If you’re planning to fish in California, it’s essential to know the costs associated with obtaining a fishing license. The fees vary based on several factors, including residency status, the duration of the license, and any applicable discounts. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the costs:

Annual Fishing Licenses

  • Resident Annual Sport Fishing License: $61.82
  • Non-Resident Annual Sport Fishing License: $166.89

Short-Term Fishing Licenses

  • One-Day Sport Fishing License: $20.26 (same for residents and non-residents)
  • Two-Day Sport Fishing License: $31.06 (same for residents and non-residents)
  • Ten-Day Non-Resident Sport Fishing License: $61.82

Lifetime Fishing Licenses

The cost of a lifetime fishing license in California depends on the age of the applicant:

  • Age 0-9: $679.75
  • Age 10-39: $1,112.00
  • Age 40-61: $1,001.75
  • Age 62+: $679.75

Reduced-Fee and Free Fishing Licenses

Certain groups are eligible for reduced-fee or free licenses:

  • Disabled Veterans: $9.53 at CDFW Offices, $9.98 from License Agents
  • Recovering Service Members: $9.53 at CDFW Offices, $9.98 from License Agents
  • Low-Income Seniors: $9.53
  • Free Sport Fishing License: Available for low-income Native Americans, blind, mobility impaired, or developmentally disabled individuals

Additional Fees and Validations

Depending on the type of fish you’re targeting and where you plan to fish, you may need additional validations or report cards:

  • Ocean Enhancement Validation: $7.05, required for fishing in ocean waters south of Point Arguello
  • Second-Rod Validation: $18.00
  • Report Cards: Required for certain species like steelhead, sturgeon, abalone, spiny lobster, and salmon, with fees varying by species

Where to Purchase a California Fishing License

Fishing licenses can be purchased through various channels:

  • Online: Through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website
  • In Person: At CDFW license sales offices, local agents like sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and some grocery stores
  • By Mail: By sending a completed form to the CDFW

Important Notes

  • Validity: Annual licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase
  • Replacement: Fees may apply for replacing lost or damaged licenses


Understanding the costs and options for obtaining a fishing license in California is crucial for any angler. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, there are various licenses available to suit your needs. Make sure to purchase the appropriate license and any necessary validations to enjoy a hassle-free fishing experience in California’s beautiful waters.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you lose your California fishing license, you can request a duplicate from a CDFW license sales office or any license agent for a fee of $13.78.

Can I fish without a license on a public pier?

Yes, you can fish from a public pier in ocean waters without a fishing license. However, you must still follow all other fishing regulations, and you may need a report card for certain species like sturgeon or spiny lobster.

Do I need a fishing license if I’m assisting someone who has a license?

If you’re actively participating in fishing activities, such as casting, baiting hooks, or reeling in fish, you must have your own valid fishing license. Simply assisting or observing does not require a license.

How long is my California fishing license valid?

Most California fishing licenses, including the resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses, are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Short-term licenses are valid for the specified duration (1, 2, or 10 days), while lifetime licenses are valid for the holder’s lifetime.

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