A recreational fishing license is a requirement for anglers in every state. While sport fishing license requirements differ by state, they are all based on protecting endangered species, environments and anglers. Thus, anglers must obtain a recreational fishing license if they are fishing for sport in the United States. Additionally, they should be familiar with specific types of licenses such as recreational saltwater licenses or licenses for freshwater areas.

Because a game and fish fishing license enables anglers to fish in public and some private waters in each U.S. state, they must understand how to acquire and maintain their licenses. For instance, a temporary fishing license can cost from a few dollars to $100. However, annual and lifetime licenses are also issues in several states. To learn more about a license’s eligibility requirements, types and costs, read the sections below.

Who needs a fishing license?

All anglers partaking in fishing activities including, but not limited to, casting, net and spearfishing techniques require a recreational or commercial fishing license in order to catch fish legally. However, each state has different age limits for recreational fishing licenses, and certain younger anglers may need to be accompanied by a licensed angler. For instance, in Florida and in California, children younger than 16 years of age are exempt from having to obtain a fishing license.

What are the requirements to get a fishing license?

Anglers who wish to obtain a saltwater or freshwater fishing license must meet age, residency and educational requirements that vary according to each state. Additionally, fishing enthusiasts must be able to afford the recreational or commercial fishing price to be issued a license. Below are a few examples regarding license requirements in different states:

  • Residents must present their driver’s licenses upon application as a form of identification and proof of residency. This is the case in several states, including New York.
  • Residents older than 65 years of age may be required to purchase a lifetime license, such as in the case of Mississippi.

What are the types of fishing licenses?

The types of recreational fishing licenses available to eligible anglers may feature different validity periods and costs. Common types of sport fishing licenses are as follows:

  • Annual resident or non-resident freshwater fishing license – An annual freshwater fishing license allows anglers to fish in habitats such as streams, lakes, swamps and rivers for one year.
  • Annual resident or non-resident saltwater fishing license – An annual saltwater fishing license allows anglers to fish in environments such as open oceans, seashores, shallow seas, estuaries, ocean depths and coral reefs for one year.
  • Lifetime license – A lifetime license allows anglers to fish within states lines for the rest of their lives. In states such as Mississippi, anglers older than 65 years of age are required to obtain a lifetime license.
  • Temporary or short-term license – In Florida, three-day and seven-day licenses are offered to anglers. These fishing licenses are particularly suitable for nonresidents.
  • Commercial fishing permits – A commercial fishing license is issued to anglers and fisheries who intend on catching fish and exchanging their catches for monetary or non-monetary amounts.
  • Combination game and fish licenses – For fishermen who are also interested in hunting, states such as Texas offer combination licenses that give individuals authorization to hunt and fish within the state.

What types of fish can I catch with a fishing license?

The main purpose of a commercial or recreational fishing license is to allow anglers to catch fish legally. Thus, fish that can be caught with fishing licenses may include various freshwater and saltwater species such as trout, salmon and bass. However, sport and commercial fishing licenses often restrict anglers to catching a limited number of fish that varies depending on the species. For instance, only 20 yellow perch can be caught per day in Minnesota.

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags?

While a sport fishing license allows fishing enthusiasts to catch most types of fish, additional documents must be obtained by anglers in order to catch certain species. For example, threatened or endangered species such as sharks require anglers and fisheries to acquire permits or tags in addition to a basic commercial or recreational fishing license.

How long is a fishing license valid for?

The validity periods for a recreational fishing license vary depending on the type of fishing license. For example, most lifetime game fishing licenses do not expire once purchased. On the other hand, temporary licenses are only valid for the dates printed on the license, which may be a period of days, weeks or months. When purchasing a fishing license, anglers must ask about the validity periods of the licenses and make sure that they will be fully licensed throughout the duration of their fishing trips.

How much does a fishing license cost?

The periods for which commercial or recreational fishing licenses will last typically affect their cost. Be mindful of the following saltwater and freshwater fishing license cost throughout different states:

  • A temporary fishing license in New York can cost between $5 and $12 for residents, and between $10 and $28 for nonresidents.
  • An annual fishing license for residents in Florida costs $17. For nonresidents, it costs $47.
  • A combination hunting and fishing license in Texas costs $60.
  • A commercial fishing license in California costs $141.11 for residents and $417.75 for nonresidents.

Are fishing license discounts available?

Most states offer discounts on a saltwater and freshwater fishing permit for seniors, children or military servicemembers. For instance, active duty members of the Armed Forces are eligible to obtain a combination hunting and fishing license in Nevada for $15. However, several states only issue recreational or commercial fishing license discounts to state residents.

Where can I get a fishing license?

Anglers can get commercial and recreational fishing licenses from local fishing license offices. Additionally, most states provide online ordering options for various types of recreational and commercial fishing permits and licenses.

How can I replace my fishing license?

Replacing a recreational fishing license involves completing an application form and paying a nominal fee. For instance, in California, the cost of a duplicate sport fishing license is $10.80. In general, license replacement services are offered at various licensing locations. Thus, anglers do not have to visit the same office where they originally obtained their licenses in order to obtain a replacement.