Can you Magnet Fish Anywhere? Laws and Regulations, License – USA And The World


For the most part, you are free to magnet fish anywhere. The only problem is when you start trespassing. If you attempt to throw your magnet into somebody else’s pond, you will be outside of your rights.

However, magnet fishing in public areas is absolutely legal. The only state that has put a ban on magnet fishing is South Carolina at the time of writing this article.

Can you Magnet Fish Anywhere Laws and Regulations by State
Can you Magnet Fish Anywhere? Laws and Regulations by State

Magnet Fishing Laws – Table of all 50 US States

The following is a table of all 50 states and whether or not it is legal to magnet fish. I will do my best to keep it updated, but always double-check if you are uncertain.

It is now illegal to magnet fish in South Carolina.
Laws and Regulations for Magnet Fishing in all 50 US States

Can you Magnet Fish in State Parks ?

State parks are established by a US state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational potential. These are public lands. Hence it is legal to magnet fish in any state park in USA except in the state of South Carolina.

Magnet Fishing Laws and Licensing Requirements – Table of Countries Around The World

Why is magnet fishing illegal in South Carolina?

Magnet fishing has become a great hobby for lots of people all over the US. And while you can enjoy magnet fishing in most states, there are some where magnet fishing is not allowed at all. One of the states where that happens is South Carolina. There are specific reasons behind that, as you will notice below. Yet it’s still a restriction baffling a lot of people.

Why is South Carolina restricting any magnet fishing?

According to the South Carolina Underwater Antiquities Act of 1991, magnet fishing is not allowed as the means to protect underwater artifacts. These artifacts can only be collected if they are resting on bottom sediments. If you remove or disturb them or if they are partially buried, that becomes a problem. You can’t deploy a tethered magnet because you don’t know if the item in question is partially buried, fully buried and so on.

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Does South Carolina issue any licenses for magnet fishing?

Unfortunately, that’s now the case. The SCIAA is not issuing any hobby licenses for magnet fishing. They only issue a license for recreational scuba hunting, but even that requires a lot of training until you eventually receive a license.

So, as you can see, South Carolina has a strict policy against magnet fishing. It’s definitely a problem, but you do want to address that as much as you can, otherwise you can encounter plenty of issues if you just attempt magnet fishing within the state. It’s imperative to read all the local regulations to prevent any problems.

Why is magnet fishing illegal in United Kingdom?

It’s always imperative to learn the local regulations when it comes to magnet fishing, so you know 100% if you are allowed to perform this hobby anywhere. With that in mind, there are plenty of countries and US states that just don’t allow magnet fishing. In fact, it’s downright illegal to perform such an action. What about the United Kingdom, can you go there and attempt any magnet fishing? Let’s find out.

Does the United Kingdom allow magnet fishing?

According to the Canal & River Trust, you will notice that magnet fishing is not allowed to do such a thing. No person can remove any type of coal or other materials from canals. That can become an issue if you are serious about magnet fishing in the United Kingdom and really want to perform this hobby. Unfortunately, the governmental regulations are clear, and you can’t do this in public waters.

Is there a way to perform magnet fishing in the United Kingdom?

Yes, but it’s very strict. You are only allowed to do that in private waters, and even then you must have an authorization. Otherwise you will not be able to do any magnet fishing. That can be a very daunting proposition, but in the end it’s clear that you can get some good results, as long as it’s done privately. The fact that you need an authorization just adds yet another wrench into the entire process. However, this is the only way you can enjoy this hobby in the United Kingdom!

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Do I need a license to magnet fish?

You do not need any sort of license to go magnet fishing as you would for regular fishing. If it’s public property and your state has not regulated the sport then you are free to do so. However, if it’s private property you must ask for permission before tossing in your magnet.

Laws for Rare Finds

Wreck and Salvage Laws

This probably will never happen but if it does, make sure you check your stats wreck and salvage laws. You may be required to report this or turn in any items found at a wreckage site.

What to do if you Find a Weapon

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to magnet fishing is, what do I do if I find a weapon? It’s true that this is pretty rare, but if you do happen to stumble upon a knife or a gun, don’t freak out. It’s not a big deal, and the steps to take are simple.

Finding knives

For knives, it’s pretty simple. Most states allow you to own any type of knife, however, some are more strict. For example, Michigan does not allow spring-loaded knives. It is important to look up your state laws just to make sure your okay.

Most hunting knives should be fine. If it’s just a standard utility knife feel free to take it home with you. However, if you ever have any doubt just leave it alone.

Also, please make sure to wear gloves while magnet fishing, especially with the risk of knives or other sharp objects being retrieved from the water.

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Finding guns

This is a very serious matter. If you find a gun you are going to want to contact the police. The gun could be used in a crime and may help solve a case. On top of that, all guns have serial numbers. This is to know who the gun belongs to. It is illegal to own a gun that is not issued to you, so trying to take this home could lead to some problems down the line.

This situation is pretty rare, and likely won’t happen to you. However, if it does just take it seriously and you will be fine.

When in doubt

If you find a weapon and you are unsure whether it’s okay to have or not, the safest thing to do is just throw it away. Either that or don’t even touch it. Just knock it off the magnet and allow it to return where it came from.


As you can see, you are pretty much free to magnet fish anywhere you want with the main concern making sure to stay off private property (obviously). The only state that has banned magnet fishing is South Carolina. I’m not sure why. I will have to dig more into that later.

While you are free to magnet fish in most places, in 49 states, it’s important to remember you aren’t free to keep everything you find. Certain items have restrictions, such as weapons and wreckage. Make sure to check your state’s laws regarding these items before you take them home with you.


  • Man arrested for magnet fishing in Krasnystaw, Poland
  • General Canal Bye Law of 1965, UK and Wales
  • Scotland Monument Consent Process
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>