Get a California Fishing License

California offers a number of different fishing license options including short-term and annual licenses. Learn more about the different types of licenses available, and then purchase a California fishing license online or from a license agent, like a sporting good store. Fishing licenses help pay for fishery conservation education and other valuable programs. Please note that California does not require a fishing license when fishing on a public pier.

Get a California Fishing License
Fishing License

California Fishing Licenses

In California, anyone age 16 or above is required to get a sport fishing license to take any fish; shell fish, reptile or amphibian in the state. Like other fishing regulations, the license requirement is intended to protect fish populations so that generations of anglers will have good fishing opportunities.

It’s important to note that you don’t need a license if you’re fishing from a public pier in ocean waters. Also, the state offers two free fishing days each year that allow anglers to try sport fishing without getting a license. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website has these dates listed.

Types of Fishing Licenses

When fishing in California, you have several options when it comes to getting a fishing license. The choice comes down to where you live and how many days you expect to fish.

  • Annual Licenses (valid January 1 through December 31 or for the remainder of the year if purchased after January 1)
  • Resident Sport Fishing License
  • Nonresident Sport Fishing License
  • Short-Term Licenses
  • One-day Sport Fishing License
  • Two-Day Sport Fishing License
  • Ten-Day Nonresident Sport Fishing License
  • Lifetime Licenses

In California, a resident is considered anyone who has resided continuously in the state for six months or more immediately prior to the date of their application for a license or permit, anyone on active military duty, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps.

In addition to residents and nonresidents, certain anglers can purchase reduced-fee licenses as long as they qualify. These include:

  • Disabled Veterans
  • Recovering Service Members
  • Low Income Seniors

Free sport fishing licenses in California are available to:

  • Low Income Native Americans
  • Mobility Impaired, Blind or Developmentally Disabled Individuals

Fishing License Fees

The current California annual fishing license fees for 2021 are $52.66 for a resident and $142.05 for a nonresident.

For short-term licenses, the fees are as follows:

  • One-day Sport Fishing License: $17.02
  • Two-Day Sport Fishing License: $26.49
  • Ten-Day Nonresident Sport Fishing License: $52.56

The fee for a lifetime fishing license varies based on age.

  • 0-9: $579.25
  • 10-39: $946.75
  • 40-61: $853
  • 62+: $579.25

The fees are used to help the state manage its fish and wildlife resources and provide the public with enjoyable fishing experiences. They are subject to adjustment ever year based on inflation or deflation.

It’s important to note that any fees paid for a license can’t be refunded so if your plans change, you will not be able to get your money back.

Where to Buy a California Fishing License

Any type of resident or nonresident fishing license can be purchased online through the CDFW website, at a license agent located throughout the state or at one of 10 CDFW license sales offices.

In case your license is lost or destroyed, a license agent or CDFW license sales office can also help you obtain a duplicate sport fishing license.

Caring for a Fishing License

Since there is a small fee to get a replacement license, you should take care to protect your license.

Licenses should never be heat laminated since the process will destroy the license. If exposed to extreme heat, the license will darken and become discolored. A discolored license, however, is still valid as long as it’s readable.

While a fishing license doesn’t have to be worn, it should be in your immediate possession while fishing. The exception to this is when you’re diving.