In Tennessee, anyone age 13 or older is required to have a fishing license to fish in public waters within the state, with few exceptions. Determining if you need a license, what type to get, and where to acquire one can be confusing. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about Tennessee fishing license regulations in 2024.
Who Needs a Tennessee Fishing License?
A fishing license is mandatory for both residents and non-residents age 13 and up who are fishing Tennessee’s public lakes, rivers, streams and creeks. You must carry your license whenever fishing and be ready to show it to wildlife officers upon request.
There are exceptions to the licensing rule. Children under 13 years old can fish without a license, although they still need to abide by size and creel limits. Landowners and their children can fish on their own private farmland or woodlands without a license. Renters must obtain a license even when fishing on private property.
During the state’s annual Free Fishing Day (first Saturday in June) and Free Fishing Week (first week of June), licenses are waived for everyone. Military personnel on annual leave in Tennessee can legally fish just by carrying their leave orders. Patients at Tennessee rehabilitation centers and nursing homes can fish without licenses at certain registered facilities.
Types of Tennessee Fishing Licenses
Tennessee offers several license options tailored to residents, visitors, and anglers targeting specific species.
Resident Fishing Licenses
Annual fishing licenses are the most popular choice for residents. They are valid for one year from the purchase date. Costs range from around $12 for youth under 16 to $34 for an adult license. Discounted rates are available for senior citizens (age 65+) and disabled residents.
One-day and junior fishing licenses are also available to Tennessee residents:
- 1-Day All Fish License: Allows fishing for any species for 24 hours. Cost is around $6.
- Junior License: For youth aged 13-15 years old. Valid for one year and costs around $6.
Non-Resident Fishing Licenses
Visitors have four basic license packages to choose from:
- Annual All Fish License: Valid for one year from purchase. Costs around $84.
- 10-Day All Fish License: Valid for 10 consecutive days. Costs around $29.
- 3-Day All Fish License: Valid for 3 consecutive days. Costs around $16.50.
- 1-Day All Fish License: Valid for one calendar day only. Costs around $7.
Additional permits are mandatory when fishing for trout or in specific areas like Reelfoot Lake and Chilhowee Lake.
Military personnel stationed outside Tennessee can purchase an annual all fish license for a discounted rate of around $20. Disabled veterans can get their license for free.
Where To Buy a Tennessee Fishing License
Tennessee fishing licenses are sold at hundreds of retail outlets statewide, including bait & tackle shops, sporting goods stores, marinas and big retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Many county clerk offices also sell licenses.
For convenience, most anglers get their license online at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) site GoOutdoorsTennessee.com. Both annual and temporary licenses can be purchased and printed in minutes. Daily licenses can also be bought using the Go Outdoors TN app.
Fishing licenses can additionally be acquired at any TWRA regional office located across Tennessee.
Displaying Your Tennessee Fishing License
Whenever fishing in public waters, your Tennessee fishing license must be on your person and ready to present to wildlife officers upon request. Digital copies on your phone or printed licenses are both valid.
Anglers cited without a license face fines of $126 to $298 depending on residency and age.
Know The Tennessee Fishing Regulations
When obtaining your fishing license, it is essential to learn the statewide regulations, daily limits and other rules. Key things to know include:
- Size/Creel Limits: Strict statewide limits on the number and size of fish you can keep per day. Limits vary by fish species.
- Equipment Regulations: Restrictions on allowable fishing gear, bait, hooks and techniques. Different rules for trout fishing.
- Boating Safety: Mandatory life jacket regulations, safety equipment rules and boat operation guidelines.
- Seasonal Closures: Certain bodies of water have closed seasons during spawning periods.
Detailed Tennessee fishing rules by species, water body and county are outlined on the TWRA website. Make sure to do your research before casting your line!
In summary, anyone age 13 or older must carry a valid Tennessee fishing license when fishing public waters in the state, excluding special exemption cases. Several types of annual and temporary licenses for residents and visitors can be obtained online, at retail stores or regional TWRA offices.
Understanding the regulations for your preferred fish species and local waters is also critical. Following Tennessee’s fishing license and conservation rules allows everyone to enjoy the state’s world-class angling opportunities.