needed before going on private property.
North Carolina NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in North Carolina but permission is needed before going on private property.
North DakotaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in North Dakota but permission is needed before going on private property.
Ohio NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Ohio but permission is needed before going on private property.
OklahomaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Oklahoma but permission is needed before going on private property.
OregonNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Oregon but permission is needed before going on private property.
PennsylvaniaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Pennsylvania but permission is needed before going on private property.
Rhodes IslandNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Rhodes Island but permission is needed before going on private property.
South Carolina YesN/AMagnet fishing in South Carolina is illegal, please see below for more information.
South Dakota NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in South Dakota but permission is needed before going on private property.
Tennessee NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Tennessee but permission is needed before going on private property.
TexasNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Texas but permission is needed before going on private property.
UtahNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Utah but permission is needed before going on private property.
VermontNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Vermont but permission is needed before going on private property.
VirginiaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Virginia but permission is needed before going on private property.
WashingtonNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Washington but permission is needed before going on private property.
West VirginiaNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in West Virginia but permission is needed before going on private property.
WisconsinNoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Wisconsin but permission is needed before going on private property.
Wyoming NoYesIt is legal to magnet fish in Wyoming but permission is needed before going on private property.

Why is it illegal to magnet fish in South Carolina?

If you live in South Carolina you will have noticed that I have said it is illegal to magnet fish in your state. From the research that I have done I can see that the reason it is illegal to magnet fish in South Carolina is because:

The South Carolina Underwater Antiquities Act of 1991 states that no one can recover items that are partially or fully covered by sediment owned by South Carolina State on State waterways by mechanical means. Because you cannot see if the item is covered in sediment or not it actually makes it illegal to remove it by use of a magnet.

There is a hobby license that covers removing submerged artefacts however this is by non mechanical means only meaning not by fishing magnets. The license is actually aimed at the scuba diving community.

Breaking the law and using a magnet to retrieve items in South Carolina State owned waterways is punishable by heavy fines.

In conclusion.

Magnet fishing is legal in nearly all of the states in the US with the exception of South Carolina. However whenever you plan to magnet fish in a state that it is legal you will need to seek permission from the Land owner.

I hope you have had your questions answered by this post, please feel free to have a read of my complete magnet fishing guide next it will teach you the hobby in depth.

***The above table and text was built up using information from my own research and I will not/cannot be held responsible for any indescrepencies. Please seek authorisation from the relevant authorities before venturing out.

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