How to Get Your Fishing License in California

Are you a new angler looking to explore the abundant fishing opportunities in California? If so, you’ll need a fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in California, from the costs associated with different types of licenses to the regulations you need to follow.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License in California?

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s address why you need a fishing license in the first place. The license requirement is intended to protect fish populations so that generations of anglers will continue to enjoy this pastime. The funds from fishing licenses help pay for fishery conservation, education, and other valuable programs.

Types of Fishing Licenses in California

California offers a variety of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and circumstances. Here’s a breakdown:

  • One-Day License: Ideal for short-term fishing trips. Costs $19.18 for both residents and non-residents.
  • Two-Day License: Designed for a weekend getaway. Costs $29.42 for both residents and non-residents.
  • Ten-Day Non-Resident License: Designed for non-residents planning an extended fishing trip. Costs $58.58.
  • Annual License: For avid anglers who fish year-round. Costs $58.58 for residents and $158.25 for non-residents.
  • Lifetime License: Available for California state residents only. This license allows you to receive a new annual fishing license each year for as long as you want to fish. The cost varies depending on the age of the angler.

In addition to these, California offers special licenses for Disabled Veterans, Recovering Service Members, Low-Income Seniors, and others at a reduced rate.

How to Purchase a Fishing License in California

You can purchase a California sportfishing license directly from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, either online or at one of their license sales offices. Walmart, Big 5 Sporting Goods, local tackle shops, and other licensed retailers also sell sportfishing licenses.

When You Don’t Need a Fishing License in California

There are a few situations where you don’t need a license:

  • You don’t need a license to fish on public piers.
  • You don’t need a license on Free Fishing Days.
  • Anglers under 16 don’t need a license, but they do need a report card for some species.

Regulations to Keep in Mind

There are additional local, state, and federal laws that may apply to fishing. It is your responsibility to know and follow the law when participating in these activities.

Contact Information

For more information, you can contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:


Fishing in California offers a unique experience for every angler, from the novice to the seasoned pro. Whether you’re planning a short trip or looking to fish year-round, understanding the licensing requirements is the first step to a successful fishing adventure. Happy fishing!

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