Complete Guide to Fishing Licenses for Pickwick Lake

Spanning portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, Pickwick Lake is a premier fishing destination that attracts anglers from across the region. With its diverse fish populations and scenic beauty, it’s no wonder why so many flock to these waters. However, before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the fishing license requirements to ensure you stay compliant and avoid any potential fines or legal issues.

The problem is that the licensing rules can seem complex, especially with the lake situated across three states. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide. As avid anglers with years of experience fishing Pickwick Lake, we’ll break down exactly what licenses you need, where to get them, and everything else you should know to plan a successful and hassle-free fishing trip.

Reciprocal License Agreements

One of the most important things to understand about fishing Pickwick Lake is the reciprocal license agreement between Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. This means that if you have a valid sport fishing license from any of those three states, you can fish anywhere on Pickwick Lake that falls within the reciprocal boundaries.

The reciprocal boundaries extend from Pickwick Dam upstream to Tennessee River Mile 224.8 at the mouth of the Bear Creek embayment. So as long as you’re fishing within that zone, your resident license from any of the three states will be honored, regardless of which state’s waters you are actually in.

However, it’s important to note that you must still abide by the fishing regulations of whichever state you are physically in at the time. So be sure to brush up on the rules for size and creel limits, seasons, and allowable fishing methods for that particular state.

State-Specific License Requirements

While the reciprocal agreement provides convenience, there are still some state-specific licensing requirements and options to be aware of. Let’s break it down by state:


  • Alabama residents ages 16-64 need a valid sport fishing license to fish the Alabama portions of Pickwick Lake. You can purchase this as an annual or short-term trip license.
  • Non-residents have the option of a 1-day, 3-day, 7-day or annual fishing license to fish in Alabama waters. License prices vary by residency and duration.


  • A Mississippi fishing license is required for all anglers 16-65 years old to fish the Mississippi portions of Pickwick Lake.
  • Both residents and non-residents can purchase a freshwater fishing license, with annual and short-term options available.
  • Mississippi licenses can be conveniently purchased online or at the J.P. Coleman State Park office (cash/credit only).


  • Tennessee residents ages 13 and up need a valid fishing license to fish the Tennessee portions of Pickwick Lake.
  • Non-residents have a range of license options, from 1-day to annual, with or without trout fishing privileges. Prices vary based on residency and selected options.
  • Tennessee fishing licenses can be easily purchased online, by phone, or at various sporting goods stores and license agents.

As you can see, each state has slightly different age requirements and license options. Be sure to review the specific regulations for the state(s) where you plan to fish.

Creel and Size Limits

Another crucial aspect of staying compliant while fishing Pickwick Lake is understanding and following the creel and size limits for various fish species. These regulations help maintain healthy and sustainable fish populations.

Some of the key limits to be aware of include:

  • Black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted): 5 per day combined, with a 15″ minimum length for largemouth and smallmouth. There is no minimum length for spotted bass.
  • Crappie: 30 per day combined, with a 9″ minimum length. This applies to all crappie species.
  • Catfish: No limit for fish under 34″, but only 1 catfish over 34″ may be kept per day. This helps protect larger, trophy-sized catfish.

Be sure to also check the regulations for other species like white bass, yellow bass, sauger, walleye and paddlefish, as they may have specific daily limits or seasons.

It’s important to note that culling (releasing fish and replacing them with larger ones) is prohibited for certain species like paddlefish and trout. So once you reach your daily limit, you must stop fishing for that species.

Fishing License Costs

The cost of fishing licenses for Pickwick Lake will vary depending on your age, residency, license type and duration. Here’s a quick overview of some common license options and prices:

Alabama Resident License Costs

  • Annual Freshwater Fishing: $14.05
  • 1-Day Freshwater Fishing: $6.35
  • Lifetime Freshwater Fishing: $11.15-$220.75 (prices vary by age)

Alabama Non-Resident License Costs

  • Annual Freshwater Fishing: $51.85
  • 7-Day Trip Freshwater Fishing: $29.50
  • 3-Day Trip Freshwater Fishing: $20.90

Mississippi Resident License Costs

  • Annual Freshwater Fishing: $8.00
  • 3-Day Freshwater Fishing: $3.00
  • Lifetime Freshwater Fishing: $117.29-$462.29 (prices vary by age)

Mississippi Non-Resident License Costs

  • Annual Freshwater Fishing: $60.00
  • 3-Day Freshwater Fishing: $27.00
  • 1-Day Freshwater Fishing: $8.00

Tennessee Resident License Costs

  • Annual Fishing: $34.00
  • 1-Day Fishing: $11.00
  • Annual Trout: $22.00

Tennessee Non-Resident License Costs

  • Annual Fishing: $50.00
  • 1-Day Fishing: $10.50
  • 3-Day Fishing: $20.50
  • 10-Day Fishing: $30.50

Keep in mind that many states also offer combination hunting/fishing licenses and special prices for youth, seniors, and disabled individuals. Check each state’s official wildlife agency website for the complete list of license options, prices and discounts available.

Where to Get Your License

Fishing licenses for Pickwick Lake can be conveniently purchased both online and in-person, depending on your preference and which state you’re buying for. Here are the main options:

Online License Purchase:

Buying your license online is fast, easy and convenient. You can print out a copy immediately after purchase.

In-Person License Purchase:

  • Authorized License Agents: Most sporting goods stores, bait shops, and marinas near Pickwick Lake will sell fishing licenses in-person. Call ahead to confirm.
  • State Park Offices: Some state parks, like J.P. Coleman in Mississippi, sell fishing licenses at the park office.
  • County Clerk Offices: In many counties, you can buy a fishing license in-person at the county clerk or probate office.

If you’re already in the Pickwick Lake area, buying your license in-person can be a good option. Just be sure to bring valid identification and cash/credit card for payment.


As you can see, understanding the fishing license requirements for Pickwick Lake is essential for any angler looking to explore these incredible waters. While it may seem a bit complicated at first, it really boils down to two main things:

  1. Get a valid fishing license from Alabama, Mississippi or Tennessee (and make sure you’re abiding by that state’s regulations when fishing in their waters).
  2. Familiarize yourself with the creel and size limits for the main species you plan to target. This will help you stay compliant and avoid any potential fines.

By following these guidelines and purchasing the appropriate licenses, you’ll be all set to enjoy a fun, safe and legal fishing adventure on Pickwick Lake.

We hope this guide has been helpful and informative in breaking down the licensing requirements. As always, feel free to reach out to the respective state wildlife agencies if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Now get out there, bait up those hooks, and get ready to reel in some unforgettable Pickwick Lake fishing memories! Just don’t forget that license first.

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