Given that fishing is a popular sport in Ohio, it stands to reason that fishing license sales play a crucial role in helping the state to maintain its fisheries. Ohio offers its residents a number of fishing license options durations, and a number of exceptions for seniors and youth. With Lake Erie being a popular charter fishing destination, Ohio also offers a single day charter fishing permit option fro non-residents to purchase.  

If you intend to take fish from Ohio waters, you must have a valid Ohio fishing license.

Ohio Fishing Regulations

Ohio residents and visitors must possess a valid Ohio fishing license if you plan to take fish from Ohio waters. Same goes for frogs and turtles – if you want to take them with you then you must have a fishing license.

The State of Ohio states:

  • Ohio residents and non-residents must possess a valid Ohio fishing license if you plan to take fish from Ohio waters
  • A valid Ohio fishing license is required if you plan to take frogs or turtles with you
  • The state wide bag limit regulations for the following species:
    • Largemouth, Smallmouth, & Spotted Bass are limited to 5/day
    • Striped, Hybrid-Striped, & White Bass are limited to 30/day
    • Trout are limited to 5/day
    • Walleye, Sauger, & Saugeye are limited to 6/day
    • Yellow Perch are limited to 30/day
    • Muskellunge are limited to 1/day
    • Channel Catfish (28 inches or larger) are limited to 1/day
    • Channel Catfish (under 28 inches) are limited to 6 in public lakes under 700 acres and no limit in all other public waters
    • Blue & Flathead Catfish (35 inches or larger) are limited to 1/day. Any under 35 inches have no limit
    • The lake sturgeon is an endangered species in Ohio and must be returned unharmed to the water immediately if caught
    • All other fish have no limit
  • Anglers may not use more than two fishing lines, whether fastened to a pole, a rod and reel, or hand-held. Anglers may use up to three hooks on each line, except as provided in the Ohio Administrative Code.
  • Snagging with a hook to pierce and hook a fish in a part of the body other than the inside of the mouth is illegal for all fish except forage fish.
  • You may not possess more than 100 crayfish, or in combination 500 crayfish, minnows, and other baitfish
  • You may not use a cast net with a square mesh less than ¼ inch or larger than 1 inch on a side, or with a diameter greater than 10 feet.
  • You may not tag and release fish into any public water area
  • You may not possess a fish in any form or condition other than whole while on or when unloading the fish from a boat, while wading, or while fishing on or in any waters in this state where a fishing license is required.
  • You may not transport and introduce any aquatic species (fish, invertebrate, plant) from one body of water to another.
  • Fillets must be kept whole until an angler reaches their permanent residence, or until the fish are prepared for immediate consumption. This does not apply to anglers with a receipt from a fish cleaning house or charter captain which states the date, number, and type of fish possessed.
  • Fish must be transported whole or as a complete fillet while returning from the Lake Erie islands on a commercial ferry boat

Fishing License Period

Ohio fishing licenses can be purchased in 1 Day, 1 Year, 3 Year, 5 Year, 10 Year, and Lifetime increments for its residents. It offers it’s senior residents (age 66 or older) 1 Year, 3 Year, 5 Year, and Lifetime licenses.

Ohio fishing licenses are available as:

  • Daily fishing licenses
  • Annual fishing licenses
  • 3 year fishing licenses
  • 5 year fishing licenses
  • 10 year fishing licenses
  • Lifetime fishing licenses

Non-residents of Ohio may purchase fishing licenses in 1 Day, 1 Day Lake Erie Charter Fishing, or 1 Year variations.

Extra Licensing Fees

While some states require special fishing licenses to fish certain waters, or specific fish species, Ohio has few of those nuances aside from specific requirements around obtaining Lake Erie fishing permits – click the button below for the details.

Free or Reduced Fee Ohio Fishing Licenses

On Ohio’s Free Fishing Days the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational fishermen. If you’re a resident of Ohio, you qualify to fish for free. The most recent dates for Free Fishing Days in Ohio are May 4 and 5, 2019. 

The State of Ohio offers free fishing licenses or reduced fishing licenses for:

  • A fishermen under 16 years of age 
  • Ohio residents 82 years old or older
  • Anyone fishing during the Free Fishing Days
  • Any Ohio resident or non-resident who is mobility impaired
  • Any Ohio resident or non-resident who is a holder of veteran license plates with the international wheelchair symbol
  • Any Ohio resident or non-resident who is a permanently disabled Veterans
  • Ohio residents of state and county institutions
  • Any Ohio resident or non-resident who is a former prisoner of war

Buy an Ohio Fishing License