Fishing in Arkansas: Do You Need a License Now?

Fishing in Arkansas 2024: Comprehensive Guide to Licensing and Regulations

Arkansas, known as “The Natural State,” is a paradise for anglers, offering diverse fishing opportunities in its numerous lakes, rivers, and streams. Whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, it’s essential to understand the state’s fishing license requirements and regulations to ensure a hassle-free and enjoyable fishing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license and complying with the regulations in Arkansas for the year 2024.

Licensing Requirements


Arkansas residents aged 16 and older are required to possess a valid fishing license to fish in the state’s public waters. The following licenses are available for residents:

  • Resident Fisheries Conservation License: This annual license allows residents to fish in all public waters within the state.
  • Resident 3-Day Trip Fishing License: Perfect for short fishing trips or weekend getaways, this license is valid for three consecutive days.
  • Resident Sportsman’s Lifetime Combination License and Permit: This lifetime license covers fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities.
  • Resident Natural State Lifetime Combination License and Permit: Similar to the Sportsman’s Lifetime Combination License, this option includes additional privileges.
  • Resident 65 Plus Lifetime Fishing License (or Resident 65 Plus Lifetime Combination License): Available for residents aged 65 and older, this lifetime license covers fishing or a combination of fishing and hunting.
  • Resident 65 Plus Annual Fishing License (or Resident 65 Plus Annual Combination License): An annual option for residents aged 65 and older, covering fishing or a combination of fishing and hunting.
  • Disabled Lifetime Fishing License (or Resident Disabled Lifetime Combination License): Available for residents with disabilities, this lifetime license covers fishing or a combination of fishing and hunting.
  • Resident Disabled Fishing 3-Year License (or Resident Disabled Combination 3-Year License): A 3-year option for residents with disabilities, covering fishing or a combination of fishing and hunting.
  • Resident Disabled Military Veteran Lifetime Fishing License (or Resident Disabled Military Veteran Lifetime Combination License or Resident Disabled Military Veteran Lifetime Combination License and Permit): Available for disabled military veterans, this lifetime license covers fishing or a combination of fishing and hunting, with additional permit options.


Non-residents aged 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license to fish in Arkansas’ public waters. The following licenses are available for non-residents:

  • Annual Non-Resident Fishing License: Valid for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31), this license is perfect for frequent visitors or those planning extended stays.
  • 3-Day Non-Resident Fishing License: Ideal for short fishing trips or weekend getaways, this license is valid for three consecutive days.
  • 14-Day Non-Resident Fishing License: Suitable for longer vacations or multiple fishing excursions, this license is valid for 14 consecutive days.
  • Non-Resident Trout Permit: Required in addition to a fishing license when fishing in designated trout waters or harvesting trout. Available as an annual or 3-day permit.

It’s important to note that fishing licenses are not transferable and must be carried while fishing.

Purchasing Licenses

Fishing licenses can be purchased through various convenient methods:

  • Online: Visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) online licensing system to purchase your license instantly. You can print a temporary license immediately after the transaction.
  • Phone: Call the AGFC toll-free number at 1-800-364-GAME (4263) to purchase your license over the phone.
  • In-Person: Visit authorized license vendors, such as sporting goods stores, bait shops, and some convenience stores throughout Arkansas.

When purchasing your license, be prepared to provide personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and a valid form of identification.

Fishing Regulations

In addition to obtaining a fishing license, anglers must familiarize themselves with Arkansas’ fishing regulations. These regulations cover aspects such as:

  • Seasons and Hours: Specific seasons and hours may apply to certain species or bodies of water.
  • Daily Catch Limits: Limits on the number of fish that can be caught and kept per day.
  • Size Restrictions: Minimum or maximum size limits may be in place for certain species.
  • Gear and Bait Restrictions: Regulations on the types of fishing gear and bait that can be used.
  • Boating and Access Rules: Rules governing boating and access to certain fishing areas.

The AGFC publishes an annual Fishing Guidebook that details all the regulations. It’s available online and in print at license vendors and AGFC offices. Always review the guidebook before your fishing trip to ensure compliance and stay updated on any changes.

Some species, such as trout, may require anglers to report their catch to the AGFC. This helps the agency monitor and manage fish populations effectively. Reporting requirements are outlined in the Fishing Guidebook and on the AGFC website.

Fishing Opportunities in Arkansas

Arkansas offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities, catering to anglers of all skill levels and preferences. Here are some of the top fishing destinations and species to target:

Trout Fishing

Arkansas is renowned for its excellent trout fishing opportunities, with four different trout species thriving in the state’s waters. The most sought-after species are:

  • Brown Trout: These European immigrants have put down roots and are maintaining their population independently, reaching record sizes in Arkansas.
  • Rainbow Trout: The most commonly stocked trout species in Arkansas, Rainbow Trout can be found in abundance throughout the state’s designated trout waters.

Popular trout fishing destinations include the Little Red River, the White River, and the Ouachita Mountains region.

Bass Fishing

Arkansas is a haven for bass anglers, with several species of bass thriving in the state’s waters:

  • Largemouth Bass: Thanks to Arkansas’ stocking program, you can find abundant populations of Largemouth Bass across the state, with Lake Dardanelle being one of the best destinations.
  • Striped Bass: Native to America’s Atlantic coast, Striped Bass have been successfully introduced in Arkansas and can reach impressive sizes, with specimens weighing over 40 pounds found in lakes like Lake Ouachita, Beaver Lake, and the Arkansas River.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Ideal for fly fishing enthusiasts, Smallmouth Bass can be found in the state’s mountain streams and tailwaters.

The summer months are considered the best time for bass fishing in Arkansas.

Other Species

Arkansas offers a diverse array of other fish species for anglers to target, including:

  • Bream (Panfish): Tasty species like Bluegill and Redear Sunfish are native to Arkansas and are also stocked in many waters.
  • Catfish: Commercial fishing for catfish was born in Arkansas, and recreational fishing for species like Blue Catfish in the Mississippi River is hugely popular.
  • Rough Fish: Species like Buffalo are an Ozark specialty and provide unique fishing opportunities.

Guided Fishing Trips

While fishing can be a simple activity, Arkansas’ unique dams and tailwaters can add an element of surprise and challenge. Guided fishing trips can be an excellent way to maximize your fishing experience, especially if you’re new to the area or targeting specific species.

Experienced guides can provide valuable insights into the best fishing spots, techniques, and tackle to use, as well as ensure compliance with local regulations. They can also offer a deeper understanding of the local ecosystem and conservation efforts, enhancing your overall fishing experience.

Conservation Efforts

By purchasing a fishing license in Arkansas, you contribute to the long-term sustainability of the state’s fishing resources. The revenue generated from license sales directly funds the AGFC’s various programs, including:

  • Fish stocking
  • Habitat restoration and management
  • Access improvements
  • Angler education
  • Research and monitoring

Supporting these conservation efforts ensures enjoyable angling experiences for generations to come.


Fishing in Arkansas is an unforgettable experience, offering anglers the opportunity to explore the state’s diverse waterways and target a wide range of species. By obtaining the appropriate fishing license and familiarizing yourself with the regulations, you can embark on a hassle-free and rewarding fishing adventure in “The Natural State.” Remember to respect the environment, practice ethical angling, and contribute to the conservation efforts that sustain Arkansas’ rich fishing heritage.

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