In the state of Texas, the rules surrounding fishing licenses are clear and straightforward. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, children under 17 years of age are exempt from needing a fishing license . This means that if you are 16 or younger, you can fish in the public waters of Texas without a license.
Understanding the Rules
The exemption applies to both residents and non-residents under 17 years of age . This means that whether you live in Texas or are visiting, if you are 16 or younger, you do not need a fishing license. However, it’s important to note that this exemption does not extend to adults accompanying minors. If an adult is instructing or accompanying a minor while fishing, the adult would need a fishing license .
Here’s a detailed breakdown of some of the key rules:
- License Requirements: Any person who fishes in the public waters of Texas needs a current Texas fishing license with the appropriate endorsement. A saltwater endorsement is required to fish in coastal waters, and a freshwater endorsement is required for inland waters . However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, children under 17 years of age, Texas residents born before January 1, 1931, and Texas residents who are 65 years of age and older and who were born after January 1, 1931 are exempt from license requirements .
- Bag Limits: Each licensed or exempt angler in the boat is entitled to keep one daily bag limit, except on guided fishing trips, where the boat limit is equal to the daily bag limit multiplied by the number of licensed/exempt anglers on board, minus the guide and any deck hands employed by the guide .
- Bait Regulations: It is unlawful to use any game fish or part of a game fish as bait. Live fish, including personally caught live bait, cannot be transported from the water body where the fish were caught in or aboard a vessel in water from the water body where the fish were caught .
- Special Areas and Restrictions: Any fish that are retained by using any type of holding device such as a stringer, cooler, livewell, or bucket are considered in an angler’s possession and must adhere to established length and bag limits .
- License Requirements: Every hunter (including out-of-state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Course. Proof of certification or deferral is required to be on your person while hunting, either printed or electronically .
- Age requirements: If you are under 9 years old and were born on or after September 2, 1971, you must be with a person (resident or non-resident) who is at least 17 years old, has a Texas hunting license, has completed hunter education, or is exempt (born before September 2, 1971), and you must be within normal voice control. If you are age 9 through 16, you must successfully complete a hunter education course or be accompanied. If you are age 17 and over, you must successfully complete a hunter education course or purchase a “Hunter Education Deferral” and be accompanied .
- Military & Law Enforcement Hunter Education Exemptions: Active duty members and honorably discharged veterans of the United States armed forces, active duty members or those who have previously served as members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, or the Texas State Guard, or persons who are serving or have previously served as a peace officer are exempt from requirements to complete a hunter education course to hunt in Texas .
Remember, these are just some of the rules and regulations. For a comprehensive understanding, you should refer to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s official resources or consult with a local expert.
Fishing License Packages
For those who are 17 or older, Texas offers a variety of fishing license packages. These include resident, senior resident, and non-resident fishing licenses, each with different fees . The packages can be tailored to include freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, or both (all-water package) .
The Freshwater Packages include a resident, senior resident, or non-resident fishing license valid from the date of sale to August 31 of the same year and a freshwater endorsement. The Senior Freshwater Package is available to any Texas resident who is at least 65 years of age and was born on or after January 1, 1931. The fees for these packages are as follows:
- Resident Freshwater Package: $30
- Senior Freshwater Package (for Texas residents 65 years and older): $12
- Non-resident Freshwater Package: $58
The Saltwater Packages include a resident, senior resident, or non-resident fishing license valid from the date of sale to August 31 of the same year and a saltwater endorsement with a red drum tag. A freshwater endorsement may also be purchased. The fees for these packages are as follows:
- Resident Saltwater Package: $35
- Senior Resident Saltwater Package (for Texas residents 65 years and older): $17
- Non-resident Saltwater Package: $63
Combo License Packages
The Combo License Packages include a resident, senior resident, or non-resident fishing license, a freshwater endorsement, and a saltwater endorsement with a red drum tag. All-water package licenses are valid from the date of sale to August 31 of the same year. The fees for these packages are as follows:
- Resident All Water Fishing Package: $40
- Senior Resident All Water Fishing Package (for Texas residents 65 years and older): $22
- Non-resident All Water Fishing Package: $68
Super Combo Package
The Super Combo Package is a special license for military personnel. It’s available to resident active military personnel, as well as veterans of any state who have a 50% disability rating or have lost the use of a limb. This package is completely free, and lets you fish and hunt anywhere in the state. It also includes the Red Drum Tag .
All these packages can be purchased online or at a retailer. It’s important to note that fishing licenses are required for anyone over the age of 17, with some exceptions for residents born before January 1, 1931, and individuals with intellectual disabilities fishing under certain conditions .
Exceptions and Exemptions
There are also exceptions for certain groups. For instance, Texas residents who were born before January 1, 1931, are exempt from license requirements . Additionally, visitors to Texas State Parks can fish without a license, regardless of their age .
- Age-Based Exemptions: All persons under 17 years of age, whether Texas residents or non-residents, are exempt from license requirements. Additionally, Texas residents who were born before January 1, 1931, are also exempt from license requirements .
- Location-Based Exemptions: Visitors to Texas State Parks can fish without a license. This exemption applies to anglers of all ages, residents and non-residents. To take advantage of the exemption, you must be within the boundary of a State Park, which usually means fishing from the bank or a pier .
- Private Water Fishing: You do not need a fishing license to fish in private waters. However, if you are transporting fish off those private waters, either alive or dead, you should have some sort of documentation to prove where these fish were caught .
- Disability-Based Exemptions: A person with an intellectual disability fishing as part of medically approved therapy, under the immediate supervision of personnel approved or employed by a hospital, residence, or school for persons with an intellectual disability, is exempt from license requirements. Similarly, a person with an intellectual disability fishing under the direct supervision of a licensed angler who is either a family member or has permission from the family to take the person fishing is also exempt .
- Free Fishing in State Parks: Any visitor to a State Park will be exempt from normal fishing license requirements while fishing within the park property .
- Non-resident Exemptions: Non-residents under 17 years of age, Louisiana residents 65 years of age or older who possess a valid Louisiana Recreational Fishing License, and Oklahoma residents 65 years of age or older are exempt from license requirements .
- Active Military and Disabled Veterans: Texas residents on full-time active military service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard or Texas State Guard are eligible for a free Resident Active Military All-Water Fishing Package. Disabled veterans are eligible for a free “Super Combo” Hunting and All-Water Fishing Package .
Please note that even with these exemptions, certain regulations such as size and bag limits still apply .
In conclusion, if you are 16 or younger, you do not need a fishing license to fish in the public waters of Texas. However, once you turn 17, you will need to obtain a license unless you fall under one of the exceptions. Always remember to check the latest regulations from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to ensure you are fishing legally and responsibly.