Do Children Need a Fishing License in Texas? Find Out Here!

Fishing is a popular pastime in the Lone Star State, with abundant freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal opportunities. However, Texas does require fishing licenses for most anglers to help fund conservation efforts. Thankfully, there are some exemptions in place, especially for young children. So do kids need a license to fish in Texas? The short answer is no. Children under 17 years old do not need a fishing license to fish recreationally in Texas, whether in freshwater or saltwater.

This handy guide covers everything parents and guardians need to know about Texas fishing licenses and regulations for children. We’ll overview license exemptions, rules children still must follow, when licenses become required at 17, where to get kids’ licenses, and tips for responsible fishing with little ones. Let’s dive in!

An Overview of Fishing License Requirements in Texas

In Texas, most anglers need a current fishing license issued by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) in order to fish recreationally in public fresh or salt waters. These funds go towards fisheries management and habitat conservation to preserve quality fishing for generations to come.

Licenses are required for most adults and teens ages 17 and up. But there are a few special exemption categories too, like children under 17, disabled veterans, seniors over 65, and Texas residents born before 1931.

So while Texas has pretty straightforward fishing licensing requirements overall, they do make special allowances for younger kids and seniors to enjoy fishing license-free.

Are children under 17 exempt from needing a Texas fishing license?

One of the biggest license exemptions in Texas is for children under 17 years old. According to TPWD regulations:

“A person who is under 17 years of age is exempt from fishing license requirements.”

This allowance applies to all residents and non-residents under 17. So kids visiting from other states can also fish without purchasing a Texas license.

And this exemption includes both freshwater and saltwater fishing. So children can fish recreationally in lakes, rivers, streams, surf, bays, jetties, piers, and more without needing any kind of fishing license.

What Rules Do Under-17-Year-Olds Still Need to Follow?

While they don’t need a TPWD fishing license, children under 17 do still need to follow all other regulations while fishing recreationally.

  • Bag and size limits still apply for each fish species, so be sure young anglers know the legal sizes and possession numbers they can keep.
  • Freshwater or saltwater endorsements may be required in certain areas. These are add-ons to the core fishing license.
  • General statewide rules and restrictions must be followed related to tackle, species, water bodies, etc.

So while kids don’t need the actual fishing license documentation, parents and guardians still need to educate them on responsible fishing rules. Consider picking up a regulation guidebook or downloading the app so everyone knows size and bag specifics for your area.

What other fishing license exemptions exist in Texas?

In addition to the under-17 age allowance, Texas offers fishing license exemptions and discounts for other groups too.

Texas Residents Born Before January 1, 1931

Texas residents born prior to 1931 can fish recreationally without needing a license. So if you happen to know any centenarians who love to fish, let them know they’re covered license-free!

Military Veterans with Disabilities

Resident disabled veterans (with a rating of 50% or higher) can fish recreationally without a license. They must carry proof of eligibility.

Fishing With Disabilities

Texas residents who are mentally or physically disabled (loss of limb) may qualify for license exemptions. A doctor’s statement is required as proof.

Reciprocal Agreements With Neighboring States

Some reciprocal license agreements exist with bordering states.

  • Louisiana seniors (65+) possessing a Louisiana license can also fish recreationally in Texas waters without needing a Texas license.
  • Texas recently enacted a similar exemption for Oklahoma residents over 65 with an Oklahoma lifetime senior fishing/hunting license.

So in certain cases, out-of-state anglers may be able to fish license-free due to special reciprocal allowances.

At What Age Do Children Need to Purchase a Texas Fishing License?

While kids under 17 don’t need a Texas fishing license, the exemption does expire once they turn 17.

At age 17, all Texas anglers must purchase the appropriate fishing license to fish recreationally, whether in freshwater or saltwater. This includes both residents and visitors.

Licenses can be purchased for a year, a day, or even just for 45 days. Prices range from around $11 for a one-day all-water license up to $47 for a full year. Discounted youth licenses are available for anglers between 17 and 20 years old.

So once a teen turns 17, be sure to purchase the proper TPWD fishing license before heading out; otherwise, they risk getting fined for fishing without one!

Where Can You Get Fishing Licenses for Children?

When young anglers do turn 17 or simply want to purchase a voluntary license earlier, fishing licenses can easily be obtained through TPWD.

  • Over 1,700 retailers across Texas sell licenses including bait & tackle shops, sporting goods stores, grocery stores and more. Just search the locator here.
  • Buy all types of fishing licenses online through TPWD with immediate digital delivery to print at home.
  • The My Texas Hunt Harvest smartphone app also allows digital license purchases 24/7.

And a reminder that children’s licenses are valid from the purchase date through August 31 each year. So they can get over a year’s fishing with one license if buying early in the season.

Tips for Responsible Fishing With Children

Getting kids hooked on fishing early provides lifelong memories plus teaches conservation values. When taking little ones fishing, be sure to set them up for success with these tips:

Know the Regulations

  • Brush up on fishing seasons, size/bag limits, and tackle rules. This ensures everyone follows regulations.

Promote Stewardship

  • Encourage catch & release, especially for smaller fish.
  • Discuss why conservation matters for the future.

Focus on Safety

  • Outfit them appropriately with hats, sunscreen, life jackets if needed, etc.
  • Remind about casting safely and removing hooks carefully.

Most importantly, make it fun! Kids will cherish the quality time outdoors. And soon enough you’ll have dedicated young anglers by your side.


In summary, children under 17 years old do NOT need a recreational fishing license to fish Texas fresh or salt waters – whether residents or visitors. But starting at 17, all anglers must purchase the proper license.

While exempt from licensing pre-17, most other fishing regulations still apply for youngsters like size/bag limits, area rules, etc. So be sure kids understand responsible fishing practices before hitting the water. Tight lines!

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