Fishing Without a License — Here’s What You Should Know

If you go fishing without a license, the officer in charge of the water body you’re fishing at will warn you to exit. The officer will issue you a modest fine and a ticket if it’s your first offense. Remember, the amount you pay will depend on the state you’re fishing in, but you’ll mostly be charged the license’s value and an additional fine of about $50. Nowadays, buying a fishing license is easy, but you’re supposed to have a specific one. The most common types of license include saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing, recreational fishing, combination fishing, and commercial fishing. It’s always good to check if local regulations allow certain people to fish without a fishing license. For example, some states like Florida have free fishing days and allow children less than 26 years and adults over 65 to fish without a fishing license.

You might be interested in fishing, but do you have a fishing license? Most states don’t allow people to fish without a fishing license, but they have a few exceptions that might help you. This article will help you discover more about fishing restrictions and what might happen to you if you go fishing without a license.

Do You Need a Fishing License?

Depending on where you’re fishing, you could need a fishing license. It’s always advised to check your local regulations before fishing.

For example, in California, there are certain areas where a fishing license isn’t required. There are also a few days a year that are open to the general public without a license.

fishing without a license
Source: Canva Pro

What Happens If You Go Fishing Without A License?

There are several possibilities. Authorities regularly monitor all bodies of water. They are always on the lookout for anglers who are fishing without a permit. So, avoiding them is practically difficult.

What happens to you now is determined by three factors:

  • the officer who apprehended you,
  • the state in which you are caught, and
  • whether or not you have any past offenses.

In the best-case scenario, the officer will issue a warning, forcing you to exit the water. But, you will not be allowed to return to fishing unless you get a valid fishing license.

But, if this does not happen very often, purchasing fishing permission is so easy that there is no excuse not to have one. Besides, the “I didn’t know” reason won’t work either, even in your own home county.

As a rule, if this is just your first offense, you will most likely receive a modest fine and a ticket. The amount you must pay as a fine varies by state. The value ranges from the license cost plus an additional $50.

Fishing Violations and Scenarios

Generally, if you’re caught, you’ll get a ticket. Remember that penalties always differ depending on the state you are caught fishing without a license.

For example, Florida’s law makes fishing without valid permission a first-level violation. Here, it implies it is not a criminal act, so if you are detected, you are unlikely to go to jail, but you will be asked to appear before the county clerk.

Even yet, if you have any illegally caught fish (especially endangered fish species) in your possession, the fine will rise for every fish caught.

Before getting fish into your possession, make sure you have the right license proof and search for the fishing rules of states. Besides, a license will be far less expensive than a fine.

In most cases, you must pay the penalty within 30 days. You will commit another violation if you do not cooperate. So, there will be another fine or perhaps some jail time.

Remember that once you pay, that’s a sign you are admitting guilt and waiving your right to a hearing. So, if you don’t think you did anything against the law as an angler, you may always try to defend yourself in the county court. But still, you have to pay court fees. The county court will decide your penalties and fees.

The fine will be raised if this is not your first fishing violation. You may lose your fishing privileges for some time. That is why you shouldn’t even try the idea of fishing without a license, as the final verdict might be severe.

Types of Fishing Licenses

You may not be fully aware, but several types of fishing licenses are available depending on where you’re fishing. Some of the types include:

  • freshwater fishing
  • saltwater fishing
  • combination fishing
  • recreational fishing
  • commercial fishing

Obviously, a freshwater fishing license cannot be carried as a permit to fish in seawater. If you want to fish in both sorts of waterways, purchase a combination license.

The fact that you have licenses but not the correct ones will not protect you. You will still be fined and given a ticket. So before you cast your line, be sure you have a valid license.

Keep an eye out for your permit’s expiration date. An expired license is the same as having none at all. Many states provide a wide range of licenses with varying expiration periods. So, you may select the one that best meets your requirements.

A 24-hour permit, for example, is the perfect solution if you love the occasional fishing expedition. If you are an avid and active angler, you may also obtain an annual license.

Fortunately, getting a fishing license is simple because they are readily accessible in sporting goods stores, wildlife departments,  and internet sellers. Fishing license requirements vary so make sure to check beforehand.

More so, the wildlife department utilizes the money collected from fishing tickets to pay for the maintenance of all fisheries. So, just consider the licensing fee to contribute to the good of the ecosystem rather than an obligation.

Who Can Fish Without a Fishing License?

Check your local regulations. In Florida, children under 16 years of age or Florida residents age 65 or older do not need an actual license.

Final Thoughts 

Fishing without a license is a severe offense, and there are fines to be paid, as well as jail time. To avoid offenses, make sure you have the proper sort of valid fishing license before you embark on your angling trip. You don’t even have to be bothered knowing about free fishing days.

This extensive knowledge will give you peace of mind. At the same time, you catch fish and enjoy the enjoyment of this rewarding outdoor pastime.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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Articles » Freshwater Fishing » Fishing Without a License — Here’s What You Should Know