Before you can get started fishing, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper fishing license for your state. Each state has its own unique regulations for fishing licenses and might offer single day, annual, or even lifetime licenses.
To get your fishing license online, we recommend using the helpful resources from Take Me Fishing™ to check your state’s requirements and start the application process.
When is a Fishing License Required?
In most cases, no matter which state you’re in, you’re going to be required to purchase a fishing license if you want to get out on the water and fish. The question is - which type of fishing license is right for you? That depends most significantly on where and how you plan to fish.
A freshwater fishing license is required for anglers wishing to fish in bodies of freshwater, including lakes, rivers, and streams. This license is exclusive to freshwater and does not grant the licensee permission to do ocean fishing or fish in other bodies of saltwater.
A freshwater fishing license is exactly the opposite of a saltwater fishing license, granting the licensee the right to fish in the ocean and other saltwater bodies but not in freshwater lakes and streams.
Catch and Release Fishing
Although you won’t be keeping what you catch, most states still require a fishing license for catch and release fishing. The fee paid for your license covers the use and upkeep of the waterways you’ll be fishing in rather than the fish you might catch.
Fishing on Private Property
State wildlife authorities typically do not police fishing that is done on private property. However, it’s still important to be a good steward of the land and water you’ll be fishing, do so safely, follow rules set forth by the property, and in most cases pay a fee to the owner for the use of their property.
Special Circumstances and Exceptions
Not only will fishing license requirements vary from state to state, there will likely be additional state-specific exceptions and/or special circumstances that you’ll want to be aware of. Those circumstances might include:
- Special pricing and/or exemptions for children, veterans, and disabled persons
- Additional stamps/cards required for certain fish species (ie. trout)
- Regulations on the kinds of equipment you can fish with
- One-day fishing licenses
- State-wide free fishing days
How to Get a Fishing License
Before you start planning where to fish and what you hope to catch, you’ll need to get your fishing license. The option to purchase a fishing license online is making it quicker and easier than ever to get licensed and ready to head out on the water.
If you’d prefer to purchase your fishing license in person, that can be done through any independent license sales agent that has been authorized by the state. Examples include sporting goods retailers and local bait and tackle shops.
How and When to Renew a Fishing License
Depending on the length of fishing license you decide to purchase you may have to renew the license regularly. In most states you’ll be encouraged to set up an online account when you purchase your initial license to keep up with renewal dates. If this is the case, you can renew your license online in just a few minutes. You also have the option to return to the authorized agent who sold the fishing license to you for renewal.
No matter where you plan to fish or what you hope to catch, we encourage you to get licensed and go fishing as soon as possible!