How Much is a Fishing License in California?

How Much is a Fishing License in California

How Much is a Fishing License in California?

You’ll need a fishing license if you’re looking to wet a line in the Golden State. Prices vary depending on your age and residency, so we are here to help you find the right fishing license for you.

In California, a “resident sport fishing” license costs $54.00 and is available for any resident 16 years of age or older. A “Non-Resident Sport Fishing” license costs $145.80 and is available for any non-resident who is 16 years of age or older. 

The California fishing license cost for seniors is $8.24 for an annual license.

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Keep reading to get all the information you need on California fishing licenses!

California Fishing Licenses

The fishing regulations in California are aimed at protecting fish populations and ensuring that there will be good opportunities for future generations. Anyone 16 years old or older must obtain a fishing license to fish in California unless they are fishing from a public pier on the Pacific Ocean.

While fishing from public piers along the Ocean is free, so too are two days out of the year, no matter where you are fishing in CA. Every year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife allows anyone looking to fish to do so without a fishing license. This year the dates for free fishing in California are Saturday, July 2nd, and Saturday, September 3rd.

For free fishing days in California, visit the state’s Fish and Wildlife page here.

All California fishing licenses are valid from January 1st to December 31st or for the remainder of the year from the date you purchase the license.

It is also worth noting that California requires “Validations and Report Cards.” For example, report cards are required by law for any angler targeting sturgeon, steelhead, spiny lobster, or Salmon. Report cards are even necessary for children under 16, who aren’t required to have a sport fishing license.

Along with report cards, another validation worth mentioning is the “second-rod validation,” which requires anglers who want to fish with two rods in inland waters the pay an additional $17.02 for their second line.

For a complete breakdown of how much a sport fishing license is in California, refer to the charts below:

Types of Fishing Licenses in California

  • Annual Sport Fishing License
  • Short Term Sport Fishing License
  • Lifetime Fishing License

Cost of Fishing License in California

Annual Sport Fishing Licenses

Fishing LicenseCost
Resident License$54.00
Non-Resident License$145.80
Reduced Fee License (Disabled Veterans)$8.24 (CDFW Offices) $8.64 (Agents)
Reduced Fee License (Recovering Service Member)$8.24 (CDFW Offices) $8.64 (Agents)
Reduced Fee License (Low Income Senior)$8.24
Free License (Low Income Native American)Free
Free License (Mobility Impaired, Blind or Developmentally Disabled)Free

Short Term Sport Fishing Licenses

Fishing LicenseCost
One-Day License$17.54
Two-Day License$27.00
Ten-Day Non-Resident License$54.00

Lifetime Fishing License

Fishing LicenseCostDescription
Ages 0-9$594.75California Residents Only
Ages 10-39$972.50California Residents Only
Ages 40-61$876.00California Residents Only
Ages 62+$594.75California Residents Only
Fishing Privilege Package$402.00Includes a lifetime validation for two rods, ocean enhancement stamp, and report cards for Steelhead and Salmon

Where to Buy a California Fishing License

To purchase a California fishing license online, click here to be taken to the state’s website.

To obtain a sport fishing license for CA from licensed agents that can be found using this map.

Or, if you prefer to purchase your sport fishing license at CDFW License Sales Offices, use this page to find a location near you and hours of operation.

Best Fishing Spots in California

Now that you know where to buy a California sport fishing license, it’s time to plan where you will fish. This map is an excellent resource for identifying fishing holes, boat ramps, and tackle shops. Some of the more popular fishing spots in California include:

  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Coronado Ferry Landing Pier
  • Lake Shasta
  • San Luis Reservoir
  • The Delta
  • Russian River
  • McCloud River
  • Castaic Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Lake Almanor
  • Lake Cuyamaca

Common Fish Species in California

Fishing in California allows anglers to catch a diverse array of fish. Some of the more popular fish that are sought after in California include:

Saltwater Fish

  • Yellowfin Tuna
  • Big Eye Tuna
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Wahoo
  • Rockfish
  • Yellowtail
  • Sculpin
  • Barracuda
  • Saltwater Bass
  • Halibut
  • Lingcod

Freshwater Fish

Questions Related to How Much is a Fishing License in California

How many rods can you fish within California?

You can fish with up to two rod and reels in California if you have the proper validation.

Do I need a sport fishing license to fish from a pier in California?

No, you do not need a fishing license to fish from public piers along the Pacific Ocean.

Do I need a sport fishing license in California if I catch and release?

Yes, you need a fishing license to fish in California, even if you are catch-and-release fishing.

Is fishing with corn illegal in California?

No, fishing with corn in California is legal as long as you have a valid sport fishing license and follow the other rules and regulations for fishing in California.

Can you use two hooks in California?

Yes, you are allowed to use two hooks when fishing in California.

What is the fine for fishing without a license in California?

The fine for fishing without a sport fishing license in California is up to $1,000.

Are barbed hooks legal in California?

Yes, barbed hooks are generally legal in California. Although there are exceptions. Barbless hooks are required in the Ocean north of Point Conception when fishing for Salmon or while Salmon is in your possession.


Fishing in Ocean in California

Fishing in California offers anglers both freshwater and saltwater experiences and the opportunity to catch various fish species. California is known for having some of the most serene fishing spots in the country, so it’s no wonder many people want to try their hand at it.

Before heading out, make sure you have the proper sport fishing license for the type of fishing you plan. Also, check out the pages below for guidance on choosing the best fishing gear:

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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