Fishing License in Tennessee: How Much Does it Really Cost?

Fishing License in Tennessee: How Much Does it Really Cost?

Fishing in Tennessee offers a unique blend of opportunities for both newcomers and experienced anglers. Whether you’re exploring freshwater lakes or navigating more challenging environments, Tennessee stands as an angler’s haven. But before you set out, it’s vital to be well-versed in the legalities surrounding Tennessee fishing licenses. This guide serves as a comprehensive resource, covering types of licenses, the purchase process, and associated costs, among other key aspects.

Fishing License in Tennessee: How Much Does it Really Cost?

Why Do You Need a Fishing License in Tennessee?

Fishing is not just a leisure activity; it’s a regulated practice that has significant implications for local ecosystems and wildlife. In Tennessee, like in many other states, you are required to have a fishing license to engage in this activity. But why is this so crucial? Let’s delve into the legal requirements and the benefits that come with having a fishing license.

Legal Requirements

Wildlife Conservation

When you purchase a fishing license, a portion of the fee goes directly to conservation efforts. These funds are used for various purposes, such as habitat restoration, fish stocking, and research. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), in 2020 alone, over $5 million were allocated to conservation projects from fishing license sales. This financial contribution is vital for maintaining the biodiversity of Tennessee’s water bodies and ensuring that future generations can also enjoy fishing.

Regulation Compliance

Having a fishing license means that you are aware of, and agree to comply with, the fishing regulations set forth by the state of Tennessee. These regulations include size and bag limits, fishing seasons, and restricted areas. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and even legal consequences. For instance, fishing without a valid license can lead to a fine of up to $500 and the possibility of imprisonment for up to 30 days.

Benefits of Licensing

Resource Management

The funds generated from fishing licenses enable the TWRA to manage the state’s aquatic resources effectively. This includes monitoring fish populations, conducting surveys, and implementing management plans. Effective resource management ensures that the fish populations are sustainable and that the aquatic ecosystems are balanced.


A fishing license also serves as a tool for educating anglers about safe fishing practices. Before obtaining a license, you are often required to take a safety course that covers essential topics like proper handling of fishing equipment, first aid, and water safety. This education is crucial for preventing accidents and ensuring a safe fishing experience for everyone.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Tennessee

Navigating the world of fishing licenses can be a bit overwhelming, especially with the various options available. In Tennessee, the types of fishing licenses you can obtain are primarily categorized based on residency and duration. Below, we delve into the specifics of each category, providing you with actionable steps and advice.

Resident vs Non-Resident

Criteria for Residency

To qualify for a resident fishing license in Tennessee, you generally must have resided in the state for at least six months. This is a crucial distinction because resident licenses are typically less expensive than non-resident licenses.


When applying for a resident license, you’ll need to provide proof of residency. Acceptable forms of documentation include a valid Tennessee driver’s license or a utility bill that shows your Tennessee address. Failure to provide adequate proof can result in your application being denied.

Short-Term vs Annual Licenses

Short-Term Licenses

Short-term fishing licenses are ideal for tourists or those who fish occasionally. These are available for various durations, including one-day and three-day options. For non-residents, a one-day fishing permit for all species is available for $6.50. Three-day permits are also available for $20.50 or $40.50 if you wish to include trout fishing.

Annual Licenses

If you’re an avid angler who plans to fish multiple times throughout the year, an annual license is the most cost-effective option. For residents, the minimum annual fishing license costs $34 and covers basic fishing and small game. An additional trout fishing permit costs $22 annually. For non-residents, an annual fishing license is $50, and an annual permit that includes trout fishing is $99.

Special Permits

In addition to the standard fishing licenses, special permits are required for both residents and non-residents ages 13 and up for specific locations like Gatlinburg, Tellico-Citico, Agency Lake, and Bedford Lake. For example, a one-day trout permit for Gatlinburg is $11.50 and requires no additional licensing.

How to Get Your Fishing License in Tennessee

Obtaining a fishing license in Tennessee is a straightforward process that can be completed either online or in-person. Below, we provide a comprehensive guide on how to go about it, ensuring you have all the necessary information to make your fishing trip both legal and enjoyable.

Online Method

Visit the Official Website

The first step in obtaining your fishing license online is to navigate to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s official website. This is the go-to platform for all things related to fishing and hunting licenses in Tennessee. The website is user-friendly and provides a wealth of information to guide you through the process.

Select License Type

Once on the website, you’ll have the option to choose between various types of licenses. These include resident, non-resident, short-term, and annual licenses. Make sure to select the one that best suits your needs. For instance, if you’re a resident who plans to fish frequently, an annual license would be the most cost-effective choice.


After selecting the appropriate license type, you’ll be prompted to complete the payment process. The website accepts all major credit and debit cards. Once the payment is confirmed, you’ll receive a digital copy of your license, which you can print for your records.

In-Person Method

Retail Locations

If you prefer the traditional route, fishing licenses are available at various retail locations across Tennessee. This includes large chain stores like Walmart, as well as specialized fishing and hunting shops. Simply walk in, request the type of license you need, and make the payment.

Government Offices

Some local government offices also offer fishing licenses. This is particularly useful if you’re in a remote area without access to retail stores. Just make sure to bring identification and any other required documentation.

Costs Involved

Navigating the financial aspects of obtaining a fishing license in Tennessee can be complex, but it’s crucial for compliance with state laws. Here, we break down the costs involved for both residents and non-residents, along with some frequently asked questions to guide you through the process.

Resident License Costs


For adults aged between 16 and 64, the Annual Hunting and Fishing Combination License is priced at $33. This is the minimum license required for fishing and/or hunting small game in Tennessee.


For young anglers aged between 13 and 15, a Junior Hunt/Fish/Trap License is available for $9. This license is good for hunting all game, fishing, and trapping. It must be purchased prior to the 16th birthday and no supplemental licenses are required.

Seniors and Veterans

For seniors aged 65 and over, there are two options. The Annual Resident Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap License is available for $4, while a Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap License can be obtained for a one-time fee of $49. Both of these licenses are available at all license agents and can only be purchased when the 65th birthday is reached.

Non-Resident License Costs

Short-Term Licenses

For those visiting Tennessee, a Three-Day Fishing License without trout is available for $20. If you plan to stay a bit longer, a Ten-Day Fishing License without trout is priced at $30.

Annual Licenses

For non-residents who are avid anglers, an Annual All Species License that includes trout is available for $98.

License Type Cost for Residents Cost for Non-Residents
Adult $33 $98 (Annual All Species)
Junior $9 $10 (Junior Hunt/Fish)
Senior $4 (Annual), $49 (Permanent) N/A


What are the penalties for fishing without a license?

Fishing without a license in Tennessee can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment. The exact penalties can vary depending on the severity of the offense and whether it’s a first-time violation.

How can I renew my fishing license?

Renewing your fishing license can be done online through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s official website or at various retail locations.

Are there any exemptions to the licensing requirements?

Yes, children under the age of 16 and military personnel on active duty in Tennessee are exempt from requiring a fishing license. However, some permits may still apply.


Engaging in fishing in Tennessee isn’t merely a pastime; it’s an activity deeply rooted in environmental stewardship. By securing a valid fishing license, you’re adhering to Tennessee state law and aiding in wildlife conservation efforts. So, don’t hesitate. Acquire your license through a TWRA license agent or online, and relish the responsible fishing experience that Tennessee has to offer.

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