These Are the Reasons Why Do You Need a Fishing License

Why Do You Need a Fishing License

Fishing techniques and equipment may vary a lot, and every angler needs something different. But, there is one thing that is necessary for all, and that is a fishing license.

Fishing without it is both irresponsible and illegal. So why do you need a fishing license and is it really as important as everyone is saying?

You need a fishing license to finance protection of fish population, for stocking the waters, and for ecological research. The last one is important for implementation of various measures that will ensure that generations after us can enjoy the same hobby as we do.

Of course, rules can be a lot different in every state (or country) so you have to inform yourself well before going on a fishing trip.

Luckily, buying a fishing license is very easy, and in most cases, quite affordable. They are available in various stores and online. You may even fall under some special category to get a discount, like local resident or youth.

Here I will tell you more about these reasons and explain how it all started.



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When Did Fishing Licenses Start in the World?

People have been fishing for thousands of years, but licenses became a norm quite recently in history. So, when did fishing licenses start and why?

First licenses were developed in China, in 1729. Of course, this was for fishing boats, not for recreational activity. After that, in 1765, Qing dynasty decided that all fishing boats need a permit to be displayed on the boat. This system was supposed to regulate fish population in coastal waters.

Licenses used at that time were quite similar to those we have today, and they all included names of the crew, home port, name of the boat, registration number, and date of issue.

This system proved to be useful, so in the centuries after, almost all countries around the world started issuing fishing licenses. In the USA, it started in the mid-1880s. California issued their first license 1860. Commercial fishing licenses appeared in Oregon in 1899.

Fishing licenses in Pennsylvania became mandatory after 1919 for non-residents. So, as you can see, the trend spread around the globe, although some countries still don’t require them for recreational fishing.

For example, in Thailand you may fish without a permit, but you have to be careful to avoid protected areas and protected fish. If you are on a vacation and want to relax on a beach and fish at the same time, you may do so. However, many stocked lakes require various permits simply to finance it all.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Every State?

Many anglers ask do you need a fishing license in every state and is there one license that covers it all?

In the USA, licences are mandatory in every state, however different rules apply. Prices vary a lot, and so does the age limit. The most expensive ones are for adults who are non-residents. Discounts apply for local residents, youth, seniors, disabled, military personnel, and similar.

Licenses for youth are quite cheap, but the age limit varies from 10 to 18 years of age.

If you want to fish in the sea but you have a freshwater license, you may not do so before obtaining another license valid for the sea.

Unfortunately, there is no license that covers all 50 states. However, if a body of water is shared by 2 states, you may fish in that specific water while crossing the border with only one license.

It is your responsibility to inform yourself about licenses and all rules and regulations that apply.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License? [Main Reasons]

Here I will tell you why do you need a fishing license and what are the reasons behind those fees you must pay to get one.

Reasons #1: Protecting the fish population

Fishing and protecting fish population may seem contradictory, but it is not. With licences anglers must obey various rules that ensure normal fish reproduction and growth cycles.

Closed seasons are defined, there is a size limit, and you must release juvenile fish. Permitted fishing methods are defined so that it is a fair game between an angler and a fish. There are also rules about how many specimens of a specific specie you may keep.

So, as you can see, it is directed towards keeping a fish population healthy and abundant.

Reasons #2: Ecological programs

Unfortunately, modern civilization has a negative impact on nature, and the fish we love to catch. Waters are full of garbage made by irresponsible people, and water quality may suffer a lot.

To minimize the effect of it, various programs are organized, such as cleaning the waters, identification and removal of pollutants, and creation of artificial environments that helps the fish. One of the examples is building fish ladders in areas where that is necessary.

If you are interested in this, check your local fishing clubs or similar organisations and join them on the next cleaning adventure.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License - Fish Population

Reasons #3: Stocking the fish

Some waters are full of fish despite the fact that thousands of anglers fish there on a daily basis. The reason behind that is stocking these waters with fish. Juvenile fish are released into these wild waters after being hatched and fed in captivity.

These programs are quite expensive, so naturally, they are financed through licenses fees. This also protects some species from going extinct in certain waters.

Many anglers are not aware of the fact that even when fishing in rivers, there is a chance that the fish they are catching may be the one brought there form hatcheries. Rainbow trout is one of the best examples, and it is being stocked in many rivers around the world.

Reasons #4: Research and education

How to know what kind of fish can you catch at certain times and how much to keep? The answer is research. Researchers are studying fish population, water quality, and fish numbers through the years.

Based on the results of research various educational programs are formed to learn anglers, especially young ones, about responsible fishing.

All of this is not free, and it is financed through the fees paid by the anglers.

This is especially important in oceans where fish populations are declining mostly due to commercial fishing and warming of the waters. It is important to keep track of it and make recommendations about fishing quotas that will not have a negative impact.

Reasons #5: Access and organization improvement

Have you ever wondered who s paying for boat ramps, access roads, and other important infrastructure around popular fishing destinations?

Authorities who are selling the permits may use part of the money to keep these places well maintained, and to invest in infrastructural improvements that should make our fishing experiences better.

All of these reasons are equally important, and we must make sure to participate in all of the efforts that are made towards environmental protection and healthy fish population.

What Happens If You Get Caught Without A Fishing License?

Buying a license is easy and affordable, so you should never fish without it. But, if it somehow happens that you don’t have one, here is what to expect.

If it is your first offense and the authorities are having a good day, you may just get a warning and get your fish confiscated.

If you are a repetitive offender, you will definitely get a fine which can be quite expensive. And if you get caught again, you may even face some jail time.

It is not worth the risk, and you should never gamble. Getting caught will most likely ruin your fishing trip, and instead of paying 20-50 dollars for a license, you may spend hundreds for a fine.

So, Keep Calm and Buy Fishing License Online

Now you know when did fishing licenses start, and why. But, what is the best ways to get / buy one?

Although licenses can be bought in bait and tackle stores, and even supermarkets like Walmart, the best way to buy one is online, especially if traveling to another state.

There are two main reasons why I prefer buying licenses online. First of all, it is easy and can be done anytime and anywhere, and secondly, I don’t have to worry that the stores may be closed at the time of my arrival, especially in small towns and villages.

You may buy licenses for all 50 states online. Every state has official website where you can find all the rules and regulations that go with the license. Of course, you will need a document to prove your residency/age if you are buying at a discount.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License - Buy Online


Now you know why do you need a fishing license and why is it important to pay those fees. It may seem irrelevant, and you may think that nothing will happened if you take a fish or two without it, however it is a mistake. If everyone did so, there would be no regulations and fish population would decline.

Make sure that you stay responsible and to always obey local rules and regulations about permitted bait, closed season, number of hook/rods and everything else.

Buy the fishing license online and avoid crowds in stores, so that you can arrive at the location and start fishing immediately!

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