Need a Fishing License in NC? Find Out Here!

2024 North Carolina Fishing License Guide: Types, Fees, and Where to Buy

Are you an avid angler eager to explore the diverse fishing opportunities in North Carolina? Before casting your line, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the types of fishing licenses available, their costs, and where to purchase them, ensuring you’re fully prepared for your 2024 fishing adventures in the Tar Heel State.

Why You Need a Fishing License in North Carolina

North Carolina requires anglers aged 16 and older to possess a valid fishing license when fishing in public waters, whether inland or coastal. The revenue generated from fishing license sales directly supports the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s efforts in maintaining healthy fish populations, enhancing aquatic habitats, and providing access to fishing opportunities statewide.

Types of North Carolina Fishing Licenses

North Carolina offers a variety of fishing licenses tailored to your specific needs, depending on your residency status, age, and the type of fishing you plan to do.

Inland Fishing License

If you’re primarily interested in freshwater fishing in North Carolina’s rivers and lakes, you’ll need an Inland Fishing License. This license is required for fishing in all public inland waters, including Public Mountain Trout Waters, trout waters on game lands, and joint waters.

Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL)

For those looking to fish in North Carolina’s coastal waters, a Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL) is necessary. This license covers fishing in sounds, coastal rivers, estuaries, and the ocean up to three miles offshore. A CRFL is also valid for fishing in joint waters.

Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License

If you want the flexibility to fish in both inland and coastal waters, consider purchasing a Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License. This license combines the privileges of both the Inland Fishing License and the CRFL, allowing you to fish in all public waters throughout the state.

Fishing License Fees for 2024

North Carolina offers both short-term and annual fishing licenses, with prices varying based on residency status and license type. Here’s a breakdown of the 2024 fishing license fees:

Short-Term Licenses

  • 10-Day Inland Fishing License:
    • Resident: $9
    • Non-Resident: $23
  • 10-Day Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL):
    • Resident: $6
    • Non-Resident: $11

Annual Licenses

  • Inland Fishing License:
    • Resident: $30
    • Non-Resident: $45
  • Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL):
    • Resident: $19
    • Non-Resident: $32
  • Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License:
    • Resident: $49
    • Non-Resident: N/A

Lifetime Licenses

North Carolina also offers lifetime fishing licenses for residents, with prices based on age:

  • Infant (under age 1): $106
  • Youth (ages 1-11): $159
  • Adult (ages 12 & older): $265
  • Senior (65 and older): $16

Fishing License Exemptions and Discounts

While most anglers need a fishing license in North Carolina, there are a few exemptions and discounted licenses available:

  • Children under 16 are not required to have a fishing license.
  • North Carolina residents who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving outside the state, or who are on full-time military duty outside the state in a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, do not need a license.
  • Individuals receiving Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Work First Family Assistance can obtain a waiver from the county Department of Social Services and fish for free.
  • Unified Lifetime Fishing Licenses are available at a discounted price of $11 plus a $2 processing fee for people with physical disabilities, those living in adult care homes, and legally blind individuals.

Where to Buy a North Carolina Fishing License

Obtaining your North Carolina fishing license is a simple process, with several convenient options available:

  1. Online: Visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website at to purchase your license online.
  2. By Phone: Call 888-248-6834 to buy your license over the phone.
  3. In Person: Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent, such as a tackle shop, sporting goods store, or hardware store, to purchase your license in person.
  4. By Mail: Send a completed application, along with the appropriate fee, to NCWRC, 1707 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700.

Fishing Regulations in North Carolina

In addition to obtaining the proper fishing license, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with North Carolina’s fishing regulations. These rules help maintain healthy fish populations and ensure fair access for all anglers. Some key regulations to keep in mind include:

  • Size and Creel Limits: Be aware of the minimum size requirements and daily catch limits for various fish species in the waters you plan to fish.
  • Seasons: Some waters may have specific seasons for certain fish species, so check the regulations before planning your fishing trip.
  • Gear Restrictions: Certain waters may have restrictions on the type of fishing gear allowed, such as hook size or bait type.


Obtaining a fishing license is a crucial step in responsibly enjoying North Carolina’s diverse and thriving fisheries. By understanding the types of licenses available, their costs, and where to purchase them, you’ll be well-prepared for your 2024 fishing adventures. Remember to always check the current fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release when appropriate to help preserve these valuable resources for generations to come. Happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: Do I need a fishing license if I’m helping someone else fish? A: Yes, even if you’re not actively fishing yourself, you need a license if you’re assisting another angler by baiting hooks, setting the drag, or landing fish.
  2. Q: Can I fish without a license on the 4th of July? A: Yes, North Carolina allows everyone to fish without a license on Independence Day (July 4th).
  3. Q: Do I need a fishing license if I’m fishing on a charter boat? A: No, you do not need a personal fishing license when fishing aboard a licensed charter boat in North Carolina’s coastal waters.
  4. Q: Are there any reciprocal agreements with other states for fishing licenses? A: Yes, North Carolina has reciprocal agreements with Virginia and South Carolina, allowing anglers with valid licenses from those states to fish in certain boundary waters.
  5. Q: How long is an annual fishing license valid? A: Annual fishing licenses in North Carolina are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Official Resources

For the most up-to-date information on North Carolina fishing licenses and regulations, visit the following official websites:

Similar Posts