Home Fishing Tips & Advice How Old Do You Need to Be to Get a Fishing License?

How Old Do You Need to Be to Get a Fishing License?

If you’re considering going fishing in the United States, you’ll have to remember that having a valid fishing license is mandatory. This applies to all anglers whether you’re looking to pick up fishing as a hobby or to run a business. While picking up a fishing license is generally easy, one of the most important requirements to follow is the minimum age. But how old do you need to be to get a fishing license? Well, the minimum age requirement varies from state to state, ranging between ages 10 to 18. But first, let’s take a closer look into what a fishing license does.

What is a fishing license?

A fishing license is a valid documentation required for anyone looking to fish in the United States. This applies to both the locals and tourists alike. All proceeds from the fishing license sales are used in conservation efforts across the nation. This allows the US Fish ; Wildlife Service to restore the environmental damages that may arise from fishing. Do note that there are different types of fishing licenses available, including: 

  • Saltwater fishing licenses
  • Freshwater fishing licenses 

It’s essential to remember that you’ll need the right fishing license to fish in different water conditions. For example, if you have a saltwater fishing license, you may not be allowed to fish in any freshwater lakes or streams. This rule also applies vice versa. Furthermore, some fishing licenses would also allow you to take home crustaceans and amphibians from your fishing trip while others don’t. To avoid a negative brush with the law, it’s always important to look through the level of access your fishing license provides you.

How do I get a fishing license?

Thankfully, getting a fishing license is breezy. One of the most convenient ways is to apply through the official US Fish and Wildlife Service website. This allows you to obtain a digital copy of your fishing license and would make your fishing trips easier as you won’t have to carry a paper license. For minor individuals however, you would have to still bring along a paper license that is signed by a parent. These licenses are usually valid for a full year and depending on the rules of your state, this may mean it’s valid from January 1st to December 31st. In some states, the validity of your fishing license will start from the date of your application. If you’re a tourist looking to only visit for a short period, you may also apply for a temporary license valid between several days to 2 weeks.

Do note however that there may be other circumstances that require you to visit the US Fish and Wildlife Service department offices. This is especially for anyone looking to apply for a lifetime fishing license. In case you’re buying a fishing license for a minor, a parent signature would usually be required for the license to be valid. 

How old do you need to be to get a fishing license? 

As we’ve mentioned before, the minimum age of getting a fishing license varies from state to state. This requirement does not apply to the state of Hawaii as you won’t need a fishing license for recreational fishing. Here is a clearer breakdown of how old you’ll need to be to get a fishing license across the nation: 

10 years old

  • Arizona

12 years old

  • Kentucky
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah

13 years old 

  • Tennessee

14 years old

  • Idaho
  • Wyoming

15 years old

  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

16 years old

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North and South Carolina
  • North and South Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

17 years old

  • Michigan
  • Texas

18 years old

  • Alaska
  • Indiana

How much would a fishing license cost? 

Just like how there are different rules and requirements to a fishing license in every state, the price of a fishing license also varies. Annual fees for a fishing license may start from $6 to a maximum of $50 for residents. Meanwhile, if you’re a visitor looking to purchase a fishing license, you may be looking at paying between $22.50 to $145 a year. If you’re an underaged individual or a senior resident, you may receive a discount to your annual fishing license fee. This discount may not apply to every state, so it’s best to contact your local US Fish and Wildlife department office to ensure that you qualify for the discount.  

If you are purchasing a lifetime fishing license in your state, it’s good to note that the price points become more expensive as you age. This is why it’s best to get your lifetime fishing license at a younger age in your state if you foresee fishing to be a long-term enjoyment.

Can I use my fishing license from another state to fish in a different state? 

Now you may be asking, “I already have a fishing license from the state I live in. Can I still fish freely when I visit a different state?” Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to use your fishing license outside of your state. This is as there may be different sets of requirements for obtaining your fishing license in your state versus the state you’re visiting. If you’re simply looking to fish on a vacation, you may consider applying for a temporary fishing license at the state of your holiday spot. This is also when you’ll have to take note of the minimum age requirement in applying for a fishing license.

When or where can I fish without a fishing license? 

If you haven’t got a fishing license but wish to cast a rod nevertheless, we’d recommend waiting for the free fishing day events. While the exact date of the free fishing day is different from one state to another, what it simply means is that you can fish even if you don’t have a fishing license. This is especially ideal for anyone who isn’t sure if they are ready to commit to fishing as a hobby that they should invest in a fishing license, or even for parents who wish to instill the habit of fishing in their children.

Separately, you may also fish without a fishing license in certain private properties. You should however obtain permission from the owner of the property and be sure that there is no public entry or exit points in the body of water before casting your rod. Occasionally, you’ll also come across selected state parks where you can fish without a fishing license. This however may come with a certain set of rules instilled by the state parks such as daily fishing quota or limitations to the length of the fish you can fish up.

In conclusion, having a valid fishing license will help give you peace of mind the next time you wish to cast a rod. This is as you’ll know you won’t be breaking any rules in your state and still play a small part in helping the wildlife conservation efforts. Do note that in the event you’re caught fishing without a valid license, you may be fined up to $500 or if you’re found to be a repeat offender, you may even face jail time.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.