CALIFORNIA FISHING LICENSES
In California, anyone age 16 or above is required to get a sport fishing license to take any fish, shellfish, reptile, or amphibian in the state. The license requirement, like other fishing regulations, is intended to protect fish populations and ensure good fishing opportunities for future generations.
It’s important to note that you don’t need a license if you’re fishing from a public pier in ocean waters. Additionally, the state offers two free fishing days each year, allowing anglers to try sport fishing without obtaining a license. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website lists these dates.
TYPES OF FISHING LICENSES
When fishing in California, you have several options for obtaining a fishing license, depending on where you live and how many days you expect to fish.
- Annual Licenses (valid January 1 through December 31 or for the remainder of the year if purchased after January 1)
- Resident Sport Fishing License
- Nonresident Sport Fishing License
- Short-Term Licenses
- One-day Sport Fishing License
- Two-Day Sport Fishing License
- Ten-Day Nonresident Sport Fishing License
- Lifetime Licenses
In California, a resident is considered anyone who has resided continuously in the state for six months or more immediately prior to the date of their license application, anyone on active military duty, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps.
In addition to residents and nonresidents, certain anglers can purchase reduced-fee licenses if they qualify. These include disabled veterans, recovering service members, low-income seniors, low-income Native Americans, and mobility impaired, blind, or developmentally disabled individuals.
FISHING LICENSE FEES
The current California annual fishing license fees for 2021 are $52.66 for residents and $142.05 for nonresidents.
For short-term licenses, the fees are as follows:
- One-day Sport Fishing License: $17.02
- Two-Day Sport Fishing License: $26.49
- Ten-Day Nonresident Sport Fishing License: $52.56
The fee for a lifetime fishing license varies based on age:
- 0-9: $579.25
- 10-39: $946.75
- 40-61: $853
- 62+: $579.25
The fees contribute to managing the state's fish and wildlife resources and providing enjoyable fishing experiences to the public. They are subject to adjustment each year based on inflation or deflation. It’s important to note that any fees paid for a license are non-refundable.
WHERE TO BUY A CALIFORNIA FISHING LICENSE
Any type of resident or nonresident fishing license can be purchased online through the CDFW website, at license agents located throughout the state, or at one of the 10 CDFW license sales offices. In case your license is lost or destroyed, a license agent or CDFW license sales office can help you obtain a duplicate sport fishing license.
CARING FOR A FISHING LICENSE
Since there is a small fee to get a replacement license, it's important to take care and protect your license. Licenses should never be heat laminated as it will destroy the license. If exposed to extreme heat, the license may darken and become discolored. However, a discolored license is still valid as long as it remains readable. While a fishing license doesn't have to be worn, it should be kept in your immediate possession while fishing, except when diving.