Is a Fishing License Required for 17-Year-Olds in Texas?

Fishing is a popular pastime in Texas that allows anglers to enjoy the state’s abundant freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal waters. However, to legally fish these public waters, most people need to purchase a fishing license and carry it with them while fishing. This raises the question – are 17-year-olds required to have a Texas fishing license?

The straightforward answer is no, a fishing license is not required for anyone under 17 years old to fish recreationally in Texas public waters. This exemption makes fishing more accessible for teens and children, allowing families to head out on fishing trips without needing to purchase additional licenses.

While 17-year-olds can fish license-free in Texas, there are still regulations they must follow in terms of daily bag limits, size restrictions, and acceptable gear types. Adults that take groups of children fishing should be well-versed in these rules. TPWD wardens do check catches to ensure compliance regardless of age.

Below we will explore the fishing license exemption for anglers under 17 as well as other cases where individuals can fish recreationally without needing a license in Texas.

Overview of Fishing License Requirements in Texas

In Texas, a fishing license is required for most anglers fishing the public waters of the state. This includes both residents and non-residents ages 17 and older. Licenses must be carried while fishing and shown to game wardens when asked.

There are three main types of fishing licenses in Texas:

  • Freshwater license – For fishing inland public freshwater bodies
  • Saltwater license – For fishing public saltwater areas
  • All-water license – Allows fishing in both fresh and saltwaters

Licenses are valid from the date of sale through August 31st of the same year. Costs range from $11 for a one-day all-water license up to $68 for a non-resident all-water year-long package.

Texas also offers “fishing packages” which include the fishing license plus required freshwater and saltwater endorsements based on where the angler will fish.

So in summary, anyone 17 years and older must carry a valid Texas fishing license and applicable endorsements when fishing public waters. Failure to provide a license when asked by a game warden can result in fines up to $500.

Fishing License Exemption for Anglers Under 17

The regulation that is most relevant to our question is the exemption from fishing license requirements for anglers under 17 years old.

Specifically, Texas Parks and Wildlife Code Section 46.002 states:

“A license issued under this chapter is not required of a person: (1) who is a resident and whose birth date is before January 1, 1931; […] or a person under 17 years of age.”

This clearly indicates that any Texas resident or non-resident under the age of 17 can fish recreationally without needing a fishing license.

So in direct response to our question, no, 17-year-olds do NOT need a fishing license to fish recreationally in Texas public waters. They can fish from piers, shorelines, private boats, or by any other legal means without a license.

While the under 17 fishing license exemption makes things easier for families with teens who enjoy fishing, 17-year-olds must still abide by other regulations such as daily bag and length limits for certain species.

Adults supervising children should be knowledgeable of Texas fishing rules and regulations to ensure any fish caught can be legally kept based on size and possession restrictions.

Other Fishing License Exemptions in Texas

In addition to the license exemption for anglers under 17 while fishing recreationally, Texas also allows the following groups to fish public waters without needing a license:

Fishing in Texas State Parks

All visitors to Texas State Parks can fish without a license provided they remain within the park boundary. Over 70 state parks offer license-free fishing. This exemption does not apply to city, county, or other non-state-operated public parks.

Texas Residents Born Before 1931

Texas residents born before January 1, 1931 are exempt from fishing license requirements. Seniors still need to carry proof of age such as a driver’s license when fishing.

Disabled Veterans

Texas residents with a disability rating of 50% or more from the VA can get a free Super Combo hunting and fishing package license. This also applies to veterans who lost the use of a foot or leg due to a service-related injury. Disabled veterans need proper documentation when fishing under this exemption.

Intellectually Disabled Anglers

Texas residents diagnosed with an intellectual disability can fish without a license in certain cases:

  • As part of a medically approved therapy program under the supervision of hospital or school staff
  • Under the immediate supervision of a licensed angler who is a family member or has family authorization

Proper authorization documentation must be carried while fishing under these exemptions.

How 17-Year-Olds Can Obtain a Texas Fishing License

While not required, some 17-year-olds may choose to purchase a Texas fishing license. This gives them the certification needed to fish independently without adult supervision.

Here is how 17-year-olds can obtain a license if desired:

Purchase In-Person

17-year-olds can visit any of the 1,700+ license retailers across Texas such as bait shops, sporting goods stores, large retailers that sell hunting/fishing gear, and some grocery stores.

Find a full list of retailers that sell licenses on TPWD’s website.

Purchase Online

With an adult’s assistance, 17-year-olds can purchase Texas fishing licenses online through TPWD’s web portal. Adult help is likely needed to complete the online purchase process including payment via credit card.

Purchase via Phone

Similar to purchasing online, 17-year-olds can call TPWD at (800) TX LIC 4 U [(800) 895-4248] to purchase fishing licenses by phone with assistance from a legal guardian or parent.

In all purchase cases, 17-year-olds will need to provide accurate identification and residency documentation, which is detailed later in this article.

Carrying & Displaying Fishing Licenses in Texas

It’s important to not only purchase a valid Texas fishing license but also carry it with you while fishing as proof of certification.

When asked by a game warden, anglers must be able to present a physical license. There are also digital options to store and display fishing licenses outlined below.

Physical Fishing License

For most fishing purposes, anglers need to carry the physical plastic card license. This is especially important when doing any activity that requires physical tags, such as tagging a harvested deer or turkey.

The fishing license card is also needed for freshwater fishing requiring the use of harvest logs.

Digital Photo of Fishing License

Texas allows anglers to display a digital photo of the fishing license on a phone or other device screen to game wardens when asked for proof. This photo must be legible and show accurate license details.

Photos can be taken of the physical license or a digital purchase receipt.

Outdoor Annual Mobile App

The Outdoor Annual app developed by TPWD allows anglers to store license information digitally in the app. This can be shown to game wardens when license verification is needed while fishing.

The mobile app helps anglers keep fishing regulations and license info handy while on the water.

Penalties for Fishing Without License in Texas

While Texas fishing licenses are not required for anglers under 17 and other exempt groups, most adults need to purchase and carry a valid license when fishing public waters in the state.

It is unlawful to fish recreationally without a license if you do not qualify for an exemption. Fishing without a license in Texas can result in fines and penalties, including:

  • Class C misdemeanor charges
  • Fines up to $500
  • Mandatory payment of court fees

TPWD game wardens actively check fishing licenses along shorelines, piers, bridges, and watercraft. Failure to furnish a license when asked is a violation of Texas Administrative Code Title 31 Part 2 Chapter 57.

In some cases, repeat violations or fishing certain species commercially without a license can lead to more severe Class A or B misdemeanor charges.

Proof of Residency to Obtain Texas Fishing Licenses

When an angler under 17 chooses to purchase a Texas fishing license voluntarily or if an adult needs to get a license, certain residency documentation must be provided.

This is needed when purchasing licenses in-person or online.

Proof of Texas Residency

Adults must prove Texas residency for at least the previous 6 months to purchase resident fishing licenses which are offered at lower rates.

Forms of proof of residency include:

  • Valid Texas driver’s license or state-issued ID card
  • Current Texas voter registration card
  • Recent property tax or lease documents
  • Utility bills sent to a Texas address

A full list of accepted residency documents can be found here.

Non-Texas Residents

For anglers with out-of-state residency, proof such as a driver’s license or ID card from another state must be shown. Rates for non-resident fishing licenses are slightly higher since some license fee funds are used for in-state conservation efforts.

Social Security Number Requirement

All license buyers in Texas ages 14 and over must provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number when purchasing fishing licenses in person or online.

This requirement can be waived for certain religious, early release prisoners reentering society or legal situations that make obtaining a Social Security Number difficult or impossible. More details can be found in the TPWD Outdoor Annual regulation guidebook.

Key Takeaways – Do 17-Year-Olds Need a License to Fish in Texas?

In summary:

  • 17-year-olds are exempt from fishing license requirements in Texas when fishing recreationally
  • While exempt, 17-year-olds must still follow all other fishing regulations for daily limits, legal gear, etc.
  • Adults supervising teens should be educated on Texas fishing rules and limits
  • Separate fishing license exemptions exist for disabled veterans, seniors born before 1931, anglers with intellectual disabilities, and when fishing only in Texas State Parks
  • 17-year-olds can voluntarily obtain annual or one-day fishing licenses if desired through online, phone, or in-person purchase options
  • Most adult anglers (residents and visitors) require valid Texas fishing licenses with applicable endorsements when fishing public waters in the state
  • Penalties exist for fishing without a license for non-exempt anglers, including fines over $500

We hope this guide has helped explain if and when 17-year-olds require fishing licenses in Texas. Tight lines!

For additional details on Texas fishing regulations, exemptions, and license options, please consult TPWD’s outdoor annual hunting and fishing regulations guide or call 1-800-792-1112.

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