Your Guide to Getting a North Dakota Fishing License: Rules, Costs, and Where to Buy

North Dakota is a angler’s paradise, with abundant lakes, rivers, and streams that offer excellent fishing opportunities. Before casting your line in any North Dakota waterway, you’ll need to acquire the proper fishing license as mandated by state law for most anglers ages 16 and up. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about getting a North Dakota fishing license.

North Dakota Fishing License Rules

North Dakota Game & Fish oversees fishing licenses and regulations in the state. Here are some key rules to be aware of:

  • Residents and nonresidents ages 16 and older need a fishing license to fish in North Dakota. Those under 16 can fish without a license if they qualify.
  • Licenses are valid for one year from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.
  • Separate paddlefish tags are required in addition to a fishing license for anyone participating in paddlefish snagging.
  • Resident licenses are needed for those living in North Dakota for at least 6 months per year or attending school full-time in the state.
  • Military personnel stationed in North Dakota qualify for resident licenses.
  • Nonresident full-time college students attending school in North Dakota can buy resident licenses.
  • Fishing licenses must be carried at all times while fishing and shown upon request. A digital image is acceptable.

Knowing North Dakota’s fishing regulations is also critical for following the rules. Regulations exist for seasons, limits, gear restrictions, fish transportation, and more.

Who Needs a North Dakota Fishing License?

While all anglers 16 and older need a North Dakota fishing license, some exceptions apply:

  • North Dakota residents under age 16 can fish without a license. They still must follow fishing regulations.
  • Nonresidents under 16 can fish without a license if accompanied by a properly licensed adult.
  • Disabled veterans with a 50% or greater service-related disability can fish without a license. Proper documentation must be carried.
  • Patients of state institutions can fish without a license with authorization from the institution CEO.

In other cases, such as for nonresidents coming to fish tournaments, special licenses may be mandated. Check license requirements for qualifications.

Types of North Dakota Fishing Licenses

North Dakota offers a variety of fishing license options for both residents and nonresidents:

Resident Fishing Licenses

  • Annual License ($18): Covers fishing by residents 16 and older for a 1-year period.
  • 3-Year License ($54): Covers fishing for 3 years upon purchase by residents 16 and older. More cost effective option than buying annual licenses.
  • Youth License (Free for age 15 and under): Required for resident youth who want to snag paddlefish or need certification for license exemptions.

Nonresident Fishing Licenses

  • Season License ($48): Valid for the open water fishing season dates, which are approximately May 1 – March 31 yearly. Covers nonresidents 16 and older.
  • 7-Day License ($36): Allows nonresidents 16 and older to fish for 7 consecutive days.
  • 3-Day License ($26): A 3-day nonresident fishing license. Consecutive days.
  • 1-Day License ($10): 24-hour nonresident fishing license.

Other special nonresident license options exist as well, such as a $15 license for those coming to fish a tournament.

In most cases, a $1 fee also applies at time of purchase for the Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate.

Where to Buy a North Dakota Fishing License

You can purchase a North Dakota fishing license through several convenient options:

  • Online through the North Dakota Game & Fish website: Create an account to buy and download electronic licenses and tags. Allow mailing time for documents like deer bow tags.
  • North Dakota Game & Fish Department offices: Stop into department offices in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Riverdale, or Williston.
  • Retail vendors: More than 300 license vendors exist across North Dakota where licenses can be bought in-person. Locations include bait shops, sporting goods stores, convenience stores, and more.

When buying in person, be sure to bring a prior year’s fishing license or proof of hunter education certification if required for license privileges.

Why Buy a North Dakota Fishing License?

Purchasing a North Dakota fishing license may seem like an inconvenience and added cost for your fishing trip, but it serves good purposes:

  • Fisheries conservation: License dollars support fisheries management, fish stocking programs, surveys, public fishing access sites, educational efforts, and enforcement.
  • Compliance with the law: Fishing without a proper license if you don’t qualify for exemptions leads to penalties.
  • Funding of other conservation efforts: Besides fisheries benefits, license revenues support programs that sustain healthy habitats, wildlife populations, and public use opportunities.

So while no one likes added fees, a North Dakota fishing license purchase goes a long way in protecting the state’s waters and fish for years to come.

Fishing License Fines and Penalties

If you are fishing without a proper license or violate fishing regulations, substantial penalties can be incurred:

  • Fishing without a License
    • 1st Offense: $50 fine
    • 2nd Offense (within 3 years): $100 fine and 30-day fishing privilege suspension
    • 3rd Offense (within 3 years): Mandatory court appearance and possible jail time
  • General Fishing Violations
    • 1st Offense: $50 fine
    • 2nd Offense (within 3 years): $100 fine
    • Subsequent Offenses: Mandatory court appearance

Fines can be much greater for violations like over limits, illegal taking or sale of fish, etc. Know the fishing regulations to avoid violations.

Getting Started Fishing in North Dakota

Once you have your North Dakota fishing license, it’s time to start catching fish!

New anglers should view the Fishing Virtual Mentor information that provides beginning tips on rods, reels, tackle, locating fish, and more. Attend free fishing clinics offered in summer by North Dakota Game & Fish too.

For seasoned anglers, excellent open water fishing resources exist on game fish identification, fishing waters by region, tournaments, state record fish, and more.

Ice fishing resources are also available on gear, electronics, safety, and top waters for winter action. Or download the 2022-2024 Fishing Regulations Guide covering all seasons, limits and rules.

Wherever and whenever you fish in North Dakota, exercise safety and ethical catch-and-release practices. Follow regulations and display your license as required. Your license purchase keeps the state’s bountiful fisheries thriving, so fish on!

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