How and where to get a fishing license in California

If you're 16 or older and plan on doing any ocean or fresh water fishing in the state of California you will need to obtain a fishing license first otherwise you could face some pretty steep fines and the loss of all your fishing equipment if you get caught without one. The process of obtaining a fishing license in California is actually pretty easy and won't take up much of your time. To help get you started here is everything you need to know in order to get a California state fishing license.

Where can fishing licenses be purchased?

Fishing licenses for both residents and non residents can be purchased online from The California Dept. of Fish and Game, a local Dept. of Fish and Game office or at any Walmart or sporting goods store in the state of California. In order to obtain a fishing license in person you will need to provide a valid state id or drivers license which will be scanned into the stores computer system. The store will then issue you a license printed with your basic information and what type of fishing license you purchased.

What types of fishing licenses are available and what do they cost?

There are four basic types of Sport Fishing licenses available in the state of California. The first is an annual Sport Fishing license which is valid from Jan 1st to December 31st of the same calendar year. This means that no matter what month its purchased in the annual license will expire on December 31st. Many people mistakenly assume that annual passes are good for one year from the date of purchase which is not the case.

The second type of license available is a one day fishing license. The cost of this license is $14.04 for both resident and non-residents. The one day fishing license can be purchased in advance as long as you provide the date you will be using the license on at the time of purchase.

A two day license is the third type of fishing license available in the state of California. The cost of this license is $21.86 for both residents and non-residents. This license can also be purchased in advance as long as you provide the dates you will be fishing at the time of purchase. The two days you choose must be consecutive.

Additional validations and report cards are required for certain species and areas for the one and two day California fishing licenses. However both are exempt from the Ocean Enhancement Validation requirement.

The last type of fishing license available for purchase in the state of California is the 10 day non-resident sport fishing license. This license is valid for ten consecutive days and costs $43.46. Additional validations and requirements maybe required depending on where you will be fishing and for what species.

How can I avoid having to renew my fishing license every year?

If you are an avid fisherman and want to avoid renewing your license every year you can purchase a Life Time Fishing License. Purchasing this type of license can save you money over the long run because you won't be subject to fee increases. The cost of this license is determined by the age you are when you purchase it. Currently the license ranges from $478.50 to $781.50. You must purchase the Lifetime License from the Dept. of Fish and Game.

When do I have to have a Validation and what do they cost?

You will need to purchase an additional validation in order to fish in the ocean waters south of Santa Barbara County, if you will be fishing on the Colorado River or if you will be fishing with a second rod.

The fee for the Ocean Enhancement Validation is $ 4.89 and allows you to fish in the ocean waters south of Santa Barbara County.

The Colorado River Validation allows you to fish from a boat or other floating device in the Colorado River and adjacent waters forming the California-Arizona border for an additional fee of $3.09.

If you plan on using a second rod to fish with you are required to have a Second Rod Validation except for waters in which only artificial lures or barb-less hooks may be used. The fee for this validation is $13.53.

What are Report Cards needed for and what do they cost?

Report cards are required for all persons fishing for steelhead, sturgeon and salmon or taking abalone or spiny lobster regardless of age, persons who are fishing from a public pier or who are fishing on free fishing days.

Abalone Report Cards are mandatory for taking abalone from ocean waters north of the center of the mouth of San Francisco Bay. The fee is $20.78 and only one card per person will be allowed each calendar year.

There is no fee for the Sturgeon Report Card but you must have one if you will be fishing for sturgeon in California. Only one card per person per calendar year will be issued.

The fee for a Spiny Lobster Report Card is $8.90 and is limited to one card per person per calendar year.

If you plan on taking salmon from the Smith River System or Klamath-Trinity River System you will need to purchase a North Coast Salmon Report Card for $5.66

A Steelhead Report Card is required for all persons taking steelhead in inland waters. The fee is $6.48

Free or Reduced Fishing Licenses

Seniors over the age of 65 who meet certain income requirements and honorably discharged veterans of the US Armed Forces who have a service connected disability rating of at least 50 percent are eligible to receive a reduced fee fishing license for $6.44. You must fill out an application and submit it to the Department of Fish and Game and be approved in order to receive this discount.

Free fishing licenses are granted to Native Americans who meet low income requirements, the blind and physically or developmentally disabled persons. For more information on what type of certification is needed for each of these and an application see the Dept of Fish and Games website.

Source:

California Dept. of Fish and Game

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Updated Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011