If you want to start fishing as a resident of the US, the first thing you need to ask is where can I get a fishing license. A license to fish allows you to fish in freshwater and saltwater. The state you're living in issues the license in most cases.
You may have to meet certain requirements to get a license to fish. You can also fish in different states with a single license. For example, you can fish in all New England states with one license.
Each state has its own rules and regulations for the anglers. Some landlocked states only give licenses for fishing in rivers, lakes, and streams. Coastal states can give a license for ocean fishing, as well.
Generally, the license to fish depends on residency, age, purpose, and even the fish species. At Sota Fishing, we’ll explain how and where you can get a fishing license.
Why Do I Need a Fishing License?
If you’re wondering where can I get a fishing license, you should first know why you need one. Before the 19th century, fishing did not require a license.
Fishers were free to fish anywhere they liked without permission from a local or state government. This was back when the population had not risen to the levels it had in the early 20th century. It was the time when migrants were populating the whole continent.
The US had vast geography with many different kinds of water bodies. There was also an abundance of fishes to catch. Fishers and recreational anglers explored these waters and fished without any regulations. This was before the wildlife extinction concept came around.
Introduction to Regulations and License to Protect Fishes
With this abundance of wildlife, people assumed that this resource in America was never-ending. However, as is usually the case, when human populations increase, the wildlife population decreases. It was not until the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt that people started to understand the importance of wildlife conservation.
After that, some states started requiring anglers to get a license before they can fish. Many fish species, especially coastal, were already endangered at the time. Fishing licensing allows states to regulate recreational fishing and protect endangered species. This is done by setting up a cap on the type of fish species you can fish in the state’s waters.
Another reason for licensing fishing is to catch poachers. Poachers who fish outside the regulations cause severe damage to marine life. The license regulations discourage poachers from taking on these waters and ultimately save endangered and precious fish species.
Types of Fishing Licenses
All the states issue different types of fishing licenses that generally depend on the residency of the applicant, the type of fish (sea or fresh), and the purpose of fishing. This is a general description of the types of fishing licenses, but you can check what type of fishing license your state, in particular, issues.
Fishing License by Residency
All the states usually issue licenses to their residents only. However, some also issue licenses to visitors who want to fish in the waters of that state. Usually, it’s a bit cheaper for the residents of the state to get a fishing license.
Visitors have to pay a higher fee for the license. Also, they might have restrictions in comparison with the residents of the state. The validity of the license also differs.
Residents of the state can get licenses with the validity of a few years to a lifetime. Visitors, on the other hand, might just be able to get it for a week or 30 days.
Fishing License by Type of Water
Fishing licenses also differ by the type of water you are fishing in. Some states issue different licenses for sea and fresh waters, while some combine both in one. Landlocked states just issue the fishing license for freshwater fishing.
The regulations do not just stop at the type of water you can fish in. Many times these regulations extend to the type of fish species you can fish (for example, Walleye) and the amount you can catch in a day. These regulations will come with your license, so make sure to read them carefully and follow them.
Fishing License by Type of Fishing
States may also distinguish fishing licenses by the purpose of fishing. This means that you can get a license for recreational fishing as well as commercial fishing.
The latter is usually for professional anglers who make a living off selling fish. Again, there are regulations to follow if you plan on selling fish caught in the state’s waters.
How to Buy Fishing License
Most states have made it very simple and easy to get a fishing license these days. Many of the states use online systems to take applications for the fishing license. This is the fastest and most convenient way for anglers as they can get a license sitting at home. You will pay the fee using your debit or credit card and immediately receive a printable license.
You may also be able to apply for a fishing license on the phone or by mail. They will require your name, date of birth, and residency information. Your license would most likely arrive in the mail in a few days.
An alternative to this is to get it in person. You can visit the state department that issues the fishing license and get it in person. Some fishing equipment stores and sports equipment stores may also be able to sell you a fishing license.
Where Can I Get a Fishing License?
The regulations and licensing regarding fishing differ by each state. Here is where you can get a fishing license in the following states where fishing is very popular:
The marine fishing license costs just $10 for anglers aged 16 to 64. For those over 64 years, it is free. You need a valid license from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New York, to fish in the state.
Freshwater fishing licenses are $28 for a year, $32 for all waters. This price is for residents of Connecticut. For non-residents, it’s $55 for a year-long license. If you are fishing in certain designated areas, you might need a trout and salmon stamp. You can get the license online at Connecticut’s Online Sportsmen Licensing System.
Delaware issues a single fishing license for both marine and freshwater fishing. It just costs $8.50 for residents and $20 for non-residents. Those older than 65 are exempt from the licensing requirement. The Division of Fish & Wildlife issues the fishing license.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issues both freshwater and saltwater fishing license. You can get the licenses at Go Outdoors, Florida. The fishing license for residents for one year is $17.
For non-residents, it is $47 for an annual license. They can also get a three-day or seven-day license for $17 and $30. The Shoreline-Only fishing license is free for residents.
If you have a freshwater fishing license, you may not need a separate marine fishing license in Maine. The freshwater fishing license fee is $25 for residents and $64 for non-residents. The Maine government issues these licenses.
In Maryland, you can get a year-long non-tidal/freshwater fishing license for $20.50 if you are a resident, and for $30.50 if you are not a resident. Those fishing at sea can register with the no-fee marine recreational fishing registry.
Additionally, anglers with a fishing license from Virginia can also fish in Maryland. You can get your license quickly on this website from the state government.
The cost of the freshwater fishing license for residents of Massachusetts is $27.50, whereas, for non-residents, it is $37.50. A marine fishing license is $10 for both residents and non-residents. The licenses usually have a year-long validity. You can obtain the license here.
Michigan issues year-long as well as 24-hour and 72-hour fishing licenses. It is home to so many freshwater lakes, which is why the limited fishing licenses come in very handy for those who are traveling from other states to fish in Michigan waters.
The annual fishing license fee is $26 for residents. It is quite high for non-residents at $76. The 24-hour and 72-hour licenses are $10 and $30, respectively. You can buy it online with the Department of Natural Resources or in stores in many parts of the state.
You can buy a fishing license from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources online. The license allows you to fish in the many lakes in the Midwest state.
It also offers family and couples fishing license. You can also get a combination license to hunt small game and fish. There are a bunch of different licenses both for residents and non-residents.
Just like in New York State, those looking for a marine fishing license should register with the National Marine Fishing Services. Those looking for a freshwater fishing license can buy it from the New Jersey State Government’s website.
This costs $22.50 for residents and $34 for non-residents. You need a trout stamp as well if you want to catch trout.
In the New York state, you can register for free with the no-fee recreational marine fishing registry when fishing in the sea. This is part of the National Marine Fishing Service, which has a database of all the anglers fishing in the marine.
If you want to fish in freshwater, the license fee is $25 for a one-year license for residents. This fee is double for non-residents. You may also be able to fish with a license from Connecticut or Rhode Island. Department of Environment Conversation issues these licenses. You need a driver’s license to apply.
Fish licenses are cheaper in Rhode Island than in some of its neighboring states. The marine fishing license costs only $7 for residents and $10 for non-residents. A freshwater fishing license is issued for a year and costs $18 for residents and $35 for non-residents.
A $5 trout stamp is also required when fishing for trout. You can also fish with a valid Massachusetts, New York, or Connecticut issued fishing license. The state government issues all fishing licenses.
The minimum age for anglers to buy a fishing license in Texas is 17 years. Getting a license is very easy. You will need a freshwater endorsement on your license when fishing in freshwater and seawater endorsement when fishing in seawater.
The annual freshwater license is $30 for residents and $58 for non-residents. The saltwater fishing license is $35 for residents and $63 for non-residents. There is a single-day all-water license as well for just $11.
Senior citizens get a special discount on all licenses. Also, you do not need a license at all when fishing on the annual free fishing day, which is the first Saturday of June.
The state of Washington does not require you to have a license if you are just fishing for common carp, bullfrogs, crawfish, and relic fish. However, for anything other than that, you need a license.
If you plan on fishing for trout, salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, and halibut, you will also receive a catch record card with the license.
Buying a license is very easy. You can buy it online with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can also call or get it from the many license dealers across the state. There are a bunch of licenses available, and you can find the fee here. It can take up to 10 days to get the license with a catch record card when ordering online or by phone.
Wisconsin offers first-time anglers a reduced price fishing license. There is also a one-day fishing pass for residents and visitors. The annual resident fishing license is $20. For non-residents, it costs $50.
The one day pass is only $8, and you can renew it towards an annual license for $12.50. Great Lake Salmon and Trout fishing require a special stamp for 10 bucks. You can get them at the Department of Natural Resources service centers or the Go Wild website by Wisconsin government.
Getting your license before fishing is compulsory. It helps protect you and the marine life around us. You can get fined if you are caught fishing without a license, even if you are doing it for recreational purposes.
In most states, anglers 16 or older require a license. Those younger than that do not require one but may need an individual with a valid license to fish with them.