Do Kids Need a Fishing License? What You Need to Know

Canva Adorable baby on river with fishing rod and fishing

Teaching young anglers can be a blast. But it’s important to follow your local laws in regards to fishing licenses. For one, the money from fishing licenses goes to conservation efforts, making sure generations to come can enjoy time in the wild and fishing.

Plus, following local rules and regulations ensures that the fish population stays healthy and sustainable. But the question remains: do kids need a fishing license?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. It depends on where you’re fishing. Some states, like Arizona, require anyone over ten years old to have a fishing license. Other states, such as Oregon, require that those between 12 and 17 have a youth fishing license.

In this article, you’ll learn about the most notable states regarding kids’ fishing licenses, how to find information about your state’s laws, and why it’s good to have them when required.

Why Licenses and Laws Are Important

For most states, the cutoff age is 16. However, it’s best not to assume. You can see a list of the different state wildlife agencies here. While most anglers casting in remote areas don’t run into game inspectors or conservation officers, it’s important to teach your kids to follow the correct laws. Most licenses are affordable, and they help keep fishing and wildlife areas available for public use.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fishing licenses alone generated over $700 million in 2018. All of that money went to conservation and restoration efforts.

But that’s only one stream of income for conservation efforts. The Sport Fish Restoration project uses excise taxes from importers and manufacturers of sport fishing equipment to make sure you, your kids, and their kids can enjoy fishing in the great outdoors. State agencies use these funds for restoration projects in a system that has been operating since the 1950s.

So the next time you buy fishing equipment and licenses, you’re helping to support your ability to fish in public areas.

Different Age Limits

As I mentioned before, in most states, kids under 16 can fish without getting a license. However, if you’re going to be teaching your kid to fish, you’ll want to get a license for yourself. Even if you’re not planning on casting a line, many states require that the parent or guardian have the proper documentation for fishing.

If you don’t have a license, you’ll be taking a chance when you help your young one with their fishing. Better to have one just in case. Otherwise, you could be facing a hefty fine for fishing without a license. 

Typical Fishing License Costs

In most states where those 16 or over must have fishing licenses, you’ll find that there is no difference in costs. Other states, however, offer discounts on licenses for minors. These can range from a couple of dollars for a day license to $40 or $50 for an annual pass. Many factors determine how much fishing permits cost, and they vary state by state. 

Here are a couple of examples:


The population density is so low, and the wildlife so abundant in Alaska, that they don’t require residents under 18 to acquire a sport fishing license. In fact, they don’t require residents under 18 to have a hunting or trapping license, either.

If you’re a non-resident, kids under 16 don’t have to have a fishing license, but they have to have a hunting and trapping license. For Alaskan residents, an annual fishing license runs $29. For non-residents, it’s $145.


Other states that have the option for freshwater and saltwater fishing have specific permits for each. In Florida, the freshwater license costs look like this:

  • Resident Annual: $17.00
  • Resident Five-Year: $79.00
  • Non-Resident Annual: $47.00
  • Non-Resident 3-Day: $17.00
  • Non-Resident 7-Day: $30.00

And their saltwater fishing permits are as follows:

  • Resident Annual: $17.00
  • Resident Five-Year: $79.00
  • Non-Resident Annual: $47.00
  • Non-Resident 3-Day: $17.00
  • Non-Resident 7-Day: $30.00


In California, you can purchase a lifetime license for one large sum, ranging from $562 to $919, depending on the age of the licensee. Plus, since California has a big coastline, there are many different fishing license options. Kids under 16 can fish for free, but those over 16 will need a permit.

  • Resident Annual Sport Fishing: $51.02
  • Non-Resident Annual Sport Fishing: $137.73
  • One-Day Sport Fishing: $16.76
  • Two-Day Sport Fishing: $25.66
  • Non-Resident Ten-Day Sport Fishing: $51.02

California also has discounted rates for veterans, low-income seniors and Native Americans, and disabled people. They also require you to purchase a report card if you’re catching certain types of fish and other water-dwellers. A few of these include spiny lobster, sturgeon, steelhead, and salmon. Anyone catching these fish in California must have a report card, even kids under 16. 

If you’re fishing off a public pier in California, you don’t need a license, no matter how old you are. But make sure you don’t need a report card for the kinds of fish you’re catching!

In Conclusion

As you can see, license requirements and regulations vary widely from state to state. Plus, different areas have size and catch limits on certain types of fish – even for those who aren’t required to get a license. If you have kids under 18 and want to fish, hunt, and trap for free, take a trip to Alaska. Just watch out for bears!

If you’re going to do just a couple of days of sport fishing, take your kids to California, where you can pay a small fee for yourself and fish in fresh or saltwater. In fact, many states offer low prices on temporary fishing licenses, for those quick fishing trips. 

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to determine what the regulations are in any given state. Here’s a list of websites for every state from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can either get information online or call the appropriate office. In my experience, people are accommodating and happy to give you all the information you need to take your kids fishing.

Justin Childress

Justin Childress is the creator of He is also a devoted husband and father of his 1-year-old son Gabriel. Justin enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, of course, contributing to Read more about me or follow me on Pinterest to stay connected.

Recent Posts