Fishing in Kentucky is a cherished activity, offering anglers access to numerous streams, rivers, and lakes filled with diverse fish species. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, obtaining a fishing license is essential to comply with state regulations and support conservation efforts. This guide will provide comprehensive information on how to get a fishing license in Kentucky for 2024, including types of licenses, costs, purchasing methods, and specific regulations.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Kentucky

Kentucky offers a variety of fishing licenses to meet different needs. Here are the main types available:

  • Annual Resident Fishing License: $23.00
  • Annual Non-Resident Fishing License: $55.00
  • Spouses/Joint Fishing License: $42.00
  • Non-Resident 7-Day Fishing License: $35.00
  • 1-Day Resident Fishing License: $7.00
  • 1-Day Non-Resident Fishing License: $15.00
  • Senior/Disabled License: $12.00 (includes combination hunting and fishing licenses, plus additional permits)

Who Needs a Fishing License?

In Kentucky, anyone aged 16 and above must have a valid fishing license to fish in public waters. There are specific exemptions, including:

  • Residents under 16 years old
  • Resident landowners, their spouses, and dependent children fishing on their own land
  • Tenants, their spouses, and dependent children fishing on farmlands where they live and work
  • Resident servicemen on furlough for more than three days

How to Purchase a Fishing License

Kentucky makes it easy to purchase a fishing license through several convenient methods:

1. Online

You can buy your fishing license online through the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website. Simply fill in your details, select the type of license you need, and pay using Mastercard, Visa, Discover, or a Fish and Wildlife gift certificate. You will receive a printable image and an authorization number, which you must carry while fishing.

2. In-Person

Licenses are available at over 900 local vendors across the state, including county stores, bait shops, and chain outlets. This method allows you to connect with local businesses and get insider fishing tips.

3. By Phone

For those who prefer to purchase by phone, call 1-800-858-1549 any time, day or night. You will receive an authorization number to keep handy while fishing.

Fishing Regulations and Restrictions

Kentucky enforces various regulations to maintain healthy fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices. Here are some key points:

Allowed Fishing Methods

  • Rod and reel
  • Pole and line
  • Trotline
  • Jugline
  • Limbline
  • Bowfishing (for rough fish only)

Prohibited Fishing Methods

  • Snagging
  • Grabbing
  • Snaring
  • Gigging (except for approved rough fish)
  • Using dynamite or other explosives
  • Using poisons or chemicals

Catch Limits and Size Restrictions

To protect fish populations, Kentucky has specific catch limits and size restrictions for various species. For example:

SpeciesDaily LimitSize Limit
Black Bass612-inch minimum
Crappie209-inch minimum
CatfishNo limitNone
Trout8No minimum size
Muskellunge136-inch minimum

Popular Fishing Spots and Their Regulations

Kentucky boasts numerous world-class fishing destinations, each with its own set of regulations. Here are some popular spots:

Kentucky Lake

  • Known for bass, crappie, and catfish fishing
  • 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass
  • 10-inch minimum size limit for crappie
  • No minimum size limit for catfish

Lake Cumberland

  • Famous for striped bass and walleye fishing
  • 15-inch minimum size limit for walleye
  • 22-inch minimum size limit for striped bass
  • Catch and release only for trout from October 1 through March 31

Nolin River Lake

  • Great for bass, crappie, and walleye fishing
  • 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass
  • 9-inch minimum size limit for crappie
  • 18-inch minimum size limit for walleye

Conservation Efforts

Fishing license fees in Kentucky support various conservation initiatives, including:

  • Fish stocking programs
  • Habitat restoration and protection
  • Fishing access improvements
  • Aquatic education and outreach
  • Fisheries research and management

By purchasing a fishing license, you contribute directly to the preservation of Kentucky’s fisheries, ensuring that future generations can enjoy the same fantastic angling opportunities.


Obtaining a fishing license in Kentucky is a straightforward process that supports conservation efforts and ensures compliance with state regulations. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, understanding the types of licenses available, the costs, and the purchasing methods will help you enjoy a legal and enjoyable fishing experience in the Bluegrass State. Always check the latest regulations before heading out, and happy fishing!

For more detailed information, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website.

Can I fish in Kentucky without a license?

No, with a few exceptions (such as landowners fishing on their own property or children under 16), everyone must have a valid fishing license to fish in Kentucky’s public waters.

Do I need a separate license for freshwater and saltwater fishing in Kentucky?

No, Kentucky’s fishing licenses cover both freshwater and saltwater fishing within the state.

How long is a Kentucky fishing license valid?

The validity of your fishing license depends on the type of license you purchase. Annual licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase, while short-term licenses (such as 1-day or 7-day) are valid for the specified number of days.

Can I use my fishing license from another state to fish in Kentucky?

No, out-of-state fishing licenses are not valid in Kentucky. Non-residents must purchase a Kentucky fishing license to fish in the state’s waters.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you purchased your license online, you can easily reprint it from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website. If you bought your license in-person or by phone, contact the vendor or the KDFWR Information Center for assistance.

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