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What is a Sport Fishing License?

There is some debate about whether or not fishing is a “sport.” As thousands of bass, catfish, and walleye tournament anglers and their fans can attest, it certainly can be a “competition.” But “sport fishing” is any fishing that is not commercial. If you are not selling fish you have harvested, a sport fishing license is all you will need.

Whenever I travel to a different state, one of the first things I do is pick up a copy of the state’s sport fishing regulations. It will explain what species are available, where and when each can be caught, and what size and quantities can be kept. Don’t just skim this publication; study it carefully.  Keep one in the boat or under the seat of your truck. Some of the information regarding sport fishing rules can be complicated. Thanks to the purchase of your sport fishing license, funding continues for the sampling and research used to maintaining sustainability of the fishery for each body of water.

Bassmaster Elite tournament anglers must purchase an out of state sport fishing license in each state they compete. The 2019 tournament trail was released recently and anglers will be fishing in at least 9 states including California.  A nonresident California sport fishing license is about $130. This may sound like a lot but when you consider the year-long chance of landing a double digit largemouth or spotted bass, as well as the many other opportunities this affords, it sounds like a bargain!

A fishing license is the same as a “sport fishing license” as long as you are “just” fishing for recreation, relaxation, or good old fun. These licenses can be purchased as “lifetime,” yearly, or just a couple of days for travelers and are easily obtained online or via most sporting goods stores. How many states have you fished in this year?


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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org 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.