Kentucky Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

Kentucky Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

Are you ready to cast your line in the beautiful waters of Kentucky? Before you do, make sure you have a valid Kentucky fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about obtaining and using a fishing license in the Bluegrass State.

Why You Need a Kentucky Fishing License

A fishing license is more than just a legal requirement—it’s an investment in the future of Kentucky’s fisheries. The funds generated from license sales support critical conservation efforts, including:

  • Stocking programs that maintain healthy fish populations
  • Habitat restoration projects that improve water quality and fish habitat
  • Research and monitoring to ensure sustainable fisheries management
  • Educational programs that teach the next generation of anglers about responsible fishing practices

By purchasing a fishing license, you’re doing your part to protect and enhance Kentucky’s fishing resources for generations to come.

Who Needs a Kentucky Fishing License?

In general, anyone 16 years of age or older must have a valid Kentucky fishing license to fish in the state’s public waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents.

There are a few exceptions:

  • Children under 16 can fish without a license
  • Kentucky residents who own land and fish on their own property (or their spouse and dependent children) are exempt from needing a license
  • During Free Fishing Days (usually the first weekend in June), anyone can fish without a license

Types of Kentucky Fishing Licenses

Kentucky offers several types of fishing licenses to meet the needs of different anglers:

Annual Fishing License

  • Resident: $23
  • Non-Resident: $55
  • Valid from March 1 to February 28 of the following year

Joint Married Couple Annual Fishing License

  • Resident: $42
  • Not available for non-residents
  • Allows a married couple to fish together under one license

1-Day Fishing License

  • Resident: $7
  • Non-Resident: $15
  • Perfect for short fishing trips or trying out the sport

7-Day Fishing License (Non-Resident Only)

  • $35
  • Ideal for out-of-state visitors on longer fishing vacations

Trout Permit

  • Resident and Non-Resident: $10
  • Required to fish for trout in designated stocked trout waters and trout streams

Senior/Disabled Sportsman’s License

  • Resident: $12
  • Includes fishing, hunting, and trout privileges
  • Available to Kentucky residents 65 and older, or those with qualifying disabilities

How to Get Your Kentucky Fishing License

Getting your fishing license is easy and convenient. You have three options:

  1. Online: Visit the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website ( to purchase your license securely with a credit card. Print out a temporary license to use immediately.
  2. By Phone: Call 1-877-598-2401 to buy your license over the phone. Have your credit card ready and write down the confirmation number for your records.
  3. In Person: Stop by one of the many license vendors across the state, including sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and county clerk offices. Pay with cash, check, or credit card.

Regardless of how you purchase your license, make sure to carry it with you whenever you’re fishing. A digital copy on your smartphone or a printed copy are both acceptable.

Special Regulations and Permits

In addition to a general fishing license, some waters and species may require additional permits or have special regulations.

Trout Fishing
If you plan to fish for trout in Kentucky’s stocked trout waters or streams, you’ll need a trout permit in addition to your regular fishing license. This permit helps fund the state’s trout stocking program, which provides excellent trout fishing opportunities across the state.

Fishing on Private Property
If you’re fishing on private property with the landowner’s permission, you may not need a license. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the property owner and local regulations to be sure.

Commercial Fishing
Commercial fishing in Kentucky requires a separate commercial fishing license. If you plan to sell your catch or use commercial gear, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources for more information on commercial licenses and regulations.

Tips for Using Your Kentucky Fishing License

Now that you have your fishing license, here are some tips to make the most of it:

  • Know the Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Kentucky’s fishing regulations, including size and catch limits, seasons, and any special requirements for certain waters or species. The Kentucky Fishing & Boating Guide is a great resource.
  • Keep Your License Handy: Whether you have a digital or printed copy, make sure your fishing license is easily accessible when you’re on the water. Consider storing it in a waterproof case or bag.
  • Renew Early: Don’t wait until the last minute to renew your fishing license. Kentucky licenses expire on February 28 each year, so renew early to avoid any lapse in coverage.
  • Support Conservation: Consider making an additional donation to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources when purchasing your license. These funds go directly to conservation projects that benefit fish and wildlife across the state.
  • Introduce Someone to Fishing: Share your love of fishing with a friend or family member. Kentucky offers a “Fishing in Neighborhoods” (FINs) program that provides excellent opportunities for beginners to learn the ropes in urban areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use my Kentucky fishing license in other states?
A: No, a Kentucky fishing license is only valid for fishing within the state’s borders. If you plan to fish in another state, you’ll need to obtain a license from that state’s fish and wildlife agency.

Q: What happens if I lose my fishing license?
A: If you purchased your license online or by phone, you can reprint a copy from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website. If you bought your license in person, contact the vendor or the department for a replacement.

Q: Do I need a fishing license to fish on my own property?
A: In most cases, Kentucky residents who own land and fish on their own property (or their spouse and dependent children) are exempt from needing a fishing license. However, there are some exceptions for certain species and commercial fishing, so it’s always best to check the regulations.

Q: Are there any age discounts for Kentucky fishing licenses?
A: Kentucky does offer a Senior/Disabled Sportsman’s License for residents 65 and older or those with qualifying disabilities. This license includes fishing, hunting, and trout privileges at a discounted rate of $12.


A Kentucky fishing license is your ticket to some of the best fishing in the country. By obtaining and using your license responsibly, you’re not only ensuring legal compliance but also supporting vital conservation efforts that keep Kentucky’s fisheries thriving.

So what are you waiting for? Get your Kentucky fishing license today and start exploring the state’s incredible fishing opportunities. From the mighty Ohio River to the tranquil waters of Lake Cumberland, there’s a fishing adventure waiting for you in the Bluegrass State.

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