Do You Need A Fishing License For Catch And Release?

If you love fishing or just gain the interest to go fishing, you need to understand the rules and regulations. Knowing the rules of going to fish will help you have a seamless experience by ensuring you are not stopped after starting to fish. Or worse, get into trouble with the authorities because of ignorance. 

Yes, you need a fishing license for catch and release in all states. You pay for the upkeep of the area, use of the waters and land regardless of whether you intend to keep your catch or not.

Why Do You Need A Fishing License For Catch And Release?

Why Do You Need A Fishing License For Catch And Release

Having a fishing license, especially if you are not going to keep your catch, may not seem necessary. However, a fishing license is mandatory whether you will keep your catch or throw it back in the water. There are several reasons why a fishing license is important; let us take a look:

First, having a fishing license helps pay for the people in charge of maintaining the fishing area. These people also check to see that everyone is abiding by the law of fishing. Equipment used for maintenance is also gotten from the proceeds of these fishing licenses.

A fishing license also ensures that everyone abides by the law, in that even though you only want to catch and release, some people may want to catch and go with their catch. A fishing permit ensures that you have paid for your catch through licensing, even if you go with your catch. Sometimes you may go to catch and release, but your catch may be too good to let go. So, in case you keep it, it will be legal. 

The license also helps control the fish population since the license comes with information on the limits allowed to be caught for each species.

The funds from the fishing license are used on research that is beneficial to the well-being of fish. The research includes the number of fish, mating season, and migration. Research helps the state know which fish is allowed to be caught, during which season, and even the minimum size that should be caught.

How To Get A Fishing License

You can get a fishing license from Walmart, Meijer, big5, or any sporting goods store in your area. These store-bought licenses are valid immediately, and the state uses them for convenience and ease of access.

You can also apply for your fishing license online from your state’s DNR(department of natural resources) website. In most states, when you buy online, it will be added to your driving license. This one is convenient since you can buy in advance at the comfort of your home and print it when you want to use it.

License costs vary according to state, age, and species you are targeting. Check your state’s wildlife and fisheries department website for specific information regarding your state. Below is a license cost table for Texas.

Type Of LicenseResident CostNon-Resident CostSenior Resident Cost
Fresh water(annual)$30$58$12
Year-from-purchase all-water$47N/AN/A
One-day all water$11$16N/A
Freshwater endorsement$5$5$5
Saltwater endorsement$10$10$10

Do You Need A Fishing Permit For Both Freshwater And Saltwater?

Fishing Permit For Both Freshwater And Saltwater

This one will depend on your preference and fishing activity. It also depends if you are a frequent fisher and in which water bodies you do your fishing.

If your fishing only entails fishing in one lake or river, you do not need two fishing licenses. You only apply for the one that you use frequently. However, if you fish in different water bodies, which are not all salty or fresh, two fishing licenses will favor you.

You can also have a combined fishing license that covers both freshwater and saltwater. Deciding whether you need a combination or separate fishing license depends on which one is more convenient for you. 

Who Is Exempted From Using A Fishing License

Most people must have a fishing license for attempting to catch fish, including catch and release. But there are exceptions for people who do not have to have a fishing license to go fishing even if they intend to keep their catch. These include:

1. You are a child that is below 16 years.

2. Senior resident citizen above 65, and you can prove your age and residency.

3. Someone who is fishing in a freshwater body that is on their property.

4. You go fishing with a hired fishing guide that has a valid license.

5. You fish from a licensed pier belonging to the state or municipal.

6. You fish in a fishpond that is a maximum of 20 acres and is within the private property of the one who owns the pond.

Consequences Of Not Having A Fishing License

The consequences of being caught fishing without having a fishing license may be severe. You may think that you will get away. Yes, that is a possibility. You may get away two or three times, but when caught, no one will understand. You may also want to risk going fishing without a license, but what if you get caught on your first attempt? 

Is it worth taking the risk? The cost of a fishing license is cheaper than the fines and tickets you will have to pay if caught fishing without a license. The consequences of getting caught fishing without a license include:

1. If it is your first time getting caught fishing without a license, then you will be given a ticket and a fine of $50 in addition to the license amount.

2. When caught fishing without a license more than once in three years, the fine is increased to $100.

3. If you have a fishing license but did not have it when you were caught, you will present it in court during the hearing. If found not guilty, then you will pay $10 as a court fee.

4. If you are caught fishing without a license too often, you may be charged up to $25000 or be imprisoned for one year. Your fishing equipment, including your boat, could also be confiscated 

Factors To Keep In Mind

1. This is just a guideline, and some things may vary according to state. For example, in some states, senior citizens are also required to have a fishing license. Theirs is, however, cheaper in comparison to the normal licenses. 

2. If you lose your license, you can buy the replacement at a retailer.

3. You should have your fishing license with you when fishing, in case the agents come checking. Doing this will help you avoid paying fines or court fees.


Fishing is an outdoor activity that is immensely loved and enjoyed by most people. For this reason, the government put in place laws that help in controlling the population of fish. If left uncontrolled, some species of fish may go extinct. Controlling means that only a certain type of fish can be caught and kept during a specific season. And a fish has to be a certain size to be kept.

When you purchase a license, you are provided with information on the type of fish to be caught. And the right methods of culling or releasing fish back into the water. Having the right license also allows you to keep a certain fish if you have to. 

Now that you know the importance of a fishing license in conserving fish, we recommend you go and get it. Well, unless you are an exception. Happy fishing.

Leave a Comment