Where to Get a Fishing License? And How to Get It?

Fishing is an exciting and fun activity that anyone can enjoy. However, it’s important to know whether you need a fishing license or not. If you do need a fishing license, where do you get it? Where to get a fishing license?

In most states, fishing licenses can be purchased online, by phone, or at various retail establishments. Buying a fishing license is quick, easy, and contributes directly toward conservation efforts.

Let’s get to know more about how, why, and where to get a fishing license through this article.

Where to Get a Fishing License?

where to get fishing license

It’s fairly easy to get a fishing license. In most cases, it just involves visiting your local parks and wildlife bureau, filling out an application, and paying the necessary fee. You will receive your license within an hour.

No matter the state you are in, you can see a list of parks and wildlife bureaus where you can get a fishing license on this page at BassPro.com.

If you’re in Canada, you can see a list of various retailers where you can get a fishing license on this page at Outdoorcanada.ca.

Some convenience stores and bait shops near popular fishing locations also let you buy regular fishing licenses. In some retail stores, it can take a couple of days to get your fishing license.

Can you get a fishing license at Walmart? Walmart sells fishing licenses legally all over the United States. The fishing license cost will depend on the state where you live or where you want to fish.

You can get a non-resident license if you don’t live in that state.

Depending on the state where you live, the fees can range from $2.50 to $100. This will depend on the type of license you are applying for and the length of the permit’s validity.

There are also certain conditions that you may meet if you want to be allowed to fish without even needing a license.

However, before going to a retailer or the parks and wildlife office, determine whether you qualify for the license.

For example, if you are not over 16 years of age, you are not required to have a fishing license, but that does not mean you are exempt from the local fishing regulations as mandated by your state.

Do You Need a Fishing License? (Some General Guidelines)

Before you apply for a fishing license, determine if you must have one at all. Note that there are instances when you do not need a license to forego the fees and not get in trouble with parks and wildlife.

Again, it will depend on your state, so you should double-check with your local park and wildlife’s website.

Fishing on a Licensed Preserve

Fishing preserves are privately owned bodies of water that the proprietors regularly stock with fish. However, just like fishing in the wild, they are not open all year round. These places must take a break to let the fry have enough time to mature.

Although you do not need a fishing license to fish in a fishing preserve, you have to pay a fee upon entrance. Some of them also limit the number of fish that you can catch for the day.

Fishing During a Free Fishing Weekend

Most states provide free fishing weekends wherein anyone can fish in the local freshwaters even if they do not have a license. If you are a beginner at fishing, it would be best to schedule your first trip on one of these free weekends.

You can check if any free fishing weekends are coming up in your state by checking the parks and wildlife office website.

A Farmer Fishing Within Your Property

If you are a landowner who uses your property for agriculture, you do not need a fishing license if you will be doing it in rivers that cut through your land. This privilege also extends to your immediate family, if you have any.

Native Americans Fishing Within the Bounds of their Reservation

This is pretty much self-explanatory, and this condition works like the one previously mentioned. If there is a river cutting through the preservation or a lake or any other freshwater body within the boundaries, Native American residents need not apply for a license.

Do You Qualify for a Free Fishing License?

If you do need a fishing license, you might not need to pay for it at all, or at least not pay the full price, if you fit the following qualifications:

  • You are in the military (active)
  • You’re a military veteran with at least a 40% disability.
  • You are 70 years old or older.
  • You are legally blind.

What Responsibilities Come with the Fishing License?

If you have successfully acquired your fishing license, you should be aware of the responsibilities and limitations.

Here are just a few that you have to keep in mind all the time:

Always Have Your License with You

Your license should be with you any time you will be fishing, even on the days when you do not need it. Remember that you will never know when you will get the urge to cast out your line.

Display Your License When Authorities Request You To

where to get a fishing license

If a police officer, wildlife officer, or the owner of the land where you plan to fish in asks that you show your license, you should always display it. Failing to do so will lead to a citation. More on this later.

Do Not Access Private Property Without Permission

A fishing license does not give you the authority to fish in just any body of water that you want. If the river, pond, lake, or anybody of waterfalls within someone’s private property, you will need to get the owner’s permission or the lessee.

Ensure Your License Contains Your Correct Information

Carefully examine your license as soon as you receive it. If there is an error in any of the information, have it corrected immediately. Any license with incorrect information is automatically deemed invalid.

Do Not Let Other People Use Your License

Fishing licenses are non-transferable. No one else but the owner can use them. However, if a non-license holder is on a fishing trip with someone who does have a license, one is usually enough for both persons.

Follow the Harvesting Limits and Fishing Regulations

You are the one responsible for knowing the harvest limits, seasons, and fishing regulations in your state before you go. Ignorance of the regulations is not an excuse. You are ultimately the one responsible for educating yourself about them.

What Is the Purpose of a Fishing License?

Why do you need a fishing license anyway? Other than not getting into trouble with the parks and wildlife rangers, why are anglers required to get a license?

There are quite a lot of valid reasons why this is required, including, but not limited to:

1. For Stocking Lakes and Streams

Part of the money generated via fishing licenses’ sales goes towards re-stocking water bodies that have sparse populations of fish. By getting a license, you are doing your part in ensuring that you will have more fish to catch in the following seasons.

2. For Habitat Programs

There are not that many people who volunteer to clean up the trash and debris that litter the local waterways, so part of the money from license sales goes through paying the wages of the people tasked to do the cleanups.

Aside from taxpayer money, the state also supplements the people cleaning the local forests and waterways from game license sales.

3. To Help Regulate the Number of Fish Harvested

If everyone had the freedom to fish as much as they want, you would see a mass extinction event wherein dozens of fish are harvested into oblivion.

By providing fishing licenses and instructing the holders regarding the maximum number of fish they can legally catch, the size limits, and the right time for fishing, you can prevent that from happening.

4. For Funding Research and Conservation Efforts

Some of the proceeds from license sales go into water and fish surveys to determine the ecosystems’ health. These can also help develop conservation procedures to ensure that the fish and other wildlife’s natural habitats would still be there for future generations to enjoy.

Again, where to buy a fishing license? In most states, fishing licenses can be purchased online, by phone, or at various retail establishments. Buying a fishing license is quick, easy, and contributes directly toward conservation efforts.

In most states, you can visit your local parks and wildlife bureau, fill out an application, and pay the necessary fee. You should receive your license within an hour.

What Are the Different Types of Fishing Licenses?

So what kind of fishing licenses are now available for those who are interested in this activity? The most commonly used and requested ones are the following:

Saltwater, Freshwater, and All-Water Licenses

If you live in an area where there is both saltwater and freshwater fishing, you will need an appropriate license for the body of water you will be going to.

However, there are often 2-in-1 licenses that combine the perks of both saltwater and freshwater licenses. But note that those are obviously more expensive.

Fishing Guide License

This is a requirement for anyone who will be accompanying people as a guide to local fishing spots for monetary compensation. Regardless if you will be a full-time or part-time fishing guide, you will need the appropriate license to operate.

Shellfish License

If you have a commercial vessel and plan to harvest saltwater shellfish, you will need to procure an appropriate shellfish license. This will also permit the holder to harvest seaweed and local crabs.

What Happens When You’re Caught Fishing Without a License?

Although the penalties of fishing without the appropriate license might differ from state to state, the overall policies and fines are somewhat similar. It is best to check your local wildlife admin office to be sure.

If You Are Caught Fishing Without a Florida License

For instance, if you are caught fishing without a Florida license, that is considered a level one violation, a non-criminal offense. You will then be fined an amount equal to the license cost + $50. Get caught again within a three-year period, and the fine will increase to license cost + $100.

If a Wildlife Officer Catches You Fishing Without a License

If a wildlife officer catches you fishing without a license, you will be issued a ticket. Just like getting a traffic citation, signing the ticket would mean you accept that you made a mistake, but you are also within your rights to challenge it should you feel inclined to.

Should you decide to plead your case, it will be up to the county court to deem you guilty or not. They will also be the ones to decide the amount of the fine appropriate for the violation.

where to buy a fishing license

If you have a fishing license, but you could not present it to the wildlife officer at the citation time, you can present it to the county court, and the fine will be waived. You will only usually need to pay court fees amounting to $10.

If You Failed to Attend Your Hearing

If you failed to attend your hearing, pay the fine, or did not accept the ticket, then the county court will consider your offense as a second-degree misdemeanor. In that case, you will be facing up to 60 days of jail time and fined $500 on top of that.

If, for example, you were found guilty of constantly violating fishing without a license, the parks and wildlife officer can seize any of your property that they deem fit for the violation. On top of that, you will be facing up to a year in jail or a fine reaching $25,000.

Conclusion – Where Can I Get a Fishing License?

In most states, fishing licenses can be purchased online, by phone, or at certain retail establishments. Examples of retail shops where you can get a fishing license include:

  • Walmart,
  • Bass Pro Shop, and
  • Cabela’s.

Buying a fishing license is easy and contributes directly to conservation efforts.

If you are going on a fishing trip, it is worth your while to procure the necessary license. It certainly beats getting a ticket and paying a fine that is several times more expensive than the license’s actual cost.

However, it is also best to check your state policies on fishing as you might not even need to have a license, or you can get one for free.

Keep in mind, though, that the cost of a fishing license goes to protecting and conserving the fishing spots that you so love. So never think of it as a mandatory expense, but rather a contribution to ensure that you can enjoy your hobby for many years to come.

Related reading:

Walmart Fishing License Cost and How to Get One?

Fine for Fishing Without a License [How Much Is It?]

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