Fishing License: How to Get Yours in All 50 States

Fishing – it’s one of the most popular outdoor hobbies across the entire United States. Not to mention, something that you can probably still do while maintaining social distancing. Especially fishing from your Kayak, off the shore of a nearly deserted lake… sound great? To do it, you need a fishing license.

Most states allow purchasing permits or licenses for fishing online, and many allow you to print your own. This means you can get a license even if physical locations selling them are shut down. Please check locally to see if fishing is still open in the state you want to fish in.

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People from all age groups and walks of life frequent the water every year in search of that big catch. Not to mention many people now living mobile lifestyles, in RVs, tiny homes, and vans who live closer to nature, and may enjoy fishing as a hobby or as a means of bringing food in.

But, there are a lot of big questions a person has when it comes to licensing, primarily if they travel to fish casually or competitively. And, let’s be honest, many state websites are confusing.

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The big question is this can a person get a fishing license in all 50 states? The answer is no, people can’t, and we’ll explain why below.

Today we’ll explore that, so casual fishermen and passionate regulars alike learn how to throw their line out in any of the U.S.’s 50 states. Whether you are traveling or looking for your local state’s information because the state website is confusing, we have the info we need.

Is There Such a Thing as a National Fishing License?

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When it comes to licensing, simplicity is often preferred. Think about how it pertains to driver’s licenses – a person can take a test in any state and be licensed, thereby ensuring they don’t have to take a different test in a new state every time they want to drive in it.

Is the same thing true for fishing licenses? Unfortunately, no – the reason transportation is regulated in a manner that is homogeneous (relatively) across state lines, is because so much infrastructure is overlapping across state lines.

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For interstate commerce to take place, there have to be similar standards across various jurisdictions. It’s a system that isn’t the same when it comes to fishing largely because of the differences in terms of bodies of water and aquatic life in different states.

Different states, different needs

Each state has different needs, from the types of bodies of water to the species of fish they house, all the way to the cost of keeping their lakes stocked. So, unfortunately, there is no one licensing solution that works nationally. That means a fishing license from one state usually doesn’t work in any others.

However, there are some bodies of water that overlap state jurisdictions. In certain cases, a fishing license that works in one state may be good in another. But this applies on a case-by-case basis and must be researched accordingly.

State-By-State Data on Fishing License Requirements

Man with a fishing license, fishing in the surf
Saltwater Fisherman

Why are fishing licenses so important? In order to maintain their hobby within the current laws of state jurisdictions, fishermen need to have the proper licenses.

Licenses are issued to give states revenue for recouping the cost of maintaining fish populations, ensuring overfishing doesn’t occur, and making sure fishing is a hobby that can be enjoyed by everyone. Let’s take a look at some data on fishing licenses.

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If a state is skipped, it means there is little or no data available via the above resource. In those cases, individuals should research data from the applicable regulatory bodies of the states in question.

We will not list current prices for resident/non-resident licenses, as they change every year. However, we will show you exactly where to find a list of up to date prices.

Alabama

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

You can purchase licenses online (here). Alabama offers both fresh and saltwater fishing. The license will expire on August 31 unless otherwise noted. Military residency exception is available at local probate offices.

Alaska

Northern Lights, Alaska

Applicants may shop for licenses via the online portal, selecting their status as a resident, non-resident, non-resident military, or non-resident alien. Alaska fishers may choose short-term licenses only good for a certain consecutive period or annual licenses which are good for a calendar year.

Arizona

Colorado River, a great spot for fishing license holders in Arizona.
Colorado River, Arizona

General fishing licenses can be purchased and printed online, including combination hunting and fishing tags. Licenses are required for non-resident anglers older than 10 fishing at any publicly accessible waterway in the state. Youth under age 10 and blind residents do not require a license.

California

River Hills, California showing a great fishing spot
River Hills, California

Applicants must be at least 18 years old to purchase a license online and must provide information about their identity with a driver’s license, GO ID, or other equivalent documents. Those buying for friends can buy a fishing gift voucher instead. These can not be printed, and instead are mailed out, which can take up to 15 days at the time of this writing. Check the site for how to purchase, and the fees schedule list.

Colorado

Mountain scene for colorado state fishing license blurb
Colorado Scenic View

You can shop for both resident and non-resident licenses online, through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. You can also find up-to-date fishing report information on the site, to know where they’re biting. For fishing season dates, and a fees schedule listing, look here.

Delaware

Sunset on the Delaware River, a great place to fish
Sunset on the Delaware River

Individuals may use the state’s online portal to buy a license for themselves – but not for anyone else. Boat fishing licenses will see decals mailed out within three weeks. The website is not well set up, and can be tough to navigate. At the time of this writing, it warned of printing problems with touch screen devices and mobiles. This page is where you can purchase and see a fee schedule.

Florida

Florida Sunset over the ocean, Florida offers both salt and freshwater fishing licenses
Florida Sunset

For an avid angler, Florida Fishing is plentiful, including saltwater and freshwater fishing. Rates vary for non-residents or other age groups, and their website is pretty tough to navigate. To make it easier for you to find, here is a fee schedule for fishing, and the purchasing page.

Georgia

Pink and deep blue Georgia Sunrise over water
Georgia Sunrise

Georgia’s fish & game site is tough to navigate, but we have you covered. The list of license fees is here, and general fishing regulations here. Applicants must provide the date of birth, last name, and a third personal identifier (last four digits of SSN or another applicable source) to view purchasing options.

Hawaii

Hawaii mountain range and ocean scene
Hawaii Scenic View

This gorgeous U.S. state also offers both fresh and salt water fishing. Hawaii’s is another site that really isn’t easy to navigate. It may appear that you can’t find out the prices for licenses without entering your private information to purchase one, but you can, here.

Illinois

Lake Sarah, Illinois, showing camp fire in fishing camp. Fishing licenses in Illinois.
Lake Sarah, Illinois

Illinois State License site may not be easy to navigate, but we have the Illinois fishing license fees list (here), and the purchasing page (here).

Indiana

Indiana Dunes State Park, showing a beach with good fishing and cloudy sky
Dunes State Park, Indiana

Residents are defined as anyone living in the state for 60 consecutive days and may apply online for fishing licenses or available combo licenses. The fees list for Indian Fishing licenses is here, and the link to purchase them is here.

Kansas

Southeast Kansas

Kansas’ state DNR page is not super hard to navigate, but you will have to give your birth date and residency to get the fees list, here. There are tons of sites set up to capitalize on the fact that it’s tough to find this information. But, all you have to do is tell the site who you are and it’ll spit out the info, free.

Kentucky

Kentucky waterfall
Waterfall in Kentucky

Customers can only shop online for licenses for the current calendar year and must enter their personal information including date of birth and last four digits of SSN to explore available options. You will find the Kentucky license fee schedule here.

Maine

Image of lighthouse and sunrise over the ocean. Freshwater and saltwater fishing license is available.
Sunrise over Maine lighthouse

Applicants can apply online with personal information (name, DOB, contact information), as well as any hunter safety or previous state licensing information. Options available for residents, non-residents, and alien sportspersons. You will find the information about Maine fishing license cost here.

Maryland

Waterfall in Maryland
Maryland Waterfall

The license is required for anyone over the age of 16. A fishing license is good for 365 days from the date of purchase Saltwater angler registration (free) required to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River if they lack a Maryland fishing license. You will find the fee schedules here for Maryland Fishing License prices. You can purchase one here.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Lake

You can buy Massachusetts fishing licenses here. You can’t, however, find a fee schedule there, so click here to find out how much a fishing license in Mass. costs, for residents or non-residents. They offer salt and freshwater fishing.

Michigan

Mackinac bridge, Michigan
Mackinac bridge, Michigan

Applying to buy a Michigan fishing license online requires an online registration. The site makes it hard to find a list of current prices, but you can get those right here. This list covers ALL licenses, hunting and fishing, look for product numbers 201 (Fish all species) and 203 (Fish Daily).

Minnesota

Spruce Creek Minnesota, a fishing destination. Minnesota fishing license required.
Spruce Creek, Minnesota

A Minnesota fishing license can be purchased online here. You will find a list of all of the licenses offered, and the current year’s pricing, here. For all of their fishing regulations, look here. As the land of 10,000 lakes, don’t be surprised by the extensive number of licenses, stamps, and seasons!

Mississippi

River Bluff in Mississippi

Mississippi fishing licenses can be purchased for freshwater and saltwater angling. You can find a list of current prices for them here. You can also purchase them online here.

Missouri

Sunset on the Missouri Rivier

Applicants may apply online and view options based on residency status by entering their SSN, driver’s license number, or other accepted identifying data. You can find the fishing regulations here, fishing license costs here, and purchase your license here.

Montana

Sunset over Montana lake, where a fishing license is required
Sunset over Yellowstone Lake

On the Montana DNR website, you can purchase a license (here), find fishing regulations (here) and download a PDF of the fishing license costs, here. If you are looking for an online, simple list of Montana resident and non-resident fishing license fees, you can find that here.

Nebraska

Valentine, Nebraska River
Valentine, Nebraska

You will find a list of fishing license costs in Nebraska here, in a drop down menu. Nebraska offers one and three-year licenses, as well as daily, and resident/non-resident. Choose the type you need from the menu link above, and you can purchase it from there.

New Hampshire

Chocorua Lake, New Hampshire showing a great fishing spot: New Hampshire fishing license required
Chocorua Lake, New Hampshire

Customers must register in the online portal to see applicable deals. New Hampshire allows purchasing online licenses, but passes on credit card fees and has a small convenience fee at the time of this writing. There are two sites, and it’s tough to find prices (here) once you get to the purchasing page (here).

New Jersey

Batsto Lake, New Jersey

Special deals are available via the only portal for senior residents, legally blind residents, and youths. You will find the license details, including prices, here. On a separate site, you’ll find the secure purchasing portal, here.

New Mexico

Lake Navajo, New Mexico

New Mexico residents must make an account with the state’s online portal to view applicable rates for residents and non-residents. The state fish is the cutthroat trout. You can find the purchasing page here, and the requirements and license fees here (click on the “license fees” tab, next to the “requirements” tab on the page.)

New York

Avalanche Lake, New York

Applicants must create an account with the state’s applicable department online and requires a driver’s license in order to purchase a fishing license through this portal. Registration is required to see updated rates, and rates may be higher for out-of-state residents. You can find a list of prices here.

North Carolina

North Carolina fishing hole showing trees reflected in the water where fish hide
Trees reflected on the water in North Carolina

North Carolina also has online purchasing of fishing licenses, you can find the prices here. To connect to ALVIN, their Automated Vessel and License Information Network purchasing portal, you can click here.

North Dakota

North Dakota river scene
Panoramic North Dakota

North Dakota requires only a first and last name plus DOB to apply for their licensing registry portal. You can purchase licenses here. Their full book of regulations, and list of prices, is on this page.

Oklahoma

river in Oklahoma where people fish
Tranquility in Oklahoma

Oklahoma requires an account to register for licenses in their online portal, with proof of identity in the form of a valid driver’s license, state-issued ID card, passport, or social security number if the applicant is under 16. You can find that here. They have a viewable and downloadable PDF of the fishing guide online, with a list of prices here.

Oregon

Oregon lake scene, showing where good fishing may be
Lake in Oregon

The state sells licenses via their online portal and has a new electronic licensing system planned for 2019. There is a full copy of their fishing rules and guide here. Here is a list of licenses, permits and tag fees. To purchase online you must register, here.

Pennsylvania

Lake in Pennsylvania showing man with fishing license and two boys
Pennsylvania Fishing Lake

Pennsylvania’s online portal also requires account sign up to purchase a license. You can find a list of the prices, but not on that page. The Pennsylvania Fishing License fee schedule is here.

Rhode Island

Surf in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s online portal is similar to Pennsylvania’s, but it also offers users the chance to create an account they can sign in with complete with an identification number. It’s pretty tough to navigate the Fish and Wildlife site to the prices, but you can find that list here.

South Carolina

Marsh

South Carolina’s purchasing portal uses a similar sign-up system, with first-timers being required to have a valid driver’s license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or passport. They have their pricing pages broken up, for Residents, Non-Residents, Military, and Commercial SaltWater.

South Dakota

Gavin’s Point Dam

South Dakota’s licensing portal offers a single login where various types of licenses can be purchased. Their website offers a flippable version of their fishing regulations handbook, including the fee schedule, here.

Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

You can purchase a fishing license in Texas here. Finding the licenses and requirements page, here, is a little tougher. However, that’s where you will find the listing of prices and types they offer, for residents, non-residents and commercial fishers.

Utah

Lake Powell

You can create an account to purchase licenses, here. Utah allows you to print them on your own, and use it. You will find a complete list of licenses sold, and types available here. Their regulations, including downloadable PDFs, are found here.

Vermont

Lake in Vermont

Fishers in Vermont need to create a profile on the site’s purchasing portal to apply and can use their conservation ID number to apply for future wildlife licenses. Their regulations page is here, and it includes a mobile/online regulations tool. It took us a while, but we found the list of prices, here.

Virginia

Gazebo Park, in Virginia

The site has a purchasing portal, here, for Virginia Fishing Licenses. You will find their freshwater fishing regulations here. For a list of available licenses and permits, and their costs, click here. Another interesting page on this site is the list of fish you can catch.

Washington

Mount Shuksan

In Washington, you can buy a fishing license online here. You will find the list of up-to-date pricing here. If you are looking for their state fishing regulations, you’ll find them here.

West Virginia

West Virginia Waterfall

You will find the list of fishing licenses available in Virginia, here. To start a new account, or use an existing one to purchase them online, go here. To find all of Virginia’s fishing regulations in one place, go here.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin

To purchase a Wisconsin Fishing License, you go here and create a profile first. They have several different books of regulations, each for different types of fishing, all of them are listed here. Page 5 of this viewable and downloadable PDF Hook and Line fishing regulations handbook contains the list of prices.

Additional Information About Getting a Fishing License

Fishing license fees and terms can change annually or biannually, meaning this information changes often. We’ve linked to the most applicable pages of these websites, and will update this article as often as possible.

While there is no one license that works in all 50 states, fishing enthusiasts can find the information they need to hit the waters in any one of them with relative ease.

Finding good, solid activities to do, which are not in close proximity to other people is a challenge. However, there are many open areas that one can fish in. Getting outside is healthy.

Keyword: fishing license

Janice Friedman
 

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