Do Kids Need a Fishing License? Know the State Regulations

Do Kids Need a Fishing License? Know the State Regulations

For an experienced angler or anyone with knowledge of fishing license processes, the question may arise – do children require fishing licenses to participate? It’s not an entirely straightforward answer as the regulations can differ from state to state. The following is a comprehensive guide on understanding the regulations pertaining to children and fishing licenses in the U.S.

Do Kids Need a Fishing License? Know the State Regulations

Types of Fishing Licenses

Before we navigate the complexities of children’s regulations, it’s important to comprehend the various types of fishing licenses in the U.S:

  • Resident Fishing License: Specifically for residents of a particular state.
  • Non-Resident Fishing License: Intended for non-residents of a state.
  • Special Permits: These licenses cater to unique types of fishing such as trout or saltwater fishing.

Each license type carries specific regulations, generally permitting both freshwater and saltwater fishing in any public waterway within the state.

Regulations for Children

A majority of the states do not necessitate children below a certain age to possess a fishing license. The age limit fluctuates from state to state, usually hovering around 16 years. However, certain states such as Maryland and Michigan may require fishing licenses for children as young as 12 years old. Thus, it’s crucial to verify your state’s regulations before planning a fishing trip.

In situations where a fishing license is mandatory for children, they need to procure a license akin to any other angler. The cost of a fishing license for children is generally lower than that for an adult. Some states even offer free fishing days where children can experiment with fishing without any financial commitment.

Notably, even when a fishing license isn’t obligatory for children, adherence to all state fishing regulations is still mandatory. This includes catch limits, size limits, and seasonal restrictions. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in penalties and fines, applicable to minors as well.

Instilling Responsible Fishing Habits in Children

Fishing offers a fun-filled activity for children while also serving as an excellent platform to inculcate lessons about conservation and responsible fishing habits. Here are a few pointers for teaching children to fish responsibly:

  • Encourage releasing fish back into the water if they aren’t planned for consumption.
  • Emphasize the significance of catch limits and size limits to safeguard fish populations.
  • Demonstrate the correct way to handle fish to prevent any harm.
  • Teach them to appropriately dispose of fishing lines and other waste to protect the environment.

To sum it up, regulations regarding children and fishing licenses fluctuate by state, making it essential to verify the rules before embarking on a fishing expedition. Regardless of whether a fishing license is required, children must abide by all state fishing regulations to ensure they are fishing responsibly and contributing to the preservation of our natural resources. For more specific information, check out our Fishing License Requirements by State guide.


Do kids need a fishing license to fish in every state?

No, fishing license requirements for children vary by state. Some states allow children under a certain age to fish without a license, while others require all anglers to have a license regardless of their age. It’s important to check the regulations in your state before heading out.

At what age do kids need a fishing license?

Once again, this can vary by state. In some states, children under 12 can fish without a license, while in others, the age limit may be higher. Some states may also offer discounted licenses for children under a certain age. Be sure to check your state’s regulations.

Do kids need a separate fishing license, or can they be covered under a parent’s license?

This depends on the state. Some states allow children to fish under a parent’s license or permit, while others require a separate license for each angler. In some cases, a parent may be required to have a separate license for each child they are accompanying. Check with your state’s fishing regulations to know for sure.

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