BlogJuly 2018

How to Learn about a Recreational Saltwater Fishing

How to Learn about a Recreational Saltwater Fishing

By Andy Whitcomb

Jul 11, 2018

Learn how saltwater fishing permits and requirements vary greatly from state to state. Here are some reasons why you need to learn about the permit required.

Summer is here and you may be heading to a beach somewhere. With such close proximity, don’t miss the opportunity to do some saltwater fishing. But the first step is to learn what recreational saltwater fishing permit is required. The best way to “do your homework” is to check out that state’s official recreational fishing regulations website, because saltwater fishing permit information varies greatly.

Here are some examples of the differences around the country:

According to the California Department of fish and wildlife website, no recreational saltwater fishing permit is required as long as fishing off a public pier. This is defined as a pier that has “unrestricted free access to the general public.” If fishing anywhere else, you’ll need to purchase a saltwater fishing permit.

In Maine, a “registration” is all that is required instead of calling it a “license.” A person is required to register with the state annually in order to engage in recreational saltwater fishing unless there is an exemption such as having a valid Marine freshwater recreational fishing license with an indication on it regarding if you went saltwater fishing in the previous year.  If you aren’t sure, go ahead and purchase their version of a recreational saltwater fishing permit online to be on the safe side because it is only $1. Additional permits are required for vessels fishing for large pelagic species such as shark, billfish, and tuna.

Investigate the fine print, often found on the state’s website FAQ pages. Recreational saltwater fishing permit regulations vary depending on your status as a resident, non-resident, veteran, or age.  It also can matter if you are fishing from shore or boat. Some states will issue a one day fishing license; the shortest length elsewhere may be 2-3 days. Unfortunately, some states’ annual license “years” are set at confusing times. In Texas, fishing licenses are valid from date of purchase in August to August 31 of following year, whereas in Washington, a license year is defined as April 1 to March 31.

Free fishing days might be one way to avoid some of this confusion but even then, permits still can apply such as those which are species dependant such as tarpon and snook permits in Florida. Does your head hurt? Sorry, this is just part of responsible fishing. Take a deep breath, study, and learn the saltwater fishing permit or license requirements online. It will be worth it! Once that minor formality is out of the way, there is no greater ticket to fun!

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.