Angling 101: How to Get Your First Fishing License in the US

Before you cast your rod and line, step back and ask yourself: do you have your fishing license in US already?

License to fish is the government’s way to control, limit, and protect the fish population from exploiters. For instance, coastal states offer larger areas of fishing spots while landlocked countries can only provide small waters such as streams, lake, rivers, and basins. As such, it is vital to obtain an angling permit first to avoid trouble in the future as well as to enjoy the benefits it provides.

What are the Different Types of Fishing License in the US?

There are various government agencies, and they vary depending on the state you plan to do the activity. Moreover, each state’s license varies depending on different factors like the species of fish and the angler’s purpose of fishing.

To better understand, below are the three types of fishing license in the US:

  1. Recreational vs. Commercial Fishing Licenses. A lot of states categorize the fishing license they issue. And often, it is determined by the angler’s purpose. For instance, hobbyist fishers who have no intention to sell the fish can only get recreational fishing passes. While those who fish with the plan to sell what they capture to third parties are required to obtain a commercial fishing license, this way, the government can regulate and protect the fishing population.
  2. Resident vs. Non-resident Fishing Licenses. Another type of fishing pass is the resident and non-resident fishing licenses. If you plan to do the activity on your state, you only need to provide proof of residency as well as identity. On the one hand, those who love to fish in different location need to get a non-resident fishing pass. The only downside of this is that visitors are subject to pay a higher price compared to the locals.
  3. Saltwater vs. Freshwater Fishing Licenses. In the US, all states offer a license depending on the species of fish the fisher intends to catch: saltwater and freshwater angling passes. Some countries with both inland and coastal waters provide the permit. Hence, make sure what class of fish you want to catch before getting one to avoid mistakes and regrets.

How to Get It?

The license to fish is easy to obtain as long as you meet all the requirements a particular state is asking. And as an angler, you need to get yourself familiarized concerning the general eligibility conditions as well.

That said, here a few ways to get your fish license in the US:

  1. In person. For not-so-busy individuals, visiting an authorized agency or store is the quickest way to get a fishing license. It can be bought from a fishing equipment store, a sporting goods store, or local department offices. Make sure you have your ID, proof of residency with you, and other requirements they need.
  2. Online. Getting a fish to license through online is now possible. In fact, it is the most convenient and quickest way to obtain it, next to in person. And side from purchasing, you can also transact replacement and renewal of angling documents online. Just visit an official state department’s website that issues a fishing license, sign up a short form, and pay it using your credit or debit card. The license can then be printed immediately. Or if you wish, some states can deliver it to your doorstep.
  3. By phone. In some states, you can order a fishing license by ordering through calling an authorized agency. A representative will then ask for your personal information.
  4. Mail. For those who can’t order through phone or online, requesting a fish to license via mail is also possible in some states. Just send your application together with the requirements and the license fee.


Purchasing a license to fish is straightforward and easy.  And as a responsible angler, it is essential for all enthusiasts to comply to the government’s rules and regulations regarding fishing. Not because they are the government, but because it will help the industry to thrive further. So, before you start planning and preparing for your first or next activity, make sure you have your permit.

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