What Age Do You Have To Be To Get A Fishing License

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Angling is one of the most common hobbies. People of all ages practice this ancient art, and this massive community keeps growing. However, owning a rod doesn’t give you the right to fish as you please. There are certain rules that you must follow to keep the impact of the fishing activity at bay

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One of these rules is the fishing license. While most anglers need one, certain people don’t. Who doesn’t need one depends on certain things, such as their age. So, how old do I have to be to need a fishing license? This is the most common question among anglers, especially those who plan on fishing with their son or daughter. The minimum age at which you need a license changes from state to state. But normally, all anglers younger than 16 don’t need one. Similarly, in some states, the elderly are also exempt from this requirement

Even though youngsters and some elderly don’t need a license, they must obey the remaining fishing regulations. That is the minimum size, daily bag, maximum number of lines in the water, allowed baits, and others. Now, because we know that this could be a little confusing, we’ve taken the time to gather some info that, we think, will answer all your questions.

At What Age Can I Get My First License? 

Because the elderly are not exempt in all states, we will focus this first section on young anglers, as all states have rules that release them from needing a license to fish. However, this requirement changes depending on where you are planning to fish. Therefore, make sure to check the local laws to determine whether or not you need a license. 

Here, you have a table of each state organized by age from which the angler will need a fishing license. 


New Mexico
West Virginia
New Hampshire
New Jersey 
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota 

As you can see, in most states, if you are 16 or older, you must purchase a fishing license. But in others, such as Alaska and Indiana, you can fish without one until you are 18 years old. However, you do need to carry a valid ID at all times. This way, an officer can verify that you are, indeed, exempt.

Keep in mind that not needing a license doesn’t mean that you can fish as you please. You must follow all other regulations regardless of your age. You or your guardian will get into trouble otherwise. The good thing is that youngsters have their daily bag limit, which means that they don’t need a guardian with a license to harvest fish. Additionally, there are some extra rules that you should follow. For example, some states only permit fishing with a rod and line. Similarly, some states require the presence of a parent or legal guardian. 

If you wish to teach or help your son or daughter, you do require a license. Even when he or she doesn’t. Help includes bating, removing hooks, netting a fish, and reeling the line. In short, you must have a valid license if you wish to help in any way.

Can Young Anglers Purchase Fishing Licenses? 

Of course, they can. Remember that the exception is merely a privilege. You can choose whether you pay it or not. If you do, you will be contributing to the local conservation found. Nothing will happen if you don’t, so don’t worry. 

Can I Still Fish With a License If I’m Older?

There are certain situations under which you can fish without a license. Even if you are older than the age shown above. For example, all states offer free fishing days, when everyone can fish without a license. Similarly, veterans, people with disabilities, and people fishing in a family homestead are exempt from this requirement

Additionally, there are specific areas where you can fish without a license. Make sure to check all this information to avoid any trouble. 

Are The Elderly Exempt? 

Strange as it might sound, not all states offer free fishing to the elderly. For example, in New York, all people above 70 years old must have a license. Yet, the prices are a lot cheaper than a regular license. For example, a regular yearly license costs around 50 bucks in New York. But any angler with over 70 years only needs to pay 5. A hell of a deal if you ask us. 

Another example is Maine. Here, all anglers about 70 can purchase a lifetime license for merely 8 dollars. The same applies to Pennsylvania, where you can get it once you reach 65 years. 

But in Florida, all seniors above 65 don’t require a license to fish. Similarly, all residents with 90 or more years don’t need to carry a license in Minnesota. As you can see, the age, as well as the privileges, changes from state to state. Hence, make sure to check the laws before your trip. 

All these age limits apply for both fresh and saltwater. But keep in mind that you might need a license to fish for certain species that are protected, regardless of your age. 

Resident Vs Non-resident Anglers

An important difference is that both discounts and exceptions for the elderly only apply to residents. Thus, make sure that your ID shows both your age and proof of residence. You will get a ticket if you don’t fail to comply, and you will get treated as if you were fishing without a license

Things are different for young anglers. In this case, they can enjoy this benefit. But the age might change from the one shown in the table above. For example, in Alaska, all residents under 18 don’t require a license. But you must get one if you are a non-resident with over 15 years old. 

The state of Connecticut, among others, doesn’t distinguish between residents and non-residents. Again, check the website from the local wildlife department to avoid any uncomfortable situation. You can find all the links in the table above; we’ve got your back. 

Where Can I Purchase a Fishing License?

There are several places where you can purchase a fishing license. You can get it directly from the local tax office or wildlife department. But you can also get them at sports stores, Walmart, and online retailers. However, keep in mind that there are certain licenses that you can’t get online. For example, some states only sell their lifetime fishing permits on brick and mortar stores. 

Youngsters Need No License

Young anglers might not need a fishing license for being allowed to fish. The age limit is different depending on the state. For example, all people over 10 years old need a license to fishing in the state of Arizona. Things are different if you live in Texas. Here, you can fish without a permit until 16. 

As you can see, the age requirement changes greatly depending on where you are. Still, all anglers younger than 16 can fish on most states without needing a fishing license. But they need to show an ID  And sometimes they require the presence of an adult. Furthermore, if that adult wishes to help, he or she must have a valid fishing license. 

Nevertheless, all anglers, regardless of their age, must comply with all the other regulations, such as daily bag limits. The good news is your anglers don’t need to place the fish under an adult license. 

If you are older than the maximum age we’ve shown before, don’t worry, you simply have to wait until you are 65, 70, or 89 in some cases (a little humor doesn’t hurt). You can enjoy some benefits once you hit that age. For example, some states offer free fishing and amazing discounts on licenses for their elderly. But you need to provide proof of residence in order to get them.

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