Lake Mattamuskeet

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Hyde County, North Carolina. Established in 1934, the 50,180-acre Refuge consists of open water, marsh, forest and croplands. The centerpiece of the Refuge is the shallow Lake Mattamuskeet. At 40,100 acres, it is North Carolina’s largest natural lake.

The Refuge’s strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vitally important stopover for wintering waterfowl. Over the past 35 years, up to 80 percent of the Northern Pintail and up to 30 percent of Green-wing Teal that annually migrate along the Flyway utilize Mattamuskeet. In total, the Refuge attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November through February.

About 58,000 visitors use the Refuge annually to hunt, fish, and observe and photograph wildlife.


The minimum length limit for blue crabs is 5-inches carapace width (point-to-point).

Crabs caught on Mattamuskeet NWR are for personal use only and may not be sold.

Prohibited Activities:

  • Airboats, sailboats, jet skis, and wind boards
  • Camping
  • Commercial Use
  • Fires
  • Fireworks
  • Herring dipping
  • Leaving boats on the Refuge overnight
  • Littering – this includes not removing crab lines
  • Off road driving/ATV’s, UTV’s, Four Wheelers, etc.
  • Swimming
  • Taking, removing, disturbing or possessing wildlife and plants
  • Taking/possessing reptiles and amphibians
  • Use of trot lines, set lines, limb lines, or jug lines

Motorized and non-motorized fishing boats, canoes and kayaks are only permitted on the Refuge from March 1 through October 31. The Refuge is closed to all boating the rest of the year.


  • Do not feed the wildlife.
  • Fishermen and crabbers using the Refuge are subject to inspections of licenses, equipment, creel limits, vehicles and contents during compliance checks by refuge and state officers.

The Refuge speed limit is 25 m.p.h. unless otherwise posted.

The Refuge is open during daylight hours.

Please stay at least 50 yards away from osprey nests. This is especially critical during the active nesting season (generally between March 1 and August 1). Osprey nesting success is susceptible to human disturbance. Please report any disturbance or harassment, or other violations you see to Refuge personnel.

General fishing regulations and special regulations are codified in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 32. If you have any questions regarding activities on the Refuge please contact the refuge manager at 252/926 4021. Please be courteous to other refuge visitors.