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Fishing Licenses

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A recreational fishing license is a requirement for anglers in every state. While sport fishing license requirements differ by state, they are all based on protecting endangered species, environments and anglers. Thus, anglers must obtain a recreational fishing license if they are fishing for sport in the United States. Additionally, they should be familiar with specific types of licenses such as recreational saltwater licenses or licenses for freshwater areas.

Because a game and fish fishing license enables anglers to fish in public and some private waters in each U.S. state, they must understand how to acquire and maintain their licenses. For instance, a temporary fishing license can cost from a few dollars to $100. However, annual and lifetime licenses are also issues in several states. To learn more about a license’s eligibility requirements, types and costs, read the sections below.

Who needs a fishing license?

All anglers partaking in fishing activities including, but not limited to, casting, net and spearfishing techniques require a recreational or commercial fishing license in order to catch fish legally. However, each state has different age limits for recreational fishing licenses, and certain younger anglers may need to be accompanied by a licensed angler. For instance, in Florida and in California, children younger than 16 years of age are exempt from having to obtain a fishing license.

What are the requirements to get a fishing license?

Anglers who wish to obtain a saltwater or freshwater fishing license must meet age, residency and educational requirements that vary according to each state. Additionally, fishing enthusiasts must be able to afford the recreational or commercial fishing price to be issued a license. Below are a few examples regarding license requirements in different states:

  • Residents must present their driver’s licenses upon application as a form of identification and proof of residency. This is the case in several states, including New York.
  • Residents older than 65 years of age may be required to purchase a lifetime license, such as in the case of Mississippi.

What are the types of fishing licenses?

The types of recreational fishing licenses available to eligible anglers may feature different validity periods and costs. Common types of sport fishing licenses are as follows:

  • Annual resident or non-resident freshwater fishing license – An annual freshwater fishing license allows anglers to fish in habitats such as streams, lakes, swamps and rivers for one year.
  • Annual resident or non-resident saltwater fishing license – An annual saltwater fishing license allows anglers to fish in environments such as open oceans, seashores, shallow seas, estuaries, ocean depths and coral reefs for one year.
  • Lifetime license – A lifetime license allows anglers to fish within states lines for the rest of their lives. In states such as Mississippi, anglers older than 65 years of age are required to obtain a lifetime license.
  • Temporary or short-term license – In Florida, three-day and seven-day licenses are offered to anglers. These fishing licenses are particularly suitable for nonresidents.
  • Commercial fishing permits – A commercial fishing license is issued to anglers and fisheries who intend on catching fish and exchanging their catches for monetary or non-monetary amounts.
  • Combination game and fish licenses – For fishermen who are also interested in hunting, states such as Texas offer combination licenses that give individuals authorization to hunt and fish within the state.

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Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Saltwater bag and size limits

Bag limit: The maximum number of fish or invertebrates per person per day. A maximum daily bag limit of 20 applies to any fish or invertebrate not included in the tables below. Protected and threatened species cannot be taken.

Bag limit comprised of any single species or a combination of listed grouped species.

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