We talk to many of our friends and people we meet online about fishing. One question we often get asked is, “Do I need a license to get fishing?”. In this article, we’ll be answering that question in detail, which includes:
- Do you need a fishing license
- Why you need a fishing license
- What happens if you get caught without a license
- Where Can I Buy a License
So by the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to get your reel ready and get fishing.
Do You Need a License To Go Fishing?
Yes, you definitely need a license to go fishing in all states of the US. If you’re reading this from somewhere else, it’s also highly likely that you need a license. Getting caught without one can result in hefty fines, or even worse, as you’ll see later in this article.
Why You Need a License
So, why do you need a fishing license? It’s not like the government owns the sea, right?
Well, the money that we pay towards the license doesn’t just go into the government’s pocket. Instead, wildlife agencies use that money to maintain and restore the natural habitats of the fish populations. This allows us to keep our fun (and tasty) tradition while protecting the aquatic life.
With the fishing license, you have to keep in mind other regulations too. For example, there are limits to the species you can catch or the amount you can keep in a day. Again, this is part of the processes that help protect the fish populations. The fishing license also funds the research that goes into getting the numbers right to maintain the ideal fish populations.
Plus, the money is actually going towards a good cause and helping us all, so there really isn’t any reason not to get a fishing license. Besides, you can also get fined heavily, or in some cases, get worse penalties for not having one.
What If You Get Caught Without a Fishing License
The laws around fishing are always state-specific, meaning it would be quite hard to give you an exact consequence of not having your fishing license.
If you’re lucky and it’s your first offense, you will only be warned and your fish will be confiscated. However, in many cases, you will also receive a fine of up to $500, depending on the state and the offense. In some extreme cases, for example, after several offences, you may even face jail time, although this is very rare. Plus, if there is any court involvement, you’ll have to pay for that too, so it’s really not worth it.
Some people might say that these fines are hefty, as the fish is wildlife. However, it’s important to consider that the money from fishing licenses goes towards maintaining the fish population. And, if nobody would pay it, then we’d be harmed from a damaged environment.
Where Can I Buy a Fishing License
So, you’ve probably got our point by now that a fishing license is essential if you want to go fishing. But, where do you even buy one?
This also varies from state to state. However, the two options that should be available to every state are purchasing it online and Walmart. To buy a fishing license online, visit this link, select a state and fill out the needed information.
Or, you can also head over to your local Walmart, as they sell them there too. However, the online fishing license has the advantage that you can easily print it out again if it gets damaged or you lose it. At Walmart, you’ll have to purchase a replacement, although these usually only cost $4.
How Much Does a Fishing License Cost?
The price varies based on the period that you buy the fishing license for, and a few other factors. The longer the period, the smaller the cost per day. If you think you’ll be fishing a lot, there is even a lifetime option that you can purchase once and have forever.
To give you a better idea of the cost, below are the general prices we got from Walmart:
- One day license: $11
- Three-day license: $19
- Annual: $40
However, keep in mind there are also discounts for veterans, disabled, active military personnel, seniors, and children under 16 (or 14). Or, in some states, they will not require a license. However, that all depends on the state, so make sure to check if those apply to you.
If you accompany a fishing child, you will usually only have to get a license for them. Again, make sure to double-check this with your state’s regulations, though.
Is My Fishing License Valid Everywhere In The U.S?
No. Your fishing license will only be valid for the bodies of water in your state. The rules vary from state to state, so you may need to get several licenses if you go fishing in several states. That being said, often, when states share waters, they also share licenses.
However, it’s always worth checking before going on your fishing trip.
To finish off this article on whether you need a fishing license, we just wanted to show you some data that we found online.
In 2018, fishing license sales generated over $700 million across the US. And 100% of these funds go directly toward conversation and restoration.
These funds are used for:
- land acquisition
- fish management
- species and habitat restoration
- habitat protection
- public access
These processes help all of us, so we cannot stress how essential a fishing license is. Additionally, there are also minor taxes on the sale of fishing equipment and fishing-related items, which also goes towards these purposes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions that this article did not cover.
I’m Fishing on Private Property – Do I Still Need a Fishing License?
This is again state-dependant. In a lot of cases, you won’t need a fishing license. However, you will still have to ensure that you are following the rules and regulations. That being said, some states may require a fishing license, even on private property.
I Want To Catch and Release – Do I Still Need a Fishing License?
In most states, you will still need a fishing license, as you are still using the waters, and you also benefit from the protection of the fish population. The reason you’re paying for the fishing license is also not only the population control but also the upkeep of the area in general.
What Else Do I Need To Keep In Mind Before Going Fishing?
If you have a boat, you’ll also need to get it registered. This can also be done through the same website we mentioned earlier.
Apart from that, ensure that you have all your gear with you. That includes your fishing gear, sun protection, and safety equipment such as life vests if you’re fishing on a boat. And, make sure to keep hydrated too!
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