How to Buy a California Fishing License

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If you’re planning on fishing in California, it’s important to get your fishing license early in the year. This will give you the most bang for your buck since you’re required to buy a new one at the start of each calendar year.

There are a few places that don’t require a fishing license, however that limits your fishing options. Usually there are a few days a year that allow for free fishing. Again limiting.

We highly recommend get your license and necessary add-ons so you follow state regulations. We’d hate to see you get in trouble by CA Fish and Wildlife. Plus, the funds do help keep our fishery going, as much as the price can hurt the wallet.

Buy your California Fishing License.

How Much is a Fishing License?

Your fishing license varies depending on the rate for the year and the add-ons you decide to use. For example, a base fishing license for freshwater plus a saltwater and extra rod add-on will be just under $80 for 2021.

Here’s an updated guide on fishing license pricing.

Lifetime Fishing License

If you’re serious about fishing, then it’s worth looking into a lifetime fishing license. This is especially true if you have a child who is likely to live in California and loves to fish.

The prices vary, but they do favor younger and older individuals. Check the licensing link above for the latest prices.

What Fishing License Do You Need?

Fishing licenses in California can be a bit tricky to understand if you’re new to fishing. You can buy one or two-day license if you only fish a few times per year. Typically you can do this if you’re going on a party boat or stop by a tackle shop on your way to your destination.

You can also get a year license but that’s only for freshwater unless you get your add-ons/stamps. Let’s talk about that a bit more.

Fishing License

Your fishing license allows you to fish legally for the calendar year in California. You have the option of a one-day, two-day or yearly residential license. If you’re from out-of-state, you’ll need to pay out-of-state prices, which is more.

Add-Ons or Stamps

Add-Ons or Stamps tack on to your fishing license and allow you more options. This includes fishing in the ocean with the Ocean Enhancement Validation or using a second rod with the Second Rod Validation.

We recommend buying them to get access to all that California fishing has to offer.

Report Cards

Report cards are special because they allow you access to certain species that aren’t covered with your regular fishing license. This includes going for Spiny Lobster, Steelhead, Sturgeon, and Salmon.

Each report card has a different set of rules and regulations, so be sure to check with how each works before you go after those species.

Do You Need a Spearfishing License?

You’ll need a regular fishing license with the Ocean Enhancement Stamp.

How to Make a Go ID?

To buy a fishing license online you’ll need to have a Go ID. Here’s a video I put together back in 2020 on how to get a fishing license in a bit more detail.

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Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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Articles » Freshwater Fishing » How to Buy a California Fishing License