Fishing is a favorite pastime of many in the United States. While it is indeed a fun and relaxing activity, you need fishing licenses to go fishing. Whether it’s a California fishing license you are looking for or in any other state, these fishing licenses serve as a legal or regulatory mechanism to control fishing activities.

Who Needs a California Fishing License?

Anyone aged 16 and above, who wishes to go fishing, needs to get a California fishing license, and this covers both saltwater and freshwater. This is applicable for both residents as well as non-residents, regardless of whether you’re fishing with a guide or on a for-hire charter boat. However, some cases do not require a license. You will need no license on public piers, Free Fishing Days, and for anyone below the age of 16. You may need a report card for some species, though.

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How Much Does a California Fishing License Cost?

A California fishing license can be bought for a duration of anywhere between one day to one year. The cost of one and two-day licenses are the same whether you’re a resident or not. Annual licenses do cost more for non-residents, though. Non-residents can opt for a 10-day license as well. The cost of a one-day license is $16.46 for both residents and non-residents. Two days’ licenses cost $25.66 for residents and non-residents. A 10-day license is not applicable for residents and costs $51.02 for non-residents. An annual fishing license of California will cost $51.02 for the residents and $137.73 for non-residents.

The residents of California always have the option to buy a Lifetime Fishing License. This entails that you get a new annual fishing license every year for as long as you keep fishing. Lifetime Fishing Licenses can be bought at a CDFW sales office, and the variety of the cost depends on the age of the person fishing. The cost of a California fishing license costs $562.25 for 0-9 Years of Lifetime License, $919.00 for 10-39 years of a Lifetime License, $828.00 for 40-61 years of a Lifetime License, and $562.25 for 62+ years of a Lifetime License. Sport fishers can also purchase a package of $380.25 with Fishing Privilege. The package comprises a Steelhead Report Card, North Coast Salmon Report Card, Second-Rod Stamp, and Ocean Enhancement Stamp, all of which will be valid for a lifetime.

Reduced-Fee California Fishing Licenses

California fishing licenses can be available at a reduced fee for various situations. This includes people with developmentally disabled, blind, mobility impaired, recovering veterans, disabled, and low-income seniors. Discounted California fishing licenses can be available for as low as $8.

In order to apply for a reduced-fee California fishing license, you can just fill in the right form and submit it to the CDFW along with all the necessary evidence. Disabled veterans, for instance, will require a letter from the Veteran’s Administration. The letter includes that they are honorably discharged and have a service-connected disability rating of 50% or higher.

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Where Can You Buy a California Fishing License?

You can buy a California fishing license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, either at one of the license sales offices or online. You can find sport fishing licenses at licensed retailers, local tackle shops, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Walmart. Remember that the CDFW offices do not accept cash payments.

How to Replace a Lost California Fishing License?

If you lose your California fishing license, you can acquire a replacement online and also get one from the CDFW license sales offices. Second Rod Validations  and Replacement Ocean Enhancement cost $3.24, and Duplicate Sport Fishing Licenses cost $11.37. The cost is $16.22 for Replacement Sturgeon Report Cards. And, you can find them only at the license sales offices of CDFW.

What is the Validity of California Fishing Licenses Valid?

If you buy a California fishing license ahead of time, the one-day, two-days, and 10-day licenses can be used from a date of your choice or the date of purchase. The validity of annual licenses lasts during the calendar year of purchase. This means that no matter when you buy it, the expiry date of the annual license will be 31st of December of the current year.

Can You Use a California Fishing License to Fish Interstate Waters?

California shares various fishing spots with the neighboring states, such as the Colorado River, Topaz Lake, and Lake Tahoe. A California sportfishing license is valid in all of these places. One can fish in Topaz Lake or Lake Tahoe with a Nevada license and a Trout stamp. Anyone who fishes on the Colorado River along the California-Arizona border can have either an Arizona or California fishing license.

Should a California Fishing License be Visible While Fishing?

California fishing licenses need not be visible while fishing anymore. You just need to ensure it is with you while you fish.


Fishing is a quiet yet a joyful activity. Check out the places where you are fishing and get the necessary documentation before you take this trip.

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