Ice Fishing License Information

By Andy Whitcomb

Dec 04, 2019

Ice fishing season is approaching in some states. Here’s what you need to know about an ice fishing license. 

In the northern U.S., potential ice fishing time is rapidly approaching. It is a whole different ballgame, with safety considerations being an initial concern. While you are shivering and awaiting the formation of at least four inches of ice, make sure your ice fishing license hasn’t expired.

Yes, a fishing license for ice fishing is required, but it is not a separate license; it is covered with your standard fishing license. I once heard a frustrated ice fisherman grumble that perhaps there should be a discount for not being able to cast. Although the comment was obviously made in jest, to clarify, any time one simply drops a line with a hook even without a rod, either through an ice hole or off a dock, it certainly still counts as fishing. So, you need to have a current valid license to count as your ice fishing license.

In states such as Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, dates for an annual fishing license are for the standard calendar year, January 1 to December 31. However, other states are seemingly more random with their dates so stay on your toes. For example, an annual Colorado license runs from April 1 to March 31 of the following year, where a Texas license begins in September? But then again, there won’t be much of a need for an ice fishing license in Texas.

If you are new to fishing and wondering how much does a fishing license cost, visit your state’s official fishing website. You’ll also find information concerning a one day fishing pass or longer, as well as non-resident license costs for your guests. Some northern states have incorporated free fishing dates into the ice fishing season. This might be a way for someone to avoid the issue of a fishing license for ice fishing prior to purchasing a license for times when the water is in more of a liquid form. For example, North Dakota is December 28 and 29th, while Wisconsin is the third weekend in January (18-19), and Maine is February 15-16.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.