How Much are Fishing Licenses in California

The cost for fishing license sales differs for each state and can come with many variables to what you can do and what you can’t do for each particular type of fishing license you purchase, or where you visit.

So, what is the California fishing license cost? Fishing licenses can vary in cost depending on a few different things. You can find these include age and location as two, as well as if you are CA residents or not.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website has lots of information about where you can purchase licenses, report cards, and validations.

California fishing license cost

Like many things that you can do in California, it is a bit different from other states, so the number of variables is much higher for your sport fishing licenses.

It is more in-depth to find the answer, which affects the price of a single fishing license. A single sentence isn’t enough to answer how much is a California fishing license sales price.

Carry on reading to learn about the California fishing licenses price. What the differences between fishing licenses fees are, and where you can buy a fishing license in California.

You will also see other information every angler ought to know before setting off on his or her next fishing trip.

Do I Need a Fishing License in California?

Any person in California over the age of 16 needs to purchase a CA sport-fishing license. This will apply to any person who has resided in the California state for a period of 6-months or more. It also applies to non-residents, although these are sold separately.

When you purchase a California sport-fishing license, these will be valid across the state and encompass both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

If you are on a group fishing expedition, every angler in the group needs to purchase a license. This includes when fishing with a fishing guide as well as when on a hire charter boat.

How much is the fine for fishing without a license in California?

Caught Fishing Without a License in California

Sportfishing with no valid California fishing license will cost an angler $485. If the angler can present proof of a valid license in court, the total fines can be reduced to just under $200.

Fishing with Gill Nets

Fishing unlicensed isn’t the only penalty California anglers need to worry about. Illegally using gill nets in California could lead to penalties in excess of $8,000. Financial penalties for illegal use of gill nets apply to the possession or attempted sale of fish caught unduly with gill nets. The same applies to the sale or purchase of any game fish.

Fines for Undersized Fish or Over-the-Limits

The State of California sets basic penalties for specified hunting and fishing violations against certain fish and wildlife. There are various fishing regulations that are outside of any sportfishing licenses requirements.

For instance, anyone in possession of undersized fish may face a total fine ranging from $485 to $1,095. This is dependent on the type of fish, along with a fine of $82 for each additional fish, which does not meet the permitted sizes stipulated for any given species.

Financial penalties for catching more fish than defined limits fall in line with undersized fish fines. The fine range is the same, and you are fined $82 for each additional fish over your quota.

Endangered Species Fines

There are hefty fines in cases where the animals are protected or in danger of extinction. Possession or capture of a protected species is likely to cost $20,000 in fines, fees, and penalties. If the protected species is a reptile or fish, the penalties are lower – but for higher than $2,000 you will have to pay the fish and wildlife in CA.

Fishing License Cost in California by category

How Much Does a Fishing License Cost California?

Here is all the information you need to see how much does a fishing license cost in California?

Short Term LicensesPrice
1-Day CA Fishing License (resident or nonresident)$16.20
2-Day CA Fishing License (resident or nonresident)$25.10
10-Day Non-Residents CA fishing license$49.94
Annual LicensesPrice
Residents Fishing License$49.94
Non-Resident Fishing License$134.74
Reduced Fee Fishing License$7.47
Fishing License ValidationsPrice
Second-Rod Validations$15.69
Ocean Enhancement Validations$5.66
Report CardsPrice
Depending on location and species$6.74 - $23.76
Duplicate FeesPrice
Second-Rod Validations$3.24
Annual Sort Fishing License$10.80
Sturgeon Fishing Report Card*$15.45

*Only from CDFW license sales offices*

Annual licenses need to be renewed on January 1st each year.

How Much Does it Cost for a Lifetime Fishing License in California?

If you are a keen angler and want to avoid purchasing a new license each year, you can go for a lifetime fishing license.

Once you purchase this option, you are presented with a new CA fishing license each year. You do need to purchase this from an official CDFW sales office. The costs for these lifetime fishing licenses will vary depending on the angler’s age.

Lifetime Fishing LicensesPrice
9-Years of age or younger$550.25
10-Years of age to 39 years$899.25
Age 40 to 61 years old$810.25
Age 62 or older$550.25

If you are a super keen angler, you can opt for an add-on purchase for a Fishing Privilege Package, which costs 4360.75. This add-on brings with it an Ocean Enhancement Stamp, Second-Rod Stamps for a lifetime, Salmon Report cards for the North Coast, and a Steelhead Report card.

Exemptions from Buying a California Fishing License

There are some exemptions from requirements when it comes to purchasing fishing licenses in California.

If you are fishing from a public pier, there is no requirement to purchase a license.

On Free fishing days, there is no need to purchase a 1-day license.

Any angler under 16 years old doesn’t need a California fishing license, although certain species do require a permit.

What Else Do You Need?

Along with your licenses, there are specific requirements that go along with this when you are going after any fish or wildlife.

Report Cards – Certain report cards are required for Steelhead, Sturgeon, Spiny Lobster. If you are fishing in Klamath, Smith Rivers, and Trinity, you do need a North Coast Report card.

Every angler needs these report cards, no matter if they are exempt from purchasing a license.

Ocean Enhancement Validation – For fishing in open waters south of Point Arguello, located in Santa Barbara County, will have to purchase this Ocean Enhancement Validation. Anglers who have 1 or 2-day fishing licenses don’t need to buy this.

Second Rod Validations – With this, an angler can use two rods when fishing inland waters. However, it doesn’t apply to any water where an angler is required to use barbless hooks and lures that are artificial.

California Fishing Licenses Validity

How Long are California Fishing Licenses Valid For?

Single-day licenses are valid on the day you purchase them, or for an advanced date, you set when you are buying these online. The same goes for a 2-day and a 10-day license, which are only valid for the set dates.

If you purchase an annual California fishing license, this is only valid for the year of purchase. Regardless of when you buy an annual license, it will expire on December 31 of that year. Even if you purchased it midway through December, it is void once you fall into the following year.

Where Can I purchase California Sport Fishing Licenses?

You can find a couple of options, and depending on where you live, either option can be better suited.

It is possible to purchase these fishing licenses direct from CDFW (California Department of Fish and Wildlife). It can be either online or directly from one of the CDFW offices.

One thing to note is that CDFW offices don’t take cash payments for fishing licenses.

There are other licensed retailers where you can purchase these licenses. You can also get them from Walmart, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and your local fishing tackle shop.

Fishing Regulations in California

Before heading off fishing, it is advisable to check the regulations. Hook regulations – If you are thinking of fishing in California, it is only legal for any angler to catch a fish with either a single rod and line or a one-hand line.

Each line can have no more than three hooks. If using lures, you can have three, and each of these can have three hooks. It is also advisable not to snag a fish and only land the ones you catch in the mouth. It is prohibited to snag fish in any other part of their body.

Certain areas may come with differing regulations. You can find these from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They publish updated maps of these regulations by region.

In Texas? Here’s how to get a Texas Fishing License.

Categories Fishing

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