A West Virginia recreational fishing license allows you to fish in state waters for certain types of game fish, such as catfish and bass. The WV game fishing license is issued by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) and is required for most residents and nonresidents who want go fishing within state borders. The recreational fishing license is designed to ensure that only responsible anglers are taking and attempting to take fish in West Virginia rivers and lakes.

You will need a freshwater fishing license in order to begin fishing. Fishing licenses in WV are available at different price points, depending on your residency status and age. Learn more about fishing licenses in West Virginia in the sections below.

Who needs a fishing license in West Virginia?

A sport fishing license is required for anyone between age 15 and 65 (and some older than 65) who wants to fish in WV. However, you do not need a freshwater fishing license if you are a resident and any of the following applies to you:

  • You turned 65 before January 1, 2012.
  • You are younger than 15 years old.
  • You are totally blind.
  • You are on military leave.
  • You fish in a body of water on land that you own, and it is the proper season.
  • You are developmentally disabled.

West Virginia Fishing License Requirements

The main freshwater fishing permit requirement is proof of residency (if you are purchasing the resident license). In order to obtain a resident freshwater fishing license, you must have lived in West Virginia for at least 30 days immediately before applying for a license. Full-time students in the state are also considered residents.

Types of Fishing Licenses in West Virginia

The WV recreational fishing license comes in many varieties. You can purchase a game and fish fishing license in the following types:

Resident

  • Recreational fishing license
  • Senior hunting/fishing/trapping license (age 65+)
  • Sportsman license [hunting/fishing/trapping] (age 18-64)
  • Junior sportsman license (age 15-17)
  • Conservation stamp – Must be purchased along with some licenses

Nonresident

  • Recreational fishing license
  • Junior sportsman license (age 8-17)
  • Conservation stamp – Must be purchased by all license holders

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

With a West Virginia game fishing license, you can catch game fish such as the following:

  • Bluegill
  • Black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted)
  • Rock bass
  • Striped bass
  • White bass
  • Catfish
  • Chain pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern pike
  • Trout (requires special license)
  • Walleye
  • Sauger
  • Sunfish

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

You need a special fishing license in addition to your freshwater license in order to catch trout in West Virginia. The Trout Fishing Stamp can be purchased by both residents and nonresidents, and it is also available for lifetime purchase.

Nonresidents also need a National Forest fishing license to fish in national forests.

How long is a fishing license valid in West Virginia?

In general, the WV sport fishing license lasts for the remainder of the current calendar year and must be bought each subsequent year. However, you can also buy a freshwater fishing permit for five days or a lifetime (residents) or for a single day (nonresidents).

How much does a West Virginia fishing license cost?

The WV freshwater fishing license costs are as follows:

Resident

  • Recreational fishing license – $8 (five days); $19 (annual); $552 (lifetime)
  • Senior hunting/fishing/trapping license (age 65+) – $25 (lifetime)
  • Sportsman license [hunting/fishing/trapping] (age 18-64) – $35 (annual)
  • Lifetime combination (hunting/fishing/trapping) – $805 (age two to 64); $402.50 (younger than two years)
  • Junior sportsman license (age 15-17) – $16 (annual)
  • Trout Fishing Stamp – $10
  • Conservation stamp – $5

Nonresident

  • Recreational fishing license – $3 (one day); $37 (annual)
  • Junior sportsman license (age 8-17) – $16
  • Trout Fishing Stamp – $16
  • Conservation stamp – $13
  • National forest license – $2

Related Guides

Are fishing license discounts available in West Virginia?

Freshwater fishing license discounts are available for seniors and youths. Free licenses are available to people with life-threatening conditions who are age 20 or younger.

Where can I get a fishing license in West Virginia?

You can get a game fishing license in one of the following ways:

  • At a retail license agent in WV
  • Online
  • By calling the Hunting and Fishing License Unit

How can I replace my West Virginia fishing license?

Replacing your WV fishing license is done differently depending on how you bought it:

  • If you purchased from an agent, you will need to revisit that same agent. You cannot reprint your license online. The agent will look up your records and give you a form to take to the West Virginia Law Enforcement District Office, which will issue the duplicate license.
  • If you purchased it online, you can reprint it online.
  • To get a duplicate application by mail, or call to order by phone.