6 Things to Consider When Buying a Fishing License

Maybe you’ve seen your friends posting largemouth bass pictures on Instagram or were inspired by your cousin who recently reeled in a 150-pound tarpon on a trip to the Florida Keys. Regardless, all of the fishing talk, television shows, photos and stories have you intrigued. You might not have that much experience fishing, but so what? There’s only one way to gain experience -- by getting out on the water and doing it.

Your first step is to purchase a state fishing license if you don’t already have one. However, after taking a look online, you might be wondering about all of the license options and associated fees.

Here are six common questions about fishing licenses along with the answers for you to consider:

  1. How much are fishing license fees and why do we have to pay them? Fishing license fees vary by state (find state-specific information here) and are important because the funds are used to help conserve state fisheries and fish populations.

  2. Are there resident and non-resident fishing licenses offered for each state? And, are the fees higher for non-residents? Yes, there are both resident and non-resident fishing licenses offered in each state. Fees are generally higher for non-residents.

  3. Do anglers under 16 years of age need to purchase fishing license? In most states, anyone under the age of 16 does not need a license to fish. However, please check the fishing rules for your local area and remember that any adults fishing with those under the age of 16 will need a license.

  4. Do some states offer free or reduced fishing license fees? Yes, some states offer free or reduced licenses to those who are veterans, disabled, legally blind and those 65 years of age or older. Be sure to check the specific laws that apply in your state and contact your state fish and wildlife agency or DNR (Department of Natural Resources) if you have questions.

  5. Can I buy a fishing license online or do I have to go to a fishing license vendor like a tackle shop or sporting goods store? Many states now sell fishing licenses online as well as through approved vendors. Be sure to check with your state agency to find out if licenses can be purchased online.

  6. Is there such a thing as a resident lifetime fishing license? Yes, many states including Florida, New York, California and Minnesota offer residents the option of a lifetime fishing license. Lifetime licenses are for avid anglers (or those who anticipate becoming avid anglers) and want the convenience of not having to renew each year. For those who want to save money, the cost of a lifetime license is less than what you would spend renewing annual licenses, permits and fees.

Are there other questions you have about fishing licenses? Join the Take Me Fishing Community and comment on this post to add your question to the list.

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.