Fishing is a beloved pastime in Arkansas, with its abundant lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with diverse fish species. However, understanding the state’s fishing license requirements and exemptions is crucial to ensure you stay compliant while enjoying your angling adventures.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of who is exempt from needing a fishing license in Arkansas, covering various categories such as age, disability, military status, and specific fishing locations. We’ll also explore the rationale behind these exemptions and how license fees contribute to conservation efforts.

Summary

Here are the key points covered in this article:

  • Children under 16 years old are exempt from needing a fishing license in Arkansas.
  • Residents aged 65 and above, as well as those with 100% disability, are exempt from purchasing a fishing license.
  • Active-duty military personnel stationed in Arkansas and Arkansas residents serving elsewhere can obtain resident fishing licenses.
  • Landowners and tenants fishing on their own property or leased land are exempt.
  • Anglers fishing in licensed “put-and-take” pay lakes do not require a license.

Age-Based Exemptions

One of the most significant exemptions in Arkansas is for children under 16 years old. They can fish without a license, making it an excellent opportunity for families to introduce their kids to the joys of fishing. However, children must still abide by all other fishing regulations, such as daily limits and size restrictions.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Arkansas residents aged 65 and above are also exempt from needing a fishing license. This exemption applies to both freshwater and saltwater fishing within the state’s boundaries. However, if they wish to fish for trout or in certain designated trout waters, they must purchase an annual trout permit.

Disability Exemptions

Arkansas residents who are 100% disabled, as certified by the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Railroad Retirement Board, are exempt from needing a fishing license. They can apply for a 3-year disability fishing license or a 3-year combination license, which includes hunting and fishing privileges, at a discounted rate.

Additionally, licensed anglers who are permanently mobility-impaired can obtain a Mobility-Impaired Access Permit, which grants them special access privileges in certain areas on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), from the boardwalk and piers at Dry Run Creek, and from the piers on Collins Creek downstream of the wooden vehicle bridge in JFK Park. This permit is free of charge and can be obtained by submitting an application to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).

Military Exemptions

Arkansas offers several discounted licenses and exemptions for active-duty military personnel and veterans. Active-duty service members assigned to a duty station in Arkansas are eligible to purchase annual or trip fishing licenses at the resident rate, regardless of their home state of residency. This privilege extends to all types of fishing licenses, including those for trout fishing or other specialized activities.

Similarly, active-duty personnel who entered the U.S. Armed Forces from Arkansas can also purchase annual or trip fishing licenses at the resident rate, even if they are currently stationed outside the state. This exemption applies regardless of where they are currently serving, as long as they can provide proof of their Arkansas residency at the time of enlistment.

Disabled veterans who are Arkansas residents and have a 100% permanent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain a 3-year disability fishing license or a 3-year combination license at a discounted rate.

Landowner and Tenant Exemptions

Landowners and tenants who own or lease land in Arkansas are exempt from needing a fishing license when fishing on their own property or leased land. However, this exemption does not apply to fishing on public waters or lands owned by others.

“Put-and-Take” Pay Lake Exemptions

Anglers fishing in licensed “put-and-take” pay lakes in Arkansas are exempt from needing a fishing license. These are privately owned lakes where the owners stock fish and charge a fee for fishing.

Reciprocal Agreements with Neighboring States

Arkansas has reciprocal agreements with several neighboring states, allowing anglers to fish in certain shared waters without needing a separate license from the other state. For example:

  • The White River Border Lakes License (WRL) allows holders of a valid resident license from either Arkansas or Missouri to fish all waters of Bull Shoals, Norfork, and Table Rock lakes without a fishing license from the other state.
  • Arkansas and Mississippi recognize each other’s resident fishing licenses on the flowing waters of the Mississippi River, adjacent sloughs, bayous, old river runs (if accessible by boat from the river proper), and old river chutes that form a common boundary.
  • Arkansas and Tennessee recognize each other’s fishing licenses on the flowing waters of the Mississippi River, adjacent sloughs, bayous, old river runs (if accessible by boat from the river proper), and old river chutes that form a common boundary.

It’s important to note that while these exemptions exist, all anglers must still comply with other fishing regulations, such as daily limits, size restrictions, and closed seasons. Additionally, some exemptions may require proof of residency, disability, or other documentation.

Supporting Conservation Efforts

The fees collected from fishing license sales play a crucial role in supporting conservation efforts and maintaining healthy fish populations in Arkansas. A portion of these funds goes towards habitat restoration, fish stocking programs, and public access initiatives, ensuring that the state’s waterways remain vibrant and teeming with life for generations to come.

By obtaining the appropriate fishing licenses and permits, you not only gain legal access to Arkansas’s fishing opportunities but also contribute to the preservation of these natural resources for all to enjoy.

Obtaining Your Fishing License

To obtain your fishing license as an eligible angler in Arkansas, follow these simple steps:

  1. Gather Required Documents: Have your proof of age, residency, disability (if applicable), or military status ready, as well as any other required documentation.
  2. Visit an AGFC Regional Office or License Vendor: You can purchase your fishing license in person at any AGFC regional office or an authorized license vendor throughout the state. Many bait and tackle shops and outdoor retailers also sell fishing licenses.
  3. Purchase Online: The AGFC offers the convenience of purchasing fishing licenses online through their website or mobile app. Simply create an account, provide the required documentation, and complete the purchase process.
  4. Obtain Additional Permits or Stamps: If you plan to fish for trout or engage in other specialized fishing activities, be sure to purchase the necessary permits or stamps at the same time as your fishing license.

By following these steps, you can easily obtain your fishing license and take advantage of the privileges extended to various groups in Arkansas.

Explore Arkansas’s Fishing Hotspots

With your fishing license in hand, it’s time to explore the diverse fishing opportunities Arkansas has to offer. From the crystal-clear waters of the Ouachita Mountains to the meandering streams of the Ozark Highlands, the state boasts a wealth of fishing destinations for anglers of all skill levels.

Some popular fishing spots in Arkansas include:

  • Bull Shoals Lake: Known for its excellent bass, crappie, and walleye fishing, this reservoir in northern Arkansas offers ample opportunities for both bank and boat anglers.
  • Norfork Lake: Located in the Ozark Mountains, this lake is renowned for its trophy trout fishing, particularly in the tailwaters below the dam.
  • Greers Ferry Lake: This massive reservoir in central Arkansas is a prime destination for bass, crappie, and catfish anglers, with numerous coves and inlets to explore.
  • Ouachita River: This scenic river in western Arkansas is a favorite among fly fishers and offers excellent opportunities for catching smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and various sunfish species.
  • Lake Chicot: As the largest natural oxbow lake in North America, Lake Chicot in southeastern Arkansas is a popular spot for catching crappie, bass, and catfish.

Remember, by following the regulations and obtaining the appropriate licenses and permits, you not only ensure a legal and enjoyable fishing experience but also contribute to the conservation of Arkansas’s rich fishing heritage for future generations.

Conclusion

Fishing in Arkansas is a cherished tradition that offers countless opportunities for outdoor recreation and connection with nature. By understanding the state’s fishing license requirements and exemptions, you can embark on your angling adventures with confidence and peace of mind.

Whether you’re a lifelong resident, a visitor, or a member of the armed forces stationed in Arkansas, this guide has provided you with the essential information to navigate the licensing process seamlessly. Remember to always carry your valid fishing license or proof of exemption while fishing, and respect the regulations in place to ensure the sustainability of Arkansas’s aquatic resources.

So, grab your tackle box, lace up your waders, and get ready to experience the thrill of casting your line in The Natural State’s pristine waters. With its diverse array of fishing destinations and abundant fish populations, Arkansas promises unforgettable angling experiences for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

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