Get Hooked: How to Easily Obtain Your NC State Fishing License

Get Hooked: How to Easily Obtain Your NC State Fishing License

Fishing is a beloved pastime for many North Carolinians, offering a chance to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and reel in a fresh catch. However, before you cast your line, it’s essential to obtain the proper fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of getting your NC state fishing license, ensuring you’re ready to hit the water legally and responsibly.

Why You Need a Fishing License in North Carolina

A fishing license is more than just a legal requirement; it’s an investment in the future of North Carolina’s fisheries. The funds generated from license sales support conservation efforts, habitat restoration, and stocking programs that enhance fishing opportunities for everyone. By purchasing a license, you’re contributing to the long-term sustainability of the state’s aquatic resources.

Additionally, fishing without a valid license can result in fines and legal consequences. To avoid any trouble and enjoy a worry-free fishing experience, make sure you have the appropriate license before heading out.

Types of Fishing Licenses in North Carolina

North Carolina offers a variety of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and preferences. Here are the main types of licenses available:

Inland Fishing Licenses

  • Annual Resident Inland Fishing License: This license is for North Carolina residents aged 16 and older. It allows fishing in all public inland waters, including rivers, streams, and lakes. The cost is $25.00 per year.
  • Annual Nonresident Inland Fishing License: Designed for out-of-state visitors, this license grants the same privileges as the resident version. The fee for nonresidents is $45.00 per year.
  • Short-Term Inland Fishing Licenses: If you only plan to fish for a short period, you can opt for a 10-day license. Residents pay $9.00, while nonresidents pay $23.00 for this option.
  • Lifetime Inland Fishing Licenses: North Carolina also offers lifetime licenses for residents. Prices vary based on age, with options starting at $265.00 for adults.

Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses (CRFL)

To fish in coastal waters, including sounds, saltwater rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll need a Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL). Here are the available options:

  • Annual Resident CRFL: North Carolina residents can purchase this license for $16.00 per year.
  • Annual Nonresident CRFL: Visitors from out-of-state can obtain this license for $32.00 annually.
  • 10-Day CRFL: For short-term fishing trips, residents can get a 10-day license for $6.00, while nonresidents pay $11.00.
  • Lifetime CRFL: Residents can invest in a lifetime CRFL, with prices ranging from $106.00 to $265.00, depending on age.

Exemptions and Special Licenses

Some individuals may be exempt from needing a fishing license or qualify for special licenses:

  • Youth Exemption: Children under the age of 16 can fish without a license as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult.
  • Senior Lifetime Licenses: North Carolina residents aged 70 or older can purchase a discounted lifetime license for $16.00.
  • Disabled Veteran and Totally Disabled Licenses: Qualifying disabled veterans and totally disabled individuals can obtain a discounted lifetime license for $11.00.

Where to Purchase Your NC Fishing License

Obtaining your fishing license is a simple process, with several convenient options available:

  1. Online: Visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s website to purchase your license online using a credit card. You can print your license immediately after the transaction.
  2. Phone: Call the Wildlife Resources Commission’s customer service line at 888-248-6834 to buy your license over the phone. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.
  3. In-Person: Stop by a local Wildlife Service Agent, such as sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, or Walmart. You can find a list of authorized agents on the Wildlife Resources Commission’s website.

Remember to carry your license with you whenever you’re fishing, as wildlife officers may ask to see it. If you purchase your license online or by phone, be sure to print a copy or save it on your mobile device for easy access.

Free Fishing Days in North Carolina

If you’re new to fishing or want to introduce someone to the sport, take advantage of North Carolina’s free fishing days. Typically held on July 4th, these designated days allow anyone to fish without a license in all public waters. It’s a great opportunity to try fishing before committing to a license purchase.

Keep in mind that even on free fishing days, all other regulations, such as size and creel limits, still apply. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules for the specific waters you plan to fish.

Additional Permits and Stamps

Depending on the type of fishing you plan to do, you may need additional permits or stamps:

  • Trout Fishing: If you intend to fish for trout in designated mountain trout waters, you’ll need a separate trout license in addition to your inland fishing license. Residents pay $14.00 per year, while nonresidents pay $24.00.
  • Billfish and Bluefin Tuna: Anglers targeting billfish or bluefin tuna must obtain a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). This permit is required in addition to your CRFL.


Obtaining your NC state fishing license is a simple and essential step in enjoying the wonderful fishing opportunities North Carolina has to offer. By purchasing a license, you’re not only ensuring legal compliance but also supporting the conservation and enhancement of the state’s fisheries for generations to come.

Remember to choose the license type that best suits your needs, whether you’re a resident or visitor, fishing inland or coastal waters, or planning a short or long-term fishing adventure. With your license in hand, you’re ready to cast your line, relax, and make lasting memories in North Carolina’s beautiful waters.

So what are you waiting for? Get hooked on fishing in North Carolina today by obtaining your state fishing license and embarking on an unforgettable angling experience!

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