Do I Need a Fishing License to Go Fishing

By Get Fishing •  Published: 07/01/22 •  11 min read

You want to go fishing, but don’t know if you need a fishing license. In this post we answer every question when it comes to fishing licenses.

do you need a fishing license to go fishing

Can I Fish without a Fishing License

You can, but it depends on a few things. The age of the angler, the location of where you are fishing, and even the day you are fishing.

Free Fishing Day

Free Fishing Day is a day or sometimes several days where you can go fishing without a license. Most states in the US have designated days where you can go fishing without purchasing a license. Free Fishing Days are intended for new anglers to get out on the water as easily as possible.

While you don’t need a license to go fishing, you do still need to abide by your local fishing rules and regulations like minimum size, bag limits, and seasons.

If you’re interested in finding out your state’s Free Fishing Day check out Take Me Fishing’s full list of Free Fishing Days.

Texas State Parks

If you’re in Texas, there are several opportunities to fish without a license across the Lone Star state. One of the major opportunities is fishing Texas State parks. While you do need to pay an entry fee, you are not required to have a license if you are fishing in a Texas State park.

You will need to follow rules and regulations and its best to check with your local state park for any additional regulations that are specific to that area. For more information visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website to learn more about free fishing opportunities at Texas state parks.

California Beach Fishing


If you are in California, you can fish for free in several locations without a license. If you are fishing along the beach in California you can take advantage of free fishing piers, jetties, and breakwaters. This allows people to go fishing without the need of purchasing a license as long as it is recreational fishing and not commercial fishing.

Rules and regulations still apply and individual piers, jetties, or breakwaters can be closed by a landowner for any reason. For more information on visit the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife site to learn more about California beach fishing.

Do you need an ID to get a fishing license?

No you don’t, but it does help make the process go by a little faster. The reason you would need an ID to purchase a fishing license is to prove residency, but there are several ways to do that without one. Some states you can prove residency with a social security number or being a student at the local state college.

If you’re a non-resident you only need to put in an address and you’re good to go if you are buying online. Check with your local fish and game department to make sure you meet all the requirements for purchasing a license.

Does My Child Need a Fishing License?

In most states a person under a certain age does not need a fishing license to go fishing. The ages range from 16 and under to 18 and under. Once they past that age range, your child is required to have a license to go fish unless fishing on a Free Fishing day or fishing in an area that does not require a fishing license.

Does a Senior Citizen Need a Fishing License?

In most states across the US a senior citizen does need a fishing license to legally fish. However many states have programs where people over a certain age can receive their license at a discounted price by simply filling out an application. In North Carolina if you eligible you can purchase a Lifetime Fishing license for $16.

Can a Non-US Citizen Get a Fishing License?

Yes they can. All an immigrant needs is the ability to prove residency to purchase a fishing license just like a US Citizen. They can go to any license agent in the state they intend to fish in and buy their license right there or purchase it online. A drivers license, College ID, or State ID will make this process go smoothly and have a non-US citizen fishing in no time.

Can an illegal immigrant get a fishing license?

In small number of states undocumented immigrants are able to purchase a fishing license because they are able to receive a Driving Authorization Card (DAC). This fulfills the ability to prove residency in a state and in this case New Mexico, acts as a Drivers License. With the Driving Authorization Card an undocumented person can go to an authorized license agent and purchase a license.

Can a Felon Have a Fishing License?

Yes, there is nothing that stops someone who committed a felony to purchase a fishing license after leaving prison. All they need is to head to a licensed agent and purchase a license in the state they intend to fish in. After that they are able to fish without worry of breaking the law for fishing without a license.

Do You Need a Fishing License to Fish on Private Property?

It depends on the state. For example, you do not need a license if you are fishing a private body of water in the state of Texas, Florida, or North Carolina. If you are fishing in a state like New Jersey, you are required to have a fishing license regardless of fishing private or public waters. Please check with your local state fish and wildlife department for local regulations.

Can you share a fishing license?

group of people fishing

No, you cannot share your fishing license with another person. If you are required to have a license, that fishing license only covers the person who’s name is on the license.

Does everyone in a boat need a fishing license?

people in a boat fishing

In most states everyone in a boat is required to have a fishing license if they intend to fish. If you are not fishing you do not need to have a license. This includes charter fishing boats and guided fishing boats. Please check your local regulations to make sure you are prepared before going out on the water.

Do you need a fishing license for catch and release?

If you are catch and release fishing you do need a fishing license. Your license gives you the legal ability to fish in the state that you have purchased it regardless of whether or not you are keeping your catch. You will still need to abide by seasons and other regulations as well even if you are only catch and release fishing.

What happens when you get caught without a fishing license

Fishing without a fishing license can lead to a fine. In most states the fine ranges from $100 to more depending on how often you break the law and fish without a license. In some states if you do it enough you can get your fishing license privileges revoked indefinitely. Meaning the Fish and Wildlife department can stop you from buying a license for as long as they want. Please check with your local fish and wildlife department to make sure you are legal and good to go before you head out to the water.

Where can I buy a Fishing License

You can buy a fishing license online on your state’s fish and wildlife website. This is usually the best and fastest way to get your hands on a license and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. You can also go into any license agent to purchase a license in person. This includes big box stores like Walmart and Bass Pro Shops or even local mom and pop tackle shops.

Does Ace Hardware Sell Fishing License

Yes many Ace Hardware stores sell fishing licenses across the US. You can also pick up fishing tackle while you are there purchasing a new license. They also provide boat registration services. Please check with your local Fish and Wildlife license agent list to make sure your local Ace Hardware is on the list or give them a call.

Does Rural King Sell Fishing Licenses

If a Rural King is close to you, you are in luck. You can buy a fishing license at your local Rural King. Same rules apply as any license agent and you can pick up some fishing tackle while you are there. Check with your state’s Fish and Game department to make sure your Rural King is a license agent or call Rural King ahead of time.

Does Walmart Sell Fishing Licenses

Yes Walmart does sell fishing licenses. Not only does almost every walmart have a decent fishing department you can pick up a license along with your night crawlers. So next time you are in Wally World looking for a new lure to try, make sure your license is still valid and buy a new one if it’s expired or you don’t already have one.

Does Academy Sports and Outdoors Sell Fishing License

You can buy a fishing license from any Academy Sports and Outdoors. Academy is the outdoor sports capital wherever it is and it would be a shame if you couldn’t.

Does Dick’s Sporting Goods Sell Fishing Licenses

Yes, most Dick’s Sporting Goods do sell fishing licenses. While a large number of Dick’s has phased out their hunting and fishing sections, there are still a good number of them out there that still has a fishing department and are license agents. Check your state’s list of license agents to make sure your local Dick’s Sporting Goods is a license agent or give them a call.

Does Tractor Supply Sell Fishing Licenses

No, Tractor Supply does not sell fishing licenses. While you can get a large variety of fishing tackle and equipment including very affordable kayaks. You cannot purchase a license at Tractor Supply.

Does Meijer Sell Fishing Licenses

Yes, you can purchase your fishing license from Meijer. Head to the sporting goods department of your local Meijer and purchase the license you would like to have. You can also pick up a few bass lures while you are there.

Fishing License Information by State

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources  
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Division of Fish & Wildlife
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Nevada Department of Wildlife
New Hampshire Fish & Game Department
New Jersey Division of Fish, Game & Wildlife
New Mexico Game and Fish Department
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
North Dakota Game & Fish Department
Ohio Division of Wildlife
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
Rhode Island Division of Fish & Wildlife
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (freshwater)
Virginia Marine Resources Commission (saltwater)
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wyoming Fish & Game Department