Fishing License Requirements

Each U.S. state is allowed to have their own set of rules and regulations for fishing public and private bodies of water. These steps demonstrate how to research what sort of license is required for you to fish in the state of your choice.

Do I Need a License?

  1. Decide which state you want to go fishing.
  2. Search the internet for the state parks department or fish and wildlife service website for your desired state.
  3. Locate the state regulations for fishing. If the website does not list the information you need, call the appropriate department. We have found that all licensing requirements, fees, and regulations can be found online, but sometimes it’s difficult to find the right government page.
  4. If you’d rather buy the license at a licensed dealer, then look for a list on the state licensing page.
  5. Purchase the necessary license for the type of fishing you want to enjoy.


  • Most states generally require a fishing license for all public waters. Fishing holes surrounded by private land generally do not need a fishing license, however you must obtain permission from landowners to fish on private bodies of water.
  • Some public fishing piers and docks offer free fishing to the general public and a license is not required. You still need to follow the posted fishing regulations.
  • Many states offer “free fishing days” when a license is not required. This is a great time to try out fishing with your family (to see if they like it) and to get them excited about it.
  • Each state requires a specific license. You cannot use the same license in multiple states. And there is no such thing as a National Fishing License.
  • Note that many states now require a Boater’s Education Card to operate a boat on public waters. This is not a trivial thing as the tests can be time-consuming so plan ahead if you need one.

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