A recreational fishing license in Tennessee allows you to catch and take game species of fish. This sport fishing license is required if you want to take or even attempt to take fish from Tennessee waters, no matter what method you are using to do so. A valid freshwater fishing license permits you to legally enjoy fishing in the state, although there are some exceptions to the licensing requirement.

Tennessee’s recreational fishing license, along with all other hunting/fishing licenses, is available for purchase beginning February 18 of each year. If you purchase a game fishing license, it will be valid until the last day of February the next year (if it is an annual license). Fishing licenses in TN are issued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), which relies on revenue from hunting and fishing licenses to operate.

Who needs a fishing license in Tennessee?

A Tennessee freshwater fishing license is required for anyone over 13 to take fish or help someone else to take fish in the state. However, you do not need a recreational fishing license in the following cases:

  • If you are younger than 13 years old.
  • If you own farmland or your spouse or parent owns farmland (you must fish on that land only).
  • You may also fish on the land if you are renting or caring for it.
  • If you are on military leave and have a copy of your orders.
  • If you fish during Free Fishing Day or Free Fishing Week, a day and week each year when all children 15 or younger can fish without purchasing a license.
  • If you were born before March 1, 1926.

Tennessee Fishing License Requirements

To get a sport fishing license in Tennessee, you need to provide your Social Security Number. If you want a resident freshwater fishing license, you need to prove your residency with a valid TN driver’s license. Alternatively, you can provide a combination of two of the following:

      • A current TN voter registration card
      • A vehicle registration or title document issued in TN
      • A Form I-94 from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service
      • A receipt from paying TN real estate taxes in the past year
      • Your current TN rental or mortgage contract

Freshwater fishing permit applicants must have lived in Tennessee for at least 90 days immediately before applying.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Tennessee

There are many types of recreational fishing licenses available in Tennessee. To get a recreational freshwater fishing license in TN, you need to decide between the following options:

Resident

      • Hunting & fishing combo license
      • Junior hunt, fish and trap license (ages 13-15)
      • County of residence license (allows you to fish in your own county)
      • Regular fishing license (all species but trout)
      • Trout license
      • All species game fishing license
      • Sportsman license (allows you to hunt, fish and trap without any other permits)
      • Senior Hunt/Fish/Trap license (must also buy special season permits)
      • Senior Sportsman license (no other permits needed)

Nonresident

      • Junior hunt/fish license
      • Regular fishing license (no trout)
      • Regular fishing license (all species)

What types of fish can I catch with fishing licenses in Tennessee?

A TN freshwater fishing license permits you to fish for all game fish in the state except for trout. You will need an All-Species game fishing license or a separate trout license to fish for trout in TN.

A game fishing license does not permit you to catch all types of fish. Taking the following types of fish in TN is banned:

      • Silver carp
      • Bighead carp
      • Black carp
      • Blueback herring
      • Rudd
      • Marbled crayfish (Marmorkreb)
      • New Zealand mud snail
      • Round goby
      • Ruffe
      • Snakeheads
      • Swamp eels
      • Zebra mussel

 

 

With a recreational fishing license, you may also catch turtles. However, they can only be common snapping turtles.

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Tennessee?

Not all freshwater fishing permits allow you to fish for trout. You will need a separate trout fishing license (022 license), an all-species license or a sportsman license to fish for trout in TN.

Special recreational fishing permits are required (in addition to appropriate fishing licenses) to fish in Gatlinburg, Tellico River, Citico Creek and Green Cove Pond.

How long is a fishing license valid in Tennessee?

A resident game fishing license comes with the following longevity options:

      • One day
      • Annual
      • Lifetime (sportsman licenses)

A non-resident freshwater fishing license comes with these longevity options:

      • One day
      • Three days
      • 10 days
      • Annual

How much does a Tennessee fishing license cost?

“How much is a sport fishing license?” is an important question to ask before purchasing a license. Each freshwater fishing license cost is different, but you can find a breakdown of the pricing below:

Resident

      • 1-day fishing
        • $6.50
        • $11.50all species
      • County of residence -$11
      • Hunting/Fishing combo -$34
      • Junior Hunting, Fishing & Trapping -$10
      • Annual Trout -$22
      • Sportsman -$166
      • Lifetime Sportsman
        • $200 younger than three years old
        • $659 for ages three to six
        • $988 for ages seven to 12
        • $1,976 for ages13-50
        • $1,153 for ages 51-64
        • $329 for ages 65+
      • Annual Senior Hunting, Fishing and Trapping
        • $5
        • $50 permanent
      • Annual senior sportsman ($50)

Non-resident

      • Junior Hunting & Fishing -$11
      • No trout
        • $20.50 for 3 days
        • $30.50 for 10 days
        • $50 annual
      • All species
        • $40.50 for 3 days
        • $61.50 for 10 days
        • $99 annual

Related Guides

Are fishing license discounts available in Tennessee?

Recreational fishing license discounts are available to seniors ages 65 and older, children between the ages of 13 and 15 and applicants with disabilities. Disabilities include blindness, being confined to a wheelchair, veterans who are disabled or being intellectually handicapped.

Where can I get a fishing license in Tennessee?

You can buy a sport fishing license from most TN county clerks, sporting goods and hardware stores and boat docks. Fishing licenses (other than lifetime and specialty discounted licenses) are also available from any TWRA office or online.

How can I replace my Tennessee fishing license?

You can replace your Tennessee game fishing license for free with the TWRA by logging into your account online, or you can pay for a replacement for $7 at a licensing agent.