The Saltwater Fishing License

No one bats an eye about a freshwater fishing license, but in recent time more coastal states have added saltwater fishing licenses to the mix. They're new to most states, so here are answers to 4 commonly asked questions.

Reeling fish in.

  1. Who needs a saltwater license? Like their freshwater counterpart, anglers 16 years or older are required to hold a saltwater license. Most states have rules that don't charge disabled people or anglers fishing on a permitted-for-hire boat like a charter or head boat.

  2. Do we need an additional license when crossing state boundaries? Many states offer reciprocal fishing agreements. My saltwater license in Massachusetts, for example, also covers angling in the three neighboring states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Check before you buy, you might save some money.

  3. Do fees vary by state and are there some changes? Most fees are between $10 and $30, but Virginia recently announced a reduction in their 2015 fees (as of April 1) from $22.50 to $17.50. Most states offer free fishing to folks over 60. Check the states fees before you go.

  4. Where does the money goes?? Most of the revenue generated from the license sales will go to one of three major initiatives: improvement of public access, development and distribution of educational information, and marine fishing programs as approved by the recreational fishing development panel.

So with any evolving new program that crosses state boundaries you'll need to study saltwater license sales a bit more. The good news are, you can do that right here.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at