California is a vast and diverse state offering saltwater fishing, and freshwater fishing to sport and commercial fishermen. We will be discussing only the California sportfishing licensing here. With a coastal state this large there are bound to be many different fishing license options which we’ll explain here, along with a few tips from the team here so you can keep your costs down. Please remember that fishing licenses are required for any person attempting to take fish, crustraceans (shellfish), and more from California waters. By buying a license, you are helping to pay for fishery conservation education,  and other programs designed to sustain California fisheries for generations to come.

California Fishing Regulations

Sportfishing Regulations

This is not an exhaustive list of regulations by any means, but it does address the more relevant regulations of interest to our readers:

  • Regulations and limitations for Trout, Steelhead and Salmon vary by body of water
  • All fish may be taken day or night (there are exceptions)
  • Snagging is prohibited statewide, and fish may be taken only by angling
  • Chumming is permitted only in specific areas
  • There are two sets of fishing regulations for the state of California, one for freshwater and another for saltwater
  • A complete list of California’s fishing regulations can be found here

Resident vs Non-Resident

California offers preferred pricing for state residents, and this proves to be a significant savings over the non-resident rate. Remember to bring your state issued identification with you to purchase your license.

License Period

California fishing licenses are available in several lengths: the 1-Day fishing license, the 2-Day License, the 10-Day license, the Annual license, and the lifetime license. The annual license is a great value, and tends to be the preferred option for most fishermen.

Extra Licensing Fees

When you purchase your California fishing license you will have the option to add additional validations or cards which will allow you to add a second rod, fish for certain species such as abalone, sturgeon, or steelhead.

Pier Fishing

California does not require fishermen to purchase a fishing license when fishing on a public pier.

Free or Reduced Fee California Fishing Licenses

Low income Native Americans and Mobility Impaired, Blind, or Developmentally Disabled fishermen may obtain sport fishing license for free. While low income Senior Citizens, Recovering Service Members, and Disabled Veterans qualify for reduced fee fishing licenses in the state of California.

Buy a California Fishing License Online