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How Much Does A California Fishing License Cost?

California Fishing License Cost
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Fishing in California can mean many different things to you. There are over 800 miles of coastline, more National Parks than any other state in the US, and more freshwater fishing locations than you could ever visit in one fishing season. 

The best thing about fishing in California is that it is a year-round form of entertainment because of the mild weather. It will cost you a little of your paycheck to enjoy this sport. So, how much is a fishing license in California?

The current price for a basic fishing license in California varies depending on your state residency and your level of health. If you are a state resident, the cost of a basic fishing license will be $54.00, and if you want to add some validations, the price will go up slightly, depending on what you want to add.

The primary fishing license will allow you, as a resident, to fish for any legal species listed in the complete regulationsOpens in a new tab.. The costs of the available licenses can vary depending on a few different circumstances, so let’s jump right into the information you are looking for.

Who Needs a Fishing License In California?

The government’s California Fish and Wildlife division takes its conservation rules and regulations very seriously. They have over 290 Wildlife Wardens that patrol throughout the state, randomly checking people out fishing. 

They are in charge of ensuring that all recreational anglers are licensed and following the rules and regulations set in the area where they are fishing.

All anglers 16 years or older must have a fishing license for all basic fishing, and they all need the proper validations for the extra fishing and gathering tasks they want to add. The costs for a citizen of California will be much cheaper than people coming into fish that are not residents.

If you were born and raised in the state, you would easily meet the qualifications set to be a resident. If you have recently moved into the state, you will need to see if you qualify for the more affordable pricing.

Requirements To Be a California Resident

If you want a California resident fishing license, you must establish that you live in the state and that your home is your primary residence. According to state regulations, you must live at least 2/3 of the year in your California residence. But fishing rules are different. 

You will not qualify for a resident fishing license if your home is designed for vacation purposes.

  • Continuously living in California for 6 months or more before applying for a fishing license in the state.
  • Enrolled in active military service of any branch.
  • Any person enrolled in the Job Corps.

The easiest way to meet these requirements is to have an established home within the state. Renting, leasing, or buying a place will show how long you have been in the state. 

There are other documents that you can also use to prove your residency, including car registration or utility bills that show the home address of the service. 

If you are an official resident, your fishing license costs will be set for you as long as you are over 16 years old.

California Fishing License Costs for Residents

There is only one cost for the basic fishing license in California, but the license prices can vary depending on your needs and where you are sitting. Let’s slow down and take the time to learn about the current pricing for California resident fishing license costs.

Resident fishing license$54.00
Disabled Veterans$8.64
Visually mobility and developmentally impairedFREE
Native Americans with stipulationsFREE
Duplicate license$11.88
One-day fishing license$17.54
Two-day fishing license$27.00
Second-rod fishing validation$17.02
Ocean enhancements in required areas$6.22
Duplicate validations (each)$3.24

As a resident, the cost of fishing in California is a compilation of expenses you must sort through. If you qualify for a free or discounted fee, you will need to review the specific requirements and see if you fit within the set parameters. If not, you will need to understand what your other options are.

California Fishing License Costs for Non-Residents

The costs of the main fishing license are slightly different for anglers that are not residents of the state. Some of the extras cost the same but keep in mind that they are additions to the license you are purchasing, and if you have limits (such as a day fishing license) will be added to the primary cost of the fishing license.

Non-resident fishing license$145.80
Duplicate license$11.88
One-day fishing license$17.54
Two-day fishing license$27.00
Ten-day fishing license$54.00
Second-rod validation$17.02
Ocean enhancement in required areas$6.22
Duplicate validations (each)$3.24

The main difference in the costs between residents and non-residents is the fishing license for the year. If you are planning to be a resident but have not been in the state long enough, go ahead and pay for the year or wait until you have been in the area for six months. If you are coming to the state for a short time, you will be better off getting a license by the days you need.

A Word on Ocean Enhancements

Ocean enhancements are only needed in some locations. It is only required in the areas south of Point Arguello in Santa Barbara County. If you have opted to pay for the one or two-day fishing license, this will include it, so you will not have to purchase it again.

You do not need this enhancement if you are fishing north of Point Arguello, so know where you will fish before you go there. If in doubt, pay the extra money to get the enhancement to be safe.

Can You Ever Fish Without a License

There are always times of the year, or in a specific area, when you can fish in California without a license. Refrain from assuming that a place you are going to will not require a fishing license because there is no excuse for breaking the law if you are wrong. If ever in doubt, call the local California Fish and Wildlife center and ask.

  • Free fishing days (in 2022 will be July 2 and September 3.
  • Native Americans that cannot afford the licensing fees
  • Disabled people due to vision, mobility, or developmentally impaired.
  • Accessible public piers, jetties, and breakwaters
  • Anglers under 16 years old

If you are not the angler that goes out every chance possible, you should take advantage of the days you can hit the water for free. Pay for a year of fishing only when you plan to wet your line several times.

California Fishing License Extra Fees

Basic fishing is good enough for many anglers, but sometimes your fishing trips require something extra. The small fees that can be added to your primary license are small, but they are required if there are regulations set into place.

North coast salmon report card$7.56
Steelhead trout report card$8.38
Sturgeon fishing report card$9.46
2021/22 spiny lobster report card (until March 16, 2022)$10.54
2022/23 spiny lobster report card (available August 15th, 2022)$10.80
Spiny lobster non-reporting fee$21.60
Recreational crab trap$2.42
SHARE fishing application$12.70
Annual lands pass$28.08
One-day lands pass$4.89
Duplicate lands pass$11.88
North coast salmon report card$7.56
Steelhead trout report card$8.38
Sturgeon fishing report card$9.46
2021/22 spiny lobster report card (until March 16, 2022)$10.54
2022/23 spiny lobster report card (available August 15th, 2022)$10.80
Spiny lobster non-reporting fee$21.60
Recreational crab trap$2.42
SHARE fishing application$12.70
Annual lands pass$28.08
One-day lands pass$4.89
Duplicate lands pass$11.88

The extra costs are not mandatory, except for the land pass if you are just along for the ride. If you have a fishing license of any kind, you will not need to get a land pass. 

However, if you do not have a fishing license, you will need a land pass to legally gain access to the areas of the state that require them.

Remember to turn in your report cards by January 31 of the following year. This is when they are due, so set the alarm if you need to.

Where To Buy Your California Fishing License

Now that you know all the rules and regulations when obtaining a California Fishing License, you may wonder where to get one. 

The simple answer is that you can get the license directly from the California Fish and Wildlife websiteOpens in a new tab. or from one of their participating sales centers. 

Or you can go to a local retail or fishing sales center, such as Walmart, Big 5 Sporting Goods, or any other favorite location you may frequent.

What Can Be Done If You Lose Your License

The costs of a replacement license are listed above, but they are $11.88 for a duplicate of your basic license or $3.24 for each validation that you need a replacement for. If you want to avoid these fees, pay for your license online.

You can download it, save the license information on your mobile phone, and save it in the Cloud to ensure that you always have access to it. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your license, even if you take a picture of the original license. 

Print out a copy if you have a printer at home, and worry more about catching fish than replacing a misplaced license.

Policies On Shared Bodies Of Water

Several bodies of water in California also fall into one of the surrounding states. Interstate bodies of water, such as Lake Tahoe and Topaz Lake, can be fished with a California fishing license or a fishing license from the state that the body of water is part of.

This can sometimes get confusing because if you are in Arizona but fishing the waters in California, you are legal. But you cannot use an Arizona license to fish in other areas of California. It only works in the body of water that is in both states.

A Word on Anglers Under 16

You may be wondering why anglers under the age of 16 years old are not charged to fish. Some states charge a smaller fee for younger children for various things, but when it comes to fishing in California, government officials have decided to give them a free pass.

A free pass to fish as much as they want, anywhere they want, as long as they are with an older angler that does have a license. The reasoning behind this is actually very simple. 

The younger a person becomes interested in fishing, the more likely they will pick it up as one of their main hobbies when they are older.

This means more money for the state as younger generations begin paying for their licenses. This ensures that California Fish and WildlifeOpens in a new tab. always have an income coming in. 

An income that not only delivers the wages of the Wardens’ wages and improves the overall fishing experience with upgrades to fishing access sites and roads to those spots.

Can I Use My California Fishing License for Surf Fishing with a Drone?

Yes, you can use your California fishing license for surf fishing with a drone, as long as you adhere to the surf fishing drone laws CaliforniaOpens in a new tab.. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and guidelines to ensure you are in compliance while enjoying this unique fishing experience.


The cost of a fishing license in California is more complex than you think because of all the variables involved. The good thing is that set amounts are put into place so you can understand the costs and why they are there. These prices are updated yearly, even when no changes have been made.

What is vital to remember is that you need to know where you will be fishing. This allows you to review the regulations and see if you need any extra items added to your primary license. 

You need to always have what you need on it, and if you are ever unsure, you can either call and talk to your local specialist or pay for the extra items and support your state’s fisheries.

Sources in a new tab. – Fishing In California in a new tab. – Fishing and Hunting Regulations in a new tab. – Online License Sales And Service

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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