2022 California Fishing License Costs: What You Need to Know

2024 California Fishing License Costs: Get Your License Now!

Are you ready to cast your line and reel in the catch of a lifetime in California’s stunning waters? Before you embark on your fishing adventure, make sure you have your 2024 California fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the costs, types of licenses available, and everything you need to know to obtain your license and start fishing legally in the Golden State.

Why You Need a California Fishing License

California is home to a diverse array of fish species and world-class fishing spots, from the crystal-clear streams of the Sierra Nevada to the bountiful Pacific Ocean. To ensure the sustainability of these precious resources and to support conservation efforts, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) requires all anglers aged 16 and above to possess a valid fishing license.

By purchasing a fishing license, you’re not only gaining access to incredible fishing opportunities but also contributing to the management and protection of California’s fisheries. Your license fees help fund critical conservation projects, habitat restoration, and fish stocking programs.

2024 California Fishing License Fees

The cost of your California fishing license depends on several factors, including your residency status and the duration of the license you choose. Here’s a breakdown of the fees for 2024:

Annual Licenses

Short-Term Licenses

  • One-Day (Resident & Nonresident): $20.26
  • Two-Day (Resident & Nonresident): $31.06
  • Ten-Day (Nonresident Only): $61.82

Reduced-Fee Licenses

  • Disabled Veterans or Recovering Service Members (if prequalified by CDFW): $9.98
  • Low-Income Seniors (65+ and receiving SSI or CAPI benefits): $9.01

Free Licenses

  • Visually, Mobility, or Developmentally Impaired (if prequalified by CDFW): FREE

It’s important to note that these fees include a 5% license agent handling fee and a 3% nonrefundable application fee.

Types of California Fishing Licenses

Annual Fishing License

The annual fishing license is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. This means if you buy your license on February 1, 2024, it will remain valid until February 1, 2025. An annual license provides the best value for frequent anglers or those planning multiple fishing trips throughout the year.

Short-Term Fishing Licenses

If you’re visiting California or only plan to fish occasionally, short-term licenses offer a convenient and cost-effective option. You can choose from one-day, two-day, or ten-day (nonresidents only) licenses.

Reduced-Fee Fishing Licenses

California offers reduced-fee licenses for certain groups, including disabled veterans, recovering service members, and low-income seniors aged 65 and above who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Cash Assistance Program for Aged, Blind, and Disabled Legal Immigrants (CAPI) benefits. To qualify for a reduced-fee license, you must submit the appropriate documentation and be prequalified by the CDFW.

Free Fishing Licenses

Anglers who are visually, mobility, or developmentally impaired may be eligible for a free fishing license. To obtain a free license, you must provide certification from a licensed physician or optometrist and be prequalified by the CDFW.

How to Purchase a California Fishing License

Obtaining your 2024 California fishing license is a simple process with several convenient options:

  1. Online: Visit the CDFW website (wildlife.ca.gov) to purchase your license securely online. You’ll receive a printable temporary license, and your official license will be mailed to you.
  2. License Agents: Many sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and other authorized license agents throughout California can issue fishing licenses. Use the CDFW’s license agent locator to find a location near you.
  3. CDFW License Sales Offices: You can purchase your license in person at one of the ten CDFW license sales offices located across the state.

When purchasing your license, be prepared to provide your personal information, proof of residency (if applicable), and payment. Acceptable forms of payment may vary depending on the method you choose.

Additional Requirements and Validations

In addition to your fishing license, you may need to obtain specific validations or report cards depending on the type of fishing you plan to do:

Second-Rod Validation

If you want to use a second rod while fishing in inland waters (except where barbless hooks or artificial lures are required), you’ll need to purchase a second-rod validation for $19.44.

Ocean Enhancement Validation

Anglers fishing in ocean waters south of Point Arguello in Santa Barbara County must have an Ocean Enhancement Validation, which costs $7.05. This validation is included with one-day and two-day licenses.

Report Cards

Certain species, such as sturgeon, steelhead, and spiny lobster, require a report card in addition to your fishing license. Report cards help the CDFW monitor and manage these species. Be sure to check the regulations for the specific species you plan to target and obtain the necessary report cards.

California Fishing Regulations

To ensure responsible and sustainable fishing practices, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with California’s fishing regulations. These regulations cover aspects such as:

  • Daily bag and possession limits
  • Size restrictions
  • Seasons and area closures
  • Gear and bait restrictions

The CDFW publishes an annual Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet and Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which contain comprehensive information on the rules and regulations for each region and species. Always review the most current regulations before heading out on your fishing trip.


Obtaining your 2024 California fishing license is an essential step in embarking on an unforgettable angling adventure in the Golden State. By understanding the costs, types of licenses available, and the purchasing process, you’ll be well-prepared to hit the water and enjoy the thrill of the catch.

Remember, your fishing license is more than just a legal requirement—it’s an investment in the future of California’s fisheries and a commitment to preserving our natural resources for generations to come. So, get your license, grab your gear, and get ready to make some incredible fishing memories in California’s stunning waters.

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