How to Get a Fishing License

In this handy Q&A article, Fishing Expert Adam Fox shares the answers to common questions about getting a fishing license to help out the beginner fishing community!

A man fishes off of a pier with waves crashing in the background. Painted in black on the white railing of the pier is "DO NOT FEED BIRDS."

Pismo Beach Pier, California. Photo by Austin Neill

Hello to all my fellow fishermen and women out there! Over the course of my 20-year fishing obsession, I have noticed that fishing is becoming an increasingly popular sport with every passing season. I’m happy to see more people sharing the love for the water that I have come to feel throughout my life, but I know that this also leaves more people stumped with the questions that naturally come along with being a beginner. Out of my love and passion for this sport and lifestyle, I put together a handy Q&A article to help out the beginner fishing community!

How to get a fishing license?

In order to get a fishing license, especially for the first time, you will need to have your photo I.D., social security number, address, and payment ready to go. Once you enter all of your information into the system, whether online or in person, you will get your personal identification number from the fish and game commission in your area permitting you to fish for your chosen amount of time.

Where to get a fishing license?

Fortunately, finding a fishing license is typically a fairly easy process. In a lot of places, you can get them at your local sporting goods store right at the checkout counter near the outdoor section. Another method is to go to the closest courthouse and purchase your license there. In some places, cerian species need extra permits in order to be harvested and, in some cases, targeted at all.

How much does a fishing license cost?

Fishing license cost varies depending on where you are fishing and sometimes what you are fishing for. In some situations, paying for a pier or charter includes the fishing license cost for the time you are there.

How much is a fishing license in California?

Fishing licenses in California cost $52.66 for residents and $142.05 for non-residents during the 2021 season. License costs and fishing regulations change frequently, so it is crucial to stay updated! When fishing freshwater, there is a $16.46 “second-rod validation” permit, allowing you to use two rods where the water is not designated as an "artificial bait only" area.

How much is a fishing license in Colorado?

In Colorado, there is free fishing the first full weekend of June. Otherwise, a $10.40 habitat stamp is required with your first fishing (or hunting) license purchase of the year. The fishing license costs are as follows:

  • $51.68 for resident-only small game and fishing license (hunter education card required)
  • $32.95 for non-resident-only 5-day fishing license
  • $14.23 for resident 1-day fishing license
  • $17.35 for non-resident 1-day fishing license
  • $10.07 for resident youth (16-17 years old)
  • $11.11 for second-rod stamp (any angler)
Someone stands on a riverbank, partially obscure by fall foliage, and fly fishes. In the distance, the steep sides of the river are dusted with snow.

Gunnison River, CO. Photo by Jarrett Mills

How much is a Minnesota fishing license?

In Minnesota, it is $25 for the resident annual fishing license. The non-resident cost for a fishing license in Minnesota is $52 for an individual and $69 for a family. It is $15 for a day, $37 for 72 hours, and $44 for 7 days worth of fishing for non-residents.

How much is a fishing license in Virginia?

In Virginia, the resident costs of freshwater licenses are $23, $44, $65, and $86 for 1, 2, 3, or 4 years of fishing, respectively. The freshwater/saltwater combo is $39.50, and the saltwater alone is $17.50. A 5-day fresh/saltwater license is $24 while a 10-day saltwater license is $10. Being a resident of Virginia Beach, I also know that fish like striped bass and cobia require additional permits, as well as a certain number of crab pots.

The non-resident licenses are as follows:

  • $47 for freshwater fishing (plus an additional $47 trout permit Oct. 1 through June 15 if you plan to fish in designated trout waters)
  • $25 for saltwater fishing
  • $71 for fresh/saltwater fishing
  • $8 for 1-day and $21 for 5-day freshwater fishing
  • $10 for 10-day saltwater fishing
  • $31 for 5-day fresh/saltwater fishing

At what age do you need a fishing license?

In most places, fishermen 15 years of age and younger are exempt from needing a fishing license. Hold onto your youth while you can, kids! When we make it to the age when we are supposed to be “wise,” senior and senior lifetime licenses become available. Basically, between 16 and 65 you need a regular fishing license in most places.

At what age do you need a fishing license in Texas?

In the big ol’ state of Texas, anglers are granted an extra year of free fishing, because no license is required until the age of 17. This applies to residents and non-residents, but after that, you gotta pay the piper to get those lines wet. Remember though, the money for licenses goes to conservation efforts!!

How much is a lifetime fishing license?

The price of a lifetime fishing license is different in different locations and at different ages. To keep things simple, I put together a list of lifetime license prices for the states I covered above.

Lifetime License Costs

  • California: Residents only! $579.25 (Ages 0-9), $946.75 (Ages 10-39), $853 (Ages 40-61), $579.25 (Ages +62).
  • Colorado: Residents only! $22.18 (Ages +65), $9.85 (Low income, ages +64).
  • Minnesota: Residents $344 (3 or younger), $469 (Ages 4-15), $574 (Ages 16-50), $439 (Ages +51). Non-Residents $821 (3 or younger), $1046 (Ages 4-15), $1191 (Ages 16-50), $794 (Ages +51).
  • Virginia: Residents (Fresh/Saltwater) $0/$0 (Ages 2-11), $265/$276 (Ages 44 and under), $215/$132 (Ages 45-50), $165/$99 (Ages 51-55), $115/$66 (Ages 56-60), $65/$35 (Ages 61-64), $25/$5 or FIP registration (Ages +65). Non-Residents (Fresh/Saltwater) $0/$0 (Under 12), $580/$500 (Ages 44 and under), $580/$240 (Ages 45-50), $580/$180 (Ages 51-55), $580/$120 (Ages 56-60), $580/$60 (Ages 60-64), $580/Not Available (Ages +65).

If you need information for your particular location, you should be able to find it easily online on the local government website. Of course, you can always come to me or a fellow Fishing Expert directly to get all sorts of fishing tips and advice well beyond just getting your license! I’m hoping that the personal knowledge and research that I’ve put into this short article will help you continue your fishing voyage with smooth sailing. Until next time, good luck and fins up!

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Written By
Adam Fox
Adam Fox
Conventional Fishing Expert
I've been fishing and hunting as long as I can remember, and it has always been the thing I'm most passionate about! I've been in sales for many years; my previous job was working in a beer distributor, but now I get to sell fishing gear and improve the wonderful company that we call Curated! I real...
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