California Fishing Licenses: All You Need to Know

california fishing licenses

A valid fishing license is required if you plan to go fishing in California. California fishing is a popular outdoor activity that both locals and tourists enjoy. California has many streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and offers anglers numerous opportunities to catch a variety fish species. Before you go out on the water, it is important to be familiar with the state’s fishing regulations. This article will provide a detailed guide to California fishing licenses.

What is a California Fishing License and how do I get one?

A California fishing permit is a permit issued to you by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). It allows you to legally fish in state waters. Anyone who plans on fishing in California’s public waterways, including lakes, rivers, and streams, must have a license. Anglers can obtain a fishing license to ensure they follow state regulations and contribute towards conservation efforts for the state’s wildlife and fish resources.

Who needs a California fishing license?

A fishing license is required for anyone who plans to fish in California’s public waterways. This applies to all non-residents of California. To meet the needs of all anglers, the Department of Fish and Wildlife issues a variety of fishing licenses. There are many types of licenses available. You will need the right license to fish, regardless of whether you are a recreational angler and a commercial fisherman.

Where can I buy a California fishing license?

You can purchase a California fishing license at many outlets. A license can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at a licensed vendor. The DFW website lists all authorized license vendors, including sporting goods shops, bait shops, as well as other retailers. You can also buy a license at DFW regional offices, or online through DFW’s license sales portal. To avoid fraudsters or other fraudulent activities, it is important to verify that the seller or vendor is authorized to issue California fishing licences.

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Types of California Fishing Licenses

California fishing licenses can be purchased in a variety of types, durations and fees depending on the purpose of your fishing activities. Here are some common California fishing licenses:

1. Resident Sport Fishing Licence

California residents can apply for a resident sport fishing license if they plan to fish in state waters for recreation or sport. The license is valid for one-year from the date of purchase, and will cost $52.66 in 2021. This license includes the Ocean Enhancement Stamp which is required to fish in southern California marine protected areas.

2. Non-Resident Sport Fishing Licence

Non-residents of California can apply for a non-resident sport fishing licence if they plan to fish in state waters for sport or recreation. The license is valid for one-year from the date of purchase, and will cost $142.05 in 2021. Non-residents may also purchase a 10-day, or two-day fishing licence depending on their fishing activity.

3. Commercial Fishing License

Individuals who intend to catch fish for commercial or retail purposes can apply for a commercial fishing license. The license is valid for one-year from the date of purchase, and it costs $201.31 in 2021. Commercial fishermen will need to obtain additional permits and meet reporting and catch requirements.

4. One-Day Sport Fishing License

California residents and non-residents can apply for a one-day fishing license for sport fishing. The license is $17.02 in 2021, and can be purchased online as well as at an authorized vendor.

5. Two-day Sport Fishing License

Non-residents of California can apply for a two-day license for sport fishing. This license is for those who intend to fish for recreation or sport for two consecutive days. The license is $27.49 in 2021, and can be purchased online as well as at an authorized vendor.

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What is included in a California Fishing License

A California fishing license gives you many privileges and entitlements. These benefits vary depending on which type of license you have. A fishing license has the following common features:

1. Sport Fishing Privileges

A fishing license allows you fish in California’s public waters for recreational or sport purposes. A variety of fish species can be caught, including trout and salmon, bass, sturgeon and many other species. You can also use approved fishing methods and gears with the license.

2. Ocean Enhancement Stamp

The Ocean Enhancement Stamp is part of a resident sport fishing licence and is required to fish in southern California marine protected areas. The stamp helps fund programs that improve the state’s ocean resources. This includes artificial reefs and hatcheries.

3. Validation of Second-Rod

California fishing license holders can purchase a second rod validation to allow them to fish in inland waters with two rods. The fishing license validation is $16.20 and valid for the entire duration.

California Fishing Regulations

California has strict fishing regulations. These regulations are intended to preserve and protect the state’s wildlife and fish resources. These regulations are enforced to ensure that anglers don’t engage in illegal fishing. These are some of the most common California fishing regulations:

1. Bag and Possession Limits

California has bag and possession restrictions that limit the size and number of fish anglers can catch and keep. The limits are dependent on the species of fish, the fishing method used, and the location. To avoid violating state fishing laws, it is important to be familiar with current regulations.

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2. Fishing Seasons

California has some fish species that have restricted fishing seasons in order to protect their breeding and spawning habits. Fishing during closed seasons is prohibited. Anglers are required to follow fishing season regulations.

3. Size limits

California has size limits which limit the size of fish species anglers can capture and keep. These size limits are intended to encourage sustainable fishing and protect juvenile fish from being overfished.

4. Authorized Fishing Methods & Gears

California permits certain fishing methods and gears that are authorized by the DFW. To avoid illegal fishing, it is important to use only authorized methods and gears.

Violation of California Fishing Regulations can result in severe penalties

California fishing regulations can lead to penalties, fines and other legal consequences for anglers who break them. The penalties can vary depending on the severity of the violation. They could include fines, license suspensions or revocation and imprisonment. To avoid legal problems and promote sustainable fishing, it is important to comply with state fishing regulations.


Anyone who plans on fishing in California’s public waters should have a California fishing license. It doesn’t matter if you are a recreational angler, commercial fisherman or not, it is important to get the right license and follow state regulations. Licenses can be purchased online, by phone or at an authorized vendor. The licensing process is simple. Anglers can get a fishing licence to ensure they are following legal and sustainable fishing methods and contributing to the conservation efforts for California’s wildlife and fish resources.

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