Oregon Fishing Regulations: Do You Need a License to Fish in Oregon?

Oregon offers world-class fishing opportunities across the state, from trout fishing in alpine lakes and streams to salmon and steelhead runs in the mighty Columbia River. With this abundance of angling options comes regulations to ensure healthy fish populations and fair access to this public resource. So do you need a fishing license to cast a line in Oregon?

Overview of Oregon Recreational Fishing Licenses

In most cases, anyone 12 years and older needs a valid Oregon fishing license to fish recreationally in the state, whether you are a resident or visitor . This requirement applies when fishing coastal waters out to 3 miles offshore as well as inland freshwaters such as rivers, streams, and lakes.

There are a few exceptions to this licensing rule:

  • During the two annual Free Fishing Weekends, normally scheduled in June and December, when licenses are waived statewide.
  • When taking crayfish or bullfrogs by hand, net, or hook and line.
  • Oregon resident landowners fishing on land they own, except for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, or marine fish like halibut which always require a license.

Types of Licenses Available

Oregon offers a variety of license options tailored to resident and non-resident anglers:

For Oregon Residents

  • Annual fishing license – valid for the calendar year and covers general fishing.
  • Combination hunting/fishing license – single license covers small game hunting and fishing.
  • Sports Pac license – bundled annual license with fishing, hunting, and other recreational privileges.
  • Senior license – discounted license for residents 70 years and older who have lived in Oregon for the past 5 years.
  • Youth license – available for residents 12-17 years old.
  • Daily/multi-day licenses – single day or longer duration licenses for infrequent anglers.

For Non-Residents

  • Annual fishing license – valid for the calendar year
  • Youth license – for non-residents 12-17 years old
  • Daily/multi-day licenses – flexible short term licenses

In addition to a basic fishing license, certain fisheries require additional permits or endorsements such as:

  • Columbia River Basin Endorsement – required for fishing salmon, steelhead or sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Combined Angling Tag – necessary for retaining salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, or marine species like halibut.
  • Two-Rod Validation – allows the use of two rods/lines in standing waters.

Special validations may also apply for certain areas, seasons, or species. Always consult the current fishing regulations for where you plan to fish.

Where To Get an Oregon Fishing License

Licenses are available both online and from physical license agents across the state :

  • ODFW Website/Mobile App – convenient online sales platform for all license types. Electronic licenses can be saved on your smartphone for quick proof of licensing.
  • License Agents – major retailers like Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer sell licenses over the counter.
  • Tackle Shops/Fishing Guides – small businesses catering to anglers are licensed agents.
  • ODFW Offices – can process licenses and provide info on regulations.

When making an online purchase, allow 1-2 days for delivery of paper license documents by mail. Carry your license for proof when fishing as you must show it upon request from enforcement officials.

Key Oregon Recreational Fishing Regulations

In addition to possessing a valid fishing license, anglers must abide by all general regulations that govern recreational fishing in Oregon:

Seasons and Bag Limits

  • Open seasons, daily limits, size restrictions are set for each fish species based on location and type of water. Regulations help ensure long term sustainability.
  • Examples: Only adipose fin-clipped trout over 8 inches may be kept from streams in the Willamette Zone, while 5 hatchery salmon per day can be retained from the lower Columbia River.
  • Knowing the specific area you are fishing and applicable limits is an angler’s responsibility.

Catch Recording

  • When required, record catches promptly and accurately on Combined Angling Tags. Proper documentation helps fisheries managers.

Legal Tackle and Methods

  • Restrictions govern the types of rods/reels, hooks, bait, lures, and techniques allowed.
  • Examples: Maximum 6 rods per angler in the Columbia River, barbless hooks mandated for salmon/steelhead on certain rivers.
  • Variations exist for different species and bodies of water.

Safety and Ethical Angling

While not legally enforced regulations, practicing safe and ethical fishing techniques improves well-being for both the angler and fish:

  • Wear a personal flotation device when on boats, rafts, or wading in rivers.
  • Respect fellow anglers by avoiding crowded areas, keeping noise levels low if fishing near others.
  • Handle fish gently when releasing and avoid removing them from the water when possible.
  • Pack out all trash and discarded line to leave no trace behind.

Conclusion: Licensing Essential for Oregon Fishing

While intricate at times, Oregon’s recreational fishing regulations exist to ensure healthy and sustainable fish populations that allow anglers to enjoy the sport for generations to come. Key points for visitors and residents alike to remember are:

  • All persons 12+ years need a valid Oregon fishing license to fish recreationally with few exceptions.
  • Various license types and durations accommodate resident and non-resident anglers.
  • Additional permits may be required to fish certain species like salmon and sturgeon or in areas such as the Columbia River.
  • Know the local seasons, limits, tackle rules before wetting a line, as regulations vary across the state.

Armed with the proper licensing and knowledge of regulations, visitors can experience world-class angling in Oregon from alpine trout streams to the massive Columbia River.

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