Fishing is more than just a hobby in New York – it’s a way of life. With over 7,600 lakes and ponds, and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, the Empire State offers anglers an abundance of opportunities to reel in a variety of freshwater and saltwater species. However, before you can embark on your next fishing adventure, you’ll need to ensure you have a valid fishing license.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in New York, including costs, types, exemptions, and where to purchase them.

Quick Summary: New York Fishing License Costs

Here’s a quick overview of the standard fishing license costs in New York for 2024:

Resident Licenses

  • Annual (ages 16-69): $25
  • Annual Senior (ages 70+): $5
  • 7-Day: $12
  • 1-Day: $5
  • Lifetime (up to age 69): $460
  • Lifetime (age 70+): $65

Non-Resident Licenses

  • Annual: $50
  • 7-Day: $28
  • 1-Day: $10

New York offers various license options to suit different needs and budgets for residents and non-residents alike.

A man fishing on a lake in New York
A man fishing on a lake in New York

Understanding New York’s Fishing License Requirements

In New York State, anyone aged 16 or older is required by law to have a valid fishing license when:

  • Fishing for freshwater fish species by angling, spearing, hooking, longbow, or tip-ups
  • Catching frog species by spearing, hand-catching, or using a hook or club
  • Collecting freshwater baitfish for personal use

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and penalties, so it’s crucial to ensure you have the proper license before casting your line.

However, there are a few exceptions where a fishing license is not required:

  • Fishing on a licensed fishing preserve
  • Fishing during designated “Free Fishing Days”
  • Attending a free fishing clinic approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Resident landowners primarily engaged in farming (including lessees and members of their immediate families) when fishing on their own cultivated farmlands
  • Farm fish pond license holders (including members of their immediate families) fishing on waters covered by the license
  • Native Americans living and fishing on reservation land
  • Patients residing at a qualifying U.S. Veterans Administration hospital or facility in New York State

It’s important to note that a separate marine fishing registration is required if you plan to fish for migratory fish of the sea or saltwater fish species.

How Much Does a New York Fishing License Cost?

The cost of a fishing license in New York varies depending on several factors, including your residency status, age, and the duration of the license. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

License TypeResident CostNon-Resident Cost
Annual$25 (ages 16-69)
$5 (ages 70+)
Lifetime$460 (up to age 69)
$65 (age 70+)

Free and Reduced-Fee Licenses

Certain groups may qualify for free or reduced-fee annual fishing licenses in New York State. These include:

  • Resident military members of the New York State Organized Militia or U.S. Reserve Forces (free license)
  • Resident active military members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed outside New York State and home on leave for 30 days or less (free license)
  • Non-resident military members stationed in New York State for more than 30 days (eligible for resident license prices)
  • Legally blind residents of New York State (free license)
  • Non-resident students attending a New York State college or university full-time (eligible for resident license prices)
  • Resident veterans with a 40% or greater service-related disability ($5 reduced-fee license)

To qualify for these discounts, you’ll need to provide the required documentation and meet the eligibility criteria outlined by the DEC.

Lifetime Combo Licenses

For avid outdoorsmen and women who enjoy both fishing and hunting, New York offers the option to combine a lifetime fishing license with a lifetime hunting license. The cost of this combo license varies based on your age at the time of purchase:

AgeLifetime Combo License Cost
Under 5 years$380
Ages 5-11$535
Ages 12-69$765
Age 70 and older$65

Lifetime licenses come in the form of a document, but you can also have it added to your DMV license for convenience. This will allow your driver’s license to serve as your fishing license as well. You can either wait until your current license expires for a free update or request an immediate renewal for $12.50.

Saltwater Fishing in New York

If you’re an angler who prefers the salty air and the thrill of reeling in a big catch from the ocean, you’ll be pleased to know that fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and its saltwater tributaries in New York is absolutely free! All you need to do is register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry, which is a quick and hassle-free process.

However, if you plan to go after tuna and sharks on a private boat, you’ll need to obtain a separate permit from the federal government. Additionally, New York residents who want to harvest lobster will need to purchase a Recreational Lobster Permit for $10. Non-residents are not eligible for this permit.

If you prefer to go crabbing, clamming, or fishing on a saltwater fishing charter, you don’t need any permits, licenses, or registrations.

A man fishing in the ocean off the coast of New York
A man fishing in the ocean off the coast of New York

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get a New York Fishing License

Now that you understand the costs and types of fishing licenses available in New York, let’s walk through the process of obtaining one.

  1. Determine Your Residency Status: The first step is to determine whether you qualify as a resident or non-resident of New York State. Residents are defined as individuals who have maintained a permanent and legitimate residence in New York for at least 30 consecutive days immediately prior to the date of application.
  2. Choose Your License Type: Based on your residency status, age, and the duration of your fishing plans, select the appropriate license type from the options listed above.
  3. Gather Required Documents: Depending on the license type and any applicable discounts, you may need to provide additional documentation, such as proof of residency, military service records, or disability documentation.
  4. Purchase Your License: New York offers several convenient options for purchasing your fishing license:
  • Online: Visit the official New York State website and purchase your license online.
  • By Phone: Call 1-866-933-2257 to order your license over the phone.
  • In-Person: Visit your local tackle shop, Walmart, or any other registered vendor to purchase your license in person. When purchasing online or by phone, you’ll receive a confirmation number that serves as valid proof of your fishing license. You can either print the license or have it mailed to your home for a small fee.
  1. Review Fishing Regulations: Once you’ve obtained your fishing license, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with New York’s freshwater fishing regulations. These regulations cover various aspects, such as fishing seasons, catch limits, and restricted areas. The DEC provides a comprehensive “New York Freshwater Fishing Regulations” booklet, which you should review before heading out to fish.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be fully prepared to embark on your next fishing adventure in New York while ensuring you’re in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Fishing Resources and Tips for a Successful Outing

To make the most of your fishing experience in New York, it’s essential to be well-informed and prepared. Here are some valuable resources and tips to help you along the way:

  • DEC Fishing Resources: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website offers a wealth of information on fishing hotspots, species profiles, and conservation efforts in the state. Be sure to check out their interactive maps, fishing reports, and educational materials.
  • Local Fishing Clubs and Guides: Consider joining a local fishing club or hiring a professional guide, especially if you’re new to the area or targeting a specific species. These experienced anglers can provide invaluable insights, tips, and local knowledge to enhance your fishing experience.
  • Fishing Forecast and Weather Reports: Before heading out, check the weather forecast and fishing reports to ensure optimal conditions for your planned outing. This can help you choose the right location, gear, and techniques for the day.
  • Proper Gear and Tackle: Invest in high-quality fishing gear and tackle appropriate for the species you’re targeting and the waters you’ll be fishing in. Proper equipment can make a significant difference in your success and enjoyment on the water.
  • Respect the Environment: Remember to practice responsible fishing practices and respect the environment. Follow catch-and-release guidelines, properly dispose of any waste, and minimize your impact on the natural surroundings.
A man fishing on a river in New York
A man fishing on a river in New York


Fishing in New York is a beloved pastime that offers anglers a chance to connect with nature, challenge their skills, and create lasting memories. By obtaining the appropriate fishing license and adhering to the regulations, you can support conservation efforts while enjoying the state’s diverse waters legally.

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, New York offers a range of license options to suit your needs, from short-term permits to lifetime licenses. With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the information you need to embark on your next fishing adventure in the Empire State with confidence and excitement. So, grab your rod, secure your license, and get ready to experience the thrill of reeling in your next big catch!

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