Fishing is an activity that unites people of all ages and allows us to connect with nature and its beauty. California, USA is home to several beautiful fishing spots such as Mono Lake, Honey Lake, Silverwood Lake, and Havasu Lake. But, before you head out to any of these incredible local hotspots, you’ll need a CA fishing permit. So, how much is a fishing license in California?
Take note: California state fishing licenses can be tricky to obtain. This is because there are regulations and requirements set by the local authorities, and they are constantly changing.
We’ll constantly update this article to help ensure you get the latest information on how to get a fishing license in California.
Who is Eligible to Acquire a Fishing License Online in California?
California saltwater fishing licenses and freshwater fishing licenses are available to residents and non-residents ages 16 and above.
The appropriate types of licenses are required for those who want to catch fish, invertebrates, crustaceans, reptiles, and amphibians in bodies of water or inland.
There are certain species that may require additional permits and other documentation. This is according to the state’s Natural Resources Agency.
Different Types of California Fishing Licenses
Let’s first talk about the kinds of fishing licenses available as each one has separate fees associated with it.
These are the annual fishing licenses that can be availed by those who plan on fishing in CA:
- Sport Fishing License for Residents: This license can be obtained by California residents only (for ages 16 and above).
- Sport Fishing License for Non-Residents: This fishing permit can be obtained by non-residents of California (for ages 16 and above).
- Sport Fishing License at a Reduced Fee (Disabled Veterans): Only applicable to applicants who are disabled veterans. The license can be obtained by residents and non-residents discharged honorably as disabled veterans with at least 50 percent significant service-related disability.
- Sport Fishing License at a Reduced Fee (Low-Income Senior): Starting January 2022, a sport fishing license can be obtained by low-income residents of California ages 65 and older at a reduced cost. Low-income seniors are eligible if they are also enrolled for Supplemental Security Income.
- FREE Sport Fishing Permit for Low-Income Native Americans: The license can be obtained by a Native American considered a California resident. The applicant must be financially unable to settle the fee that’s associated with one (1) resident sport fishing permit.
- FREE Sport Fishing Permit for Blind, Mobility Impaired, or Developmentally Disabled: The fishing permit can be obtained by mobility impaired, blind, or developmentally disabled persons.
How Much is a Fishing License in California?
As mentioned earlier, the cost of a fishing license in California will depend on the kind of license that you’re getting.
|Type of Fishing License||Cost|
|Sport fishing license for residents||$54|
|Sport fishing license for non-residents||$145.80|
|Sport fishing license at a reduced fee (disabled veterans and recovering service members)||$8.24 – $8.64|
|Sport fishing license at a reduced fee (low-income seniors)||$8.24|
|FREE sport fishing permit for low-income Native Americans||FREE|
|FREE sport fishing permit for blind, mobility impaired, or developmentally disabled||FREE|
Annual license renewal is on the 1st of January every year. Remember that certain parts of the state need additional validations, documentation, and report cards. There are specific species that require specific permissions as well.
It can be very confusing to comply with the relevant regulations and know exactly what you’re required to have to fish in CA legally. This is why it’s a good idea to call up the local authorities first before you head out onto the water.
Where Can I Acquire CA Fishing Permits?
There are several options to process and acquire your CA fishing permit.
They are as follows:
- CA Department of Fish & Wildlife Website: You can purchase a fishing permit at the official website of the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife. You’ll have to select the correct type of fishing license that you’re eligible for through the agency’s online system. This can be quite tricky if you’re a first-time buyer. Getting your license online will be time-consuming. After the purchase, download and print your license. It would be good practice to keep the receipt should you lose your license.
- CA Department of Fish & Wildlife Offices: There are 10 different offices of the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife where you can purchase a fishing permit. While this is an excellent option for those who need various kinds of licenses for fishing explained to them, there are some who would rather skip the drive or commute to the office of the government authority just to acquire the license. In addition, the CDFW website states that most of the offices are operating under limited office hours. This means it can be a challenge for some to find the nearest office which can accommodate their schedule.
- Licensing Agents: There are licensing agents authorized by the CDFW to issue fishing permits in California. The website of the CDFW has a search tool. This feature will help you find the agents nearest you.
Any of the aforementioned options can cost you a great deal of money, time, and energy. You’ll be required to fill out forms and then provide your personal documents.
For this reason, it’s advised to process your fishing license days, weeks, or even months before your planned fishing excursion.
There are millions of anglers coming from several parts of the globe who purchase annual fishing licenses to fish in the waters of California. After all, there are thousands of unique species you can target while fishing in the state.
The CDFW suggests for anglers to sign up for the auto-renewal of their licenses as this will help ensure they don’t end up on the water with expired licenses.