BlogNovember 2016

How much does a fishing license cost?

How much does a fishing license cost?

By Tom Keer

Nov 21, 2016

 When you think about it, the cost of a fishing license is about the least-expensive form of entertainment you'll spend in a year.  

It's tough to give one figure for how much a fishing license costs.  In-state licenses cost less than out-of-state licenses, while a short-term license that you might buy for a week's fishing trip costs less than an annual license.  In most states kids under 16 fish for free as do senior citizens, but there are some variations on the actual ages.  If you add in a combo fishing/hunting license it gets tricky.  

But the point is that a fishing license offers inexpensive entertainment.  I paid $10.00 for a saltwater license and $27.50 for a resident freshwater license, $37.50 all in.  My fishing license means I can catch trout, bass, panfish and other species in fluid water as well as through the ice.  When the stripers roam the beaches I can catch them and bluefish, bonito, and False albacore, too.  And I can cross state lines into CT, RI, and NH for saltwater species.  My licenses enable me to go fishing 365 days per year.  Here's the oddity of that number.  For that fee, my cost to go fishing is just over ten cents a day.

These days, what can you buy for a dime?  Pay phones are obsolete, so that dime won't go far.  How about a gallon of gas?  A cup of decent coffee or a bottle of soda?  Forget about lunch, dinner, movie tickets, sporting events, or a live music concert, they all cost way more than a fishing license. The only thing that comes close to the cost of a fishing license is my breakfast, which is a cake doughnut from my local bakery.  Even that pastry runs me $1.31 all in.  Which is nearly two weeks of fishing time...

 Although fishing is a lot healthier than eating a doughnut, I’m not giving up my morning cinnamon wheel.  But heading out for an hour let alone a whole day is a lot healthier.  It's fun, and if I bring home one or two fish for dinner then I just paid for my license and I can release the rest of the fish and be even. Also, the cost of the licenses goes to fund the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which just helps create better habitat and more fish.

So when you think about it, a fishing license is probably the smallest of annual expenses.  Get your 2017 license soon.  The next step is to ask for gifts of tackle during the holidays, your birthday, and for Father's or Mother's Day.  That way you'll have enough money left in your wallet to pay for a fishing trip or two.
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