California Fishing License: Get Legal in a Few Easy Steps
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
If you’re planning a fishing trip in California, it’s important to know about the different types of fishing licenses available. In this article, we’ll explore everything from the cost of a California fishing license to the requirements for obtaining a sport fishing license. Get ready to dive into the world of fishing in the Golden State!
Get your fishing license online or in person. Choose from options like one-day, annual, or 10-day licenses based on your residency and trip duration. Fees range from $19.18 for a one-day sport fishing license to $58.58 for an annual resident fishing license.
- Get your fishing license online or in person.
- Choose the right license based on residency and trip duration.
- Fees vary for different licenses, such as one-day, annual, or 10-day.
- Having a fishing license ensures you follow regulations and protect marine resources.
- Embrace the diverse fishing opportunities in California with your fishing license.
As a fellow angler, I can assure you that having a valid fishing license is essential. It’s not just about rules, but also about preserving our precious marine life. So, don’t forget to grab your fishing license and get ready for an exciting trip exploring California’s beautiful waters!
California Fishing License Overview
Types of Licenses
In California, there are different types of fishing licenses available depending on your needs. Some fishing licenses expire and cater to short-term fishing experiences, while others cover longer periods or specific situations. Here are the most common licenses:
- One-day Sport Fishing License: Allows you to fish for one specified day. This license is exempt from the Ocean Enhancement Validation requirement.
- Two-day Sport Fishing License: You can fish for two consecutive days with this option.
- Ten-day Non-resident Sport Fishing License: Non-residents can fish for ten consecutive days with this option
- Annual Fishing License: If you frequently fish throughout the year, an annual license might be the best choice.
Resident vs Non-Resident Licenses
- A resident is considered someone who has lived in California for six months or more before applying for a license or permit.
- Active military personnel serving in the Armed Forces of the United States or its auxiliary branch are also classified as residents.
- Individuals enrolled in the Job Corps are recognized as residents for licensing purposes.
- Residency status is important for determining eligibility and fees associated with licenses and permits.
- Proof of residency may be required when applying for a license or permit in California.
See cost of sport fishing license fees below.
Lifetime Fishing Licenses
California also offers Lifetime Fishing Licenses for state residents. With a lifetime resident free sport fishing ca sportfishing license, you’ll receive a new annual free resident sport fishing, sportfishing license and free sport fishing license each year without having to reapply or pay additional fees.
These licenses can only be purchased at a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) sales office and the cost depends on the age of the angler. See cost of lifetime licenses below.
Disabled and Low-Income Licenses
There are special provisions for fishing licenses available to disabled veterans and low-income seniors. To qualify for these licenses, you must meet specific eligibility requirements, which can be found on the CDFW website. See cost of reduced fee licenses below.
How to Purchase a License
To purchase a lifetime fishing license online, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website. Online customers of lifetime fishing license must be at least 18 years of age and provide a Visa or MasterCard for the transaction.
You can also buy a fishing license in person through independent resident sport fishing license sales agents. These person fishing license agent can be found in local sporting goods stores, large discount stores, or bait and tackle shops.
License Sales Offices and Agents
- CDFW License Sales Offices: These offices allow you to purchase your license directly from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, note that payments in cash are not accepted at CDFW offices.
- CDFW Authorized Sales Channels: License agents located throughout the state can help you purchase or obtain a duplicate sport fishing license in case you lose or damage your original one. Examples of authorized sales channels include Walmart, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and local tackle shops.
Remember to keep your fishing license with you when you participate in any fishing activities in California. Stay informed on the latest regulations and enjoy a great fishing experience!
California Saltwater Fishing Limits
If you’re planning a saltwater fishing trip in California, it’s important to know the limits and regulations for the different types of fish.
This article on California Saltwater Fish Limits provides a comprehensive guide to help you stay informed and make the most of your fishing experience.
California Fishing License Costs and Discounts
Lifetime Fishing Licenses
If you’re a California resident, lifetime fishing licenses are available at different price points based on your age:
|Ages 0-9||$644.50||Available to residents of California. Lifetime fishing licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of issuance. Lifetime Fishing Packages must first be purchased from a CDFW License Sales Office. See Lifetime License Information for more detail.|
|Fishing Privilege Package||$435.50||Includes a Lifetime Second-Rod Validation, Ocean Enhancement Validation, North Coast Salmon Report Card and Steelhead Report Card. The Second-Rod Validation and Ocean Enhancement Validation are valid for 365 days from the date of issuance.|
You can also add extra privileges to your lifetime license, such as a third-rod validation, an ocean enhancement stamp, a lifetime second-rod stamp, second-rod validation, and ocean enhancement validation, at an additional cost.
California Sport Fishing License
When planning a fishing trip, remember to obtain a sport fishing license, as it is required for capturing various aquatic species in both inland and ocean waters.
- A sport fishing license is necessary for individuals attempting to catch fish, mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates, amphibians, or reptiles.
- Additional validations and report cards may be required depending on the species and fishing location.
- The sport fishing license is valid for the calendar year, from January 1 to December 31, 2023.
- If purchased between November 15, 2022, and December 31, 2022, the license is valid for 365 days starting from the date of purchase.
- It is essential to adhere to all fishing regulations and guidelines to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.
|License Type||Resident Fee||Nonresident Fee||Description|
|Sport Fishing||$58.58||$158.25||Available for residents and non-residents 16 years of age or older.|
|Reduced-Fee – Disabled Veteran||$9.01||$9.46||Available for honorably discharged disabled veterans with a 50% or greater service-connected disability.|
|Reduced-Fee – Recovering Service Member||$9.01||$9.46||Available for recovering service members of the US military.|
|Reduced-Fee – Low Income Senior||$9.01||N/A||Available for low-income California residents, 65 years of age and older, who receive certain government assistance.|
|Free – Low Income Native American||NO FEE||N/A||Available for Native Americans who are residents and financially unable to pay the fee.|
|Free – Mobility Impaired, Blind or Developmentally Disabled||NO FEE||N/A||Available for individuals who are blind, developmentally disabled, or mobility impaired.|
|One-day License||$19.18||$19.18||Allows fishing for one specified day. Exempt from Ocean Enhancement Validation requirement.|
|Two-day License||$29.42||$29.42||Allows fishing for two consecutive days. Exempt from Ocean Enhancement Validation requirement.|
|Ten-day Nonresident License||N/A||$58.58||Allows non-residents to fish for ten consecutive days.|
|Duplicate Sport Fishing License||$12.96||Replaces a lost or stolen sport fishing license.|
|Sport Fishing Validation||$3.50||(Second-Rod, Ocean Enhancement and Recreational Crab Trap) Replaces lost or stolen sport fishing validations.|
|Sturgeon Report Card||$17.51||Replaces lost or stolen Sturgeon Report Card. Available only at CDFW license sales offices. Sturgeon Fishing Report Card Affidavit (PDF)(opens in new tab)|
|Abalone Report Card||$20.60||Fishery is currently closed – Replaces lost or stolen Abalone Report Card. Available only at CDFW license sales offices.|
Regulations and Report Cards
Sport Fishing Regulations
In California, sport fishing regulations are designed to help preserve and manage the state’s valuable fish resources. These regulations include fishing seasons, size and bag limits, and area restrictions. You should familiarize yourself with the regulations governing the specific area and species you plan to fish for. Check the California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations and Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations for detailed information.
Multi-Day Fishing Permits
A Multi-Day Fishing Permit, also known as the “Declaration for Multi-day Fishing Trip Permit,” allows licensed individuals to fish in ocean waters for multiple consecutive calendar days. This permit authorizes up to three daily bag and possession limits of saltwater fin fish, lobster, and rock scallop, depending on the duration of the trip.
To obtain a Multi-Day Fishing Permit, you must fulfill certain requirements outlined in Section 27.15 of the current ocean sport fishing regulations. These requirements include:
- Planning to go offshore fishing for more than one calendar day.
- The fishing trip must be continuous and last for 12 hours or more on both the first and last days of the trip.
- No berthing or docking within five miles of the mainland shore is allowed during the trip.
- Each person is limited to one daily bag limit per calendar day, excluding salmon, steelhead, striped bass, or sturgeon.
- All passengers must disembark at the specified location stated on the Multi-Day Fishing Permit.
- The permit must be visibly displayed for all passengers onboard the boat.
Report Cards and Validation Requirements
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) requires anglers fishing for certain species to carry report cards along with their fishing license.
Make sure to check the official guidelines for specific seasons and reporting requirements of certain cards. Having a valid sport fishing license and submitting report cards on time contribute to the sustainable management of fish populations in California.
- The following species require a report card: steelhead, sturgeon, abalone, spiny lobster, and salmon in the Klamath, Trinity, and Smith Rivers.
- All anglers, including those exempt from a sport fishing license (such as children under 16, individuals fishing from public piers, and participants on free fishing days), must have the appropriate report card.
- Report cards are necessary even if a fishing license is not required.
- Adhering to regulations and submitting timely and valid report cards helps in managing California’s fish populations sustainably.
- Remember to submit completed report cards to the CDFW by the specified deadlines.
- Some report cards can be submitted online, while others need to be mailed.
- Failure to submit report cards may result in penalties or the inability to purchase future report cards.
|Ocean Enhancement Validation||$6.74||Required for fishing in ocean waters south of Point Arguello. Not needed with One or Two-Day Sport Fishing License.|
|Second Rod Validation||$18.36||Allows fishing with two rods or lines in inland waters, except where restricted to artificial lures or barbless hooks.|
|Recreational Crab Trap Validation||$2.73||Required for using crab traps as defined in CCR, T14, Section 29.80(c). Not needed for hoop nets or crab loop traps.|
|Abalone Report Card||$28.08||Required for taking abalone from ocean waters north of San Francisco Bay. One card per person per license year. Fishery currently closed.|
|Sturgeon Fishing Report Card||$10.29||Required for taking sturgeon. One card per person per year.|
|North Coast Salmon Report Card||$8.13||Required for taking salmon in the Smith River System or Klamath-Trinity River System.|
|Steelhead Report Card||$9.21||Required for taking steelhead in inland waters.|
|Spiny Lobster Report Card||$11.62||Required for taking spiny lobster. Failure to return card or report harvest incurs non-return fee.|
North Coast Salmon Report Card
If you plan to fish for salmon in the Klamath, Trinity, or Smith Rivers, you must have a North Coast Salmon report card. This card should be carried with you whenever you are fishing for salmon in these rivers. Remember to record your catches on the card as required.
Steelhead Report Card
When targeting steelhead, ensure you have the Steelhead report card with your fishing license. This report card is mandatory for all anglers fishing for steelhead in California.
Spiny Lobster Report Card
If you want to fish for spiny lobster, you need to acquire the Spiny Lobster report card. This card is a prerequisite for all anglers pursuing spiny lobster in California waters.
Free Fishing Days
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offers two Free Fishing Days each year, allowing people to fish without a sport fishing license.
These days provide a great opportunity for newcomers to try fishing at a low cost. Some regions even have programs like Fishing in the City, which offer fishing opportunities in urban areas. Free fishing day clinics aim to educate novice anglers about fishing techniques, ethics, and more.
While fishing regulations still apply, these designated days allow anyone to fish without a license. However, if targeting steelhead, sturgeon, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems, anglers must have the appropriate report card.
- CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year, allowing fishing without a license.
- It is a great opportunity for newcomers to try fishing at a low cost.
- Fishing in the City programs provide fishing opportunities in urban areas.
- Free fishing day clinics educate novice anglers about fishing techniques and ethics.
- Fishing regulations such as bag limits and gear restrictions still apply on Free Fishing Days.
- Anglers must have the appropriate report card if fishing for steelhead, sturgeon, or salmon in certain river systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, anglers under the age of 16 or those fishing from a public pier do not require a fishing license.
A one-day sport fishing license costs $19.18 and a two-day sport fishing license costs $29.42. These prices apply to both residents and non-residents.
Yes, additional validations and report cards are required for certain species and areas. Be sure to check the regulations before heading out to fish.
Remember to always follow the fishing regulations and guidelines for the area you’ll be fishing, and have fun out on the water!