Get Hooked: 10-Day Fishing Licenses in NC for under $20!

Are you an avid angler looking to explore the diverse fishing opportunities in North Carolina without breaking the bank? Look no further! North Carolina offers affordable 10-day fishing licenses for both residents and non-residents, allowing you to enjoy the state’s excellent fishing at a fraction of the cost of annual licenses. As someone who has successfully used these short-term licenses to fish NC’s coastal and inland waters, I can attest to their value and convenience.

Types of NC Fishing Licenses

Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL)

If you plan to fish in North Carolina’s coastal and joint waters, you’ll need a Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL). The 10-day CRFL costs just $5 for residents and $11 for non-residents, making it an affordable option for short fishing trips. This license is valid for fishing in the state’s coastal waters, which include the Atlantic Ocean out to three miles, as well as estuarine waters like sounds and saltwater rivers. It also covers joint waters managed by both the Division of Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Commission.

Inland Fishing License

For those looking to fish in North Carolina’s inland waters, which include freshwater rivers, lakes, and streams, an Inland Fishing License is required. The 10-day version costs $9 for residents and $23 for non-residents. One advantage of the inland license is that it includes trout fishing privileges, giving you access to the state’s excellent trout waters in addition to warmwater fisheries. Keep in mind that inland licenses are not valid for fishing in coastal waters.

How to Choose the Right License

With multiple license options available, it’s important to choose the one that best fits your fishing plans. Start by determining where you intend to fish. If you’ll be targeting coastal species like red drum, flounder, and sea trout, go with the CRFL. For freshwater fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and trout, an inland license is the way to go. If you plan to fish joint waters, either license will suffice.

Next, consider the duration of your fishing trip. If you’ll only be fishing for a short period, a 10-day license offers significant savings compared to annual licenses. However, if you plan to fish frequently throughout the year, an annual or even lifetime license may be more cost-effective in the long run.

Finally, if you enjoy both fishing and hunting, consider a combo license that covers both activities. North Carolina offers several sportsman licenses that include both hunting and fishing privileges at a discounted rate compared to purchasing separate licenses.

Where to Purchase a License

Buying a North Carolina fishing license is a simple process with several convenient options:

  1. Online through the Wildlife Resources Commission website or authorized third-party sites
  2. In person at wildlife service agents like bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and some retail chains
  3. By phone by calling the Wildlife Resources Commission at 888-248-6834

Be sure to have a valid form of payment and proof of residency if applying for a resident license. Once purchased, you can download and print your license or save a digital copy on your phone for easy access while fishing.

Fishing Regulations to Know

Before hitting the water, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with North Carolina’s fishing regulations to ensure you’re fishing legally and responsibly. Size and creel limits vary by species and location, so check the current regulations for the specific waters you plan to fish.

Some species like red drum have slot limits, meaning you can only keep fish within a certain size range. Others like striped bass may be catch-and-release only during certain times of the year. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, so take the time to review the regulations and stay up-to-date on any changes.

Top Fishing Spots that Allow 10-Day Licenses

North Carolina offers world-class fishing opportunities from the mountains to the coast. Here are a few top destinations where you can put your 10-day license to good use:

  • Outer Banks – This string of barrier islands is renowned for its excellent surf fishing and inshore angling for species like red drum, speckled trout, and flounder. Oregon Inlet is a particularly popular spot for both shore and boat fishing.
  • Piedmont lakes – Central North Carolina is home to numerous large reservoirs like Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, and Lake Norman that offer outstanding fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. Many of these lakes have public access areas and boat ramps, making them easily accessible for short fishing trips.
  • Mountain streams – The western part of the state boasts thousands of miles of trout streams, from large rivers like the French Broad to small creeks in the Great Smoky Mountains. With a 10-day inland license, you can fish for brook, brown, and rainbow trout in these scenic waters.


North Carolina’s 10-day fishing licenses offer an affordable and flexible way to enjoy the state’s diverse fisheries without committing to a full year. Whether you’re a resident looking for a quick fishing getaway or a non-resident visiting on vacation, these short-term licenses provide access to a wide range of angling opportunities in both coastal and inland waters.

By purchasing a license, you’re not only following the law but also supporting conservation efforts that help preserve fishing for future generations. So grab your gear, buy a 10-day license, and get out there and fish! With options starting at just $5, there’s no excuse not to get hooked on North Carolina’s incredible fishing.

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