Lost Your Fishing License? Here's What to Do

Lost Your Fishing License? Here’s What to Do


is a beloved pastime for many, but what happens when you lose your fishing license? This can be a stressful situation, especially if you’re planning a fishing trip. However, don’t fret! There are steps you can take to replace your lost license and avoid any potential fines or penalties. In this article, we’ll guide you through what to do if you lose your fishing license, how to replace it, and tips to prevent losing it in the future.

Understanding the Importance of a Fishing License

A fishing license is more than just a piece of paper; it’s your legal permission to fish in public bodies of water. Without it, you could face hefty fines or even legal action. The fees collected from fishing licenses are used to fund conservation efforts, ensuring that our waterways and fish populations remain healthy and abundant. So, if you’ve lost your fishing license, it’s crucial to replace it as soon as possible.

What to Do If You Lose Your Fishing License

If you’ve lost your fishing license, the first thing to do is stop fishing until you’ve replaced it. Fishing without a license can lead to penalties, including fines and potential bans. It’s also important to report the loss to your local wildlife or natural resources department. They can guide you through the process of replacing your license.

Lost Your Fishing License? Here's What to Do

Situations where a fishing license may not be required

Before we dive into the process of replacing a lost fishing license, it’s important to note that there are certain situations where a fishing license may not be required.

  • Age exemptions: Most states in the US offer a free or reduced-cost fishing license for anglers under the age of 18 or 16, depending on the state’s regulations.
  • Military veteran exemptions: Many states offer exemptions or discounted fishing licenses to military veterans or active-duty personnel.
  • Free fishing days: Several states offer free fishing days, where anglers can fish without a license. These days are usually during National Fishing and Boating Week, which falls in June every year.

If you fall under any of these categories, you do not have to worry about replacing a lost fishing license. However, it’s always good to have a valid fishing license to avoid any complications.

Steps to replace a lost fishing license

If you lose your fishing license, the first step is to remain calm and not panic. Here are the steps to replace your lost fishing license:

  1. Contact the state’s fishing and wildlife department: Visit the state’s fishing and wildlife department website or call their phone number to inquire about the process of replacing your lost fishing license. In most cases, you will be able to purchase a duplicate license online or visit a local retailer that sells fishing licenses.
  2. Provide personal identification: When purchasing a duplicate license, you will be required to provide personal identification, such as a driver’s license or social security number. This is to ensure that the license is being replaced for the correct person.
  3. Pay the fee: Depending on the state, there may be a fee for purchasing a duplicate fishing license. The fee may vary depending on the type of fishing license and the state’s regulations. Make sure to have a form of payment ready to pay the fee.

How to Replace a Lost Fishing License

The process of replacing a lost fishing license varies by state. For instance, in Florida, you can replace your license online, by phone, or in person at a tax collector’s office, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There’s a small fee for replacement licenses, but it’s far less than the potential fines for fishing without a license.

In Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has recently reduced the cost of replacing a lost fishing or hunting license. They now charge a flat fee, which includes a fee to cover the cost of their new automated licensing system. This change has made replacing a lost license more affordable for anglers.

Remember, the process and fees can vary, so it’s best to check with your local wildlife or natural resources department for the most accurate information.

Tips to Prevent Losing Your Fishing License

Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid losing your fishing license, consider keeping multiple copies in different locations. You could keep one in your fishing gear, one in your car, and one at home. Some states also offer digital fishing licenses, which you can store on your smartphone. This way, even if you lose the physical copy, you’ll still have a backup.


Losing your fishing license can be a hassle, but it’s not the end of the world. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can replace your lost license and Get back to fishing in no time. Remember, it’s important to always have your fishing license with you when you’re fishing, not only to avoid fines and penalties but also to support conservation efforts.

For more information on fishing licenses in other states, check out our guides on New Mexico, Missouri, and Arkansas.


What should I do if I lost my fishing license?

If you lost your fishing license, you should contact the state agency that issued the license immediately. They will be able to provide you with a replacement or a duplicate license. You may need to provide some information or documentation to obtain a new license, such as your name, address, and date of birth.

Can I still go fishing if I lost my fishing license?

No, you cannot go fishing without a valid fishing license. Fishing without a license can result in fines and other penalties, so it’s important to obtain a replacement license as soon as possible. Fishing with a lost or stolen license is considered fishing without a license and it is illegal.

Can I Get a refund for a lost fishing license?

In most states, you cannot Get a refund for a lost fishing license. Once you purchase a fishing license, it is considered a non-refundable item. However, some states may offer a partial refund if the license was lost within a certain time frame of the purchase. It’s best to check with your state agency to see if they have any refund policies for lost licenses.

Similar Posts