Do Kids Need a Fishing License? [Here is the Answer]

Do Kids Need a Fishing License

There are many different types of fishing licenses, and almost everyone needs one. However, there are a few exceptions.

For example, in some states, seniors are exempted from having one. But what about kids? Do kids need a fishing license?

The answer is no, they don’t, but there is a different age limit in various states. In some places, everyone older than 10 needs one, while in other you can fish freely until your 18th birthday. There is only one state in the USA where even kids need a license.

As an adult who is accompanying children, it is your responsibility to check rules and regulations for a state you plan to fish at.

Even if kids don’t need a license, they still have to obey the law while fishing. You should teach them about responsible fishing.

Here I will tell you a bit more about kids license requirements.

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Why Do You Need a Fishing License?

You may be wondering why do you need fishing license and what is the point of it?

When you buy a license, authorities will earn money which will be spent for various fishing related purposes.

Majority of it goes for conservation and protection of healthy fish populations. Researchers are observing fish populations and their life cycles. They also observe water quality and other important ecological aspects. Based on that, authorities may limit the catch or declare a closed season to help fish reproduce.

Water cleanups are organized too, and part of the money goes into infrastructural projects like boat docks.

And lastly, there is stocking fish. Fish species are farmed in hatcheries and released into lakes and rivers to increase their numbers.

All of those are reasons why do you need fishing license and when you think about it, it is a small price to pay to ensure fishing in the future.

What Are the Different Types of Fishing Licenses?

Not all fishing licenses are the same, and various categories exist.

Those categories are not the same in all states, and different limits (like age limit) apply. So, this is some general clarification about what are the different types of fishing licenses.

We have categories based on residency. Residents can get a discount, unlike non-residents. Then we have categories based on waters. You need different license for freshwater than for saltwater (ocean). In some states, you can buy a combo license.

In addition to that, disabled anglers, as well as military personnel, veterans, and similar categories may be able to buy licenses at a lower price.

And lastly, there are categories based on age. Adults will pay the highest price, while youth and seniors may get it at a discount, or sometimes even for free. In some states, certain age categories may not need a license at all.

Of course, you can choose between yearly license or license for day/3day/week period.

As I always say, it is your responsibility to check official up to date info and buy the license accordingly. These rules may change and I can’t tell you the exact requirements that will be valid forever.

Do Kids Need a Fishing License?

Parents often fish with their kids and wonder do kids need a fishing license? The answer is NO, they don’t. However, there is the age limit that varies a lot.

For example, everyone who is 10 or older needs a license in Arizona.

But in Alaska, this limit is 18 years. Unfortunately, there is no license that covers all 50 states, and you will need to buy one (if necessary) in every state you are visiting for fishing.

Depending on a child’s age, he/she may be required to have a license in one state, while be exempted in another. Let’s say the kid is 13 years old. In Washington, the license is not required, because the limit is 15 year old. However, if fishing in Nevada will require it, as the limit is 12.

There is one exemption, where everyone needs a license, and that is Hawaii. Even toddler need one, but it cost just a few dollars. This is valid for freshwater only, and it is not applicable to saltwater, where the license is nor required for kids.

I already mentioned that kids have to obey rules and regulations even if license is not required. That is also something that you should study carefully. For example, in Wyoming, everyone younger than 16 can fish without a license. These young anglers can also keep the number of fish stated by the authorities, except if fishing for trout. In that case, they share a limit with an adult who has a license. This is why you have to read everything stated on official websites in detail.

You can also read my article with title: Does a 14 Year Old Need a Fishing License?

Do Kids Need a Fishing License - Parents

States Where Kids Don’t Need a Fishing License

At what age do you need a fishing license is a complex question, and therefore I decided to include this table with age limits for kids for various states.

As already said, kids do not need a license, and it is like that in 49 states. But, the age limit can vary significantly. Keep in mind that this table is not an official document, and you still need to check authorities websites.

STATE YOUNG ANGLERS LINK
Alabama 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Alaska 18 or older residents and 16 or older non-residents More info
Arizona 10 or older residents and non residents More info
Arkansas 16 or older resident and non residents More info
California 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Colorado 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Delaware 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Florida 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Georgia 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Hawaii All minors regardless of age More info
Idaho 14 or older residents and non residents More info
Illinois 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Indiana 18 or older residents and non residents More info
Iowa 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Kansas 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Kentucky 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Louisiana 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Maine 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Maryland 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Massachussets 15 or older resident and non resident More info
Michigan 17 or older resident and non residents More info
Minnesota 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Mississippi 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Missouri 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Montana 12 or older residents and non residents More info
Nebraska 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Nevada 18 or older residents and non residents More info
New Hampshire 16 or older resident and non residents More info
New Jersey 16 or older resident and non residents More info
New Mexico 12 or older residents and non residents More info
New York 16 or older resident and non residents More info
North Carolina 16 or older resident and non residents More info
North Dakota 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Ohio 16 or older resident and non residents More info
Oklahoma 16 or older resident, 14 or older non resident More info
Oregon 12 or older residents and non residents More info
Pennsylvania 16 or older resident and non residents More info
South Carolina 16 or older resident and non residents More info
South Dakota 18 or older resident and non resident More info
Tennessee 13 or older resident and non resident More info
Texas 16 or older resident and non resident More info
Utah 12 or older residents and non residents More info
Vermont 15 or older resident and non resident More info
Virginia 16 or older resident and non resident More info
Washington 15 or older resident and non resident More info
West Virginia 15 or older resident and non resident More info
Wisconsin 16 or older resident and non resident More info
Wyoming 14 or older residents and non residents More info

Where Can Kids Get a Fishing License?

You can buy fishing license online or in some of the many stores that sell them. Those are most often bait or tackle stores, offices from local fishing authorities, or even supermarkets like Walmart.

I like to buy them online because of the convenience. You can do it at any time and plan ahead. You don’t have to worry that the stores will be closed. It is a simple process where you can read all the rules and regulations, determine which license type you need, and buy it with just a few clicks.

Keep in mind that for special categories, like residents, you need to provide a document which will prove your residency/age.

How Much is a Fishing License for Kids?

So, how much is a fishing license for kids and can you get a discount based on young age? Up to a certain age, you don’t even need a license, so it is free to fish for a child.

When you reach a limit, but you are still younger than 17/18 years (depending on a state), you can get a youth discount, which is similar to senior discount.

Those youth licenses are affordable, and the prices can go from a couple of dollars to about $20. Of course, these numbers can change on a yearly basis, and can be a bit different.

Unfortunately, for non-residents, different rates may apply in some states, and even young anglers may be required to pay a bit higher price than a local young angler.

As an adult who is accompanying a child, you are required to have a license unless it is specifically stated otherwise by the local authorities. This is valid both for those who are physically helping a child and for those who are just observing them.

What Documents Do Kids Need to Get a Fishing License?

Whoever is buying a license which includes discount needs to have a valid ID which states the same info about residency and age as the one shown on a fishing license.

But, what about kids who do not have a drivers license or an ID?

Luckily, no documents are required for children under the age of 16. After that, in many states, driver’s license, or any other official document (like an ID or passport) may be required.

You can find the detail on official authorities’ websites.

Do Kids Need a Fishing License - Documents

What Happens If You Get Caught Without A Fishing License?

Fishing licenses are essential parts of everyone’s fishing equipment, and you should never go out and fish without one. You can get a fine for fishing without a license, and those fines most often go from $50 to $500. However, if you are caught with some specific types of fish for which you have to pay penalties, or you are a repetitive offender, fines can go over $10 000! So, it is not worth a risk.

There is a chance that you end up in court and get sent to jail. Those who did some minor mistake like forgot to renew their license may only get a warning and get their fish confiscated.

As an adult, you are responsible for your child. Teach them about responsible fishing, catch and release, teach them to release fish under a legal size limit, and make sure that they use only allowed baits and fishing techniques.

Promote responsible fishing to ensure healthy fish populations in the future.

Conclusion

Now you know do kids need a fishing license and what are the differences between states. Age limits significantly vary, and what is consider a child in one state may be different in another.

Check the requirements before you go fishing with a kid and buy a license if required. Keep in mind that kids have to obey rules and regulations even if they are exempted from having a license.

See the table above for quick details but use it as a guidance only. Click on a link provided for a specific state to get specific and currently valid information.

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I'm Sina, the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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