Navigating the Fishing Licenses in a state as massive as Texas is not an easy feat. It’s also a very diverse state offering saltwater fishing, and freshwater fishing to sport fishermen, and commercial fishermen alike. We will be discussing only the Texas sport fishing licenses here, with particular emphasis on freshwater.
With a state of this size there are bound to be many fishing license options which we’ll discuss here, along with a 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, clams, mussels, crayfish, or any other aquatic life from Texas waters. By buying a license, you are helping to pay for fishery conservation education, and other programs designed to sustain Texas fisheries for our future.
Texas Fishing Regulations
The state of Texas states:
- You may not take, kill, or disturb sea turtles
- You may not take, kill, or disturb any endangered or threatened fish species. Some of the more common ones are paddlefish, shovel-nosed sturgeon, and sawfish
- You may not place any game fish into public waters, other than the body of water where the fish was caught, unless you have a valid permit issued by TPWD (this includes fish caught by pole and line)
- You may not use any vessel to harry, herd or drive fish including, but not limited to, operating any vessel in a repeated circular course, for the purpose of or resulting in the concentration of fish for the reason of taking or attempting to take fish
- You may not use any game fish or part of a game fish as bait
- You may not release a fish with a device or substance implanted or attached to produce an audible, visual, or electronic signal used to monitor, track, follow, or in any manner help in locating it
- You may not leave edible fish or bait fish taken from the public waters of the state to die without the intent to retain the fish for consumption or bait
- You may not be in possession of more fish than the daily bag limit or fish that are within a protected length limit
- Any fish that are caught by using any type of holding device such as stringer, cooler, livewell, or bucket are considered in an angler’s possession and must adhere to established length and bag limits
- In order to verify length and species, a fish caught may not have the head or tail removed and may not be filleted until an angler finally lands the catch on the mainland, a peninsula, or barrier island not including jetties or piers and does not transport the catch by boat
- Any fish taken from public water and landed by boat or person in Texas must adhere to the length limits and daily bag and possession limits established for those fish in Texas regardless of the state or country in which they were caught
- You may not import a wildlife or aquatic resource into this state or possess a resource taken outside this state unless:
- You possess a valid fishing, or other applicable license, endorsement, tag, permit, or document for the state or country in which the resource was legally taken
- You produce a valid driver’s license or personal identification certificate upon request of a game warden
Fishing License Period
Texas fishing licenses are available as:
- Daily fishing licenses
- Annual fishing licenses
- Lifetime fishing licenses
The annual license is a great value, and tends to be the preferred option for most fishermen.
Residents of Texas with valid identification can obtain fishing licenses at a significant savings, generally accounting for about a 35% or greater savings over the non-resident fees.
Extra Licensing Fees
When you purchase your Texas fishing license you will have the option to add packages for freshwater, saltwater, and all water fishing access. In addition tags can be purchased for red drum fishing, the use of trotlines, trawl tags, and more.
Fishing in Texas State Parks
Texas anglers can also enjoy free fishing year-round at over 70 state parks. All other fishing regulations, including fish length and bag limits, are in effect. Park entry fees still apply so factor that into your decision to fish in Texas state parks. A fishing license and endorsement are not required if you are state park property, or if you’re fishing water which is entirely surrounded by a state park. On man-made structures such as docks, piers, and jetties that are within state parks, fishing is allowed by pole-and-line only, with a limit of two poles per person.
Free Or Reduced Fee Texas Fishing Licenses
The state of Texas offers free or reduced fee fishing licenses for anyone in the following groups:
- On the first Saturday in June every year, everyone may fish recreationally without the need to purchase a fishing license
- Texas residents or non-residents disabled veterans
- Texas residents who are active Duty Military
Fishing Licenses Are NOT Required For
In Texas, fishing licenses are not required for:
- A Texas resident or non-resident under 17 years of age
- A Texas resident or non-resident born before January 1, 1931
- A Texas resident or non-resident who is a developmentally disabled person fishing as part of medically approved therapy, under the immediate supervision of personnel approved or employed by a hospital, residence or school for mentally disabled persons
- A Texas resident or non-resident who is a developmentally disabled person fishing under the direct supervision of a licensed angler who is either a family member or has permission from the family to take the person fishing
- Louisiana residents 65 years of age or older who possesses a valid Louisiana Recreational Fishing License
- Oklahoma residents 65 years of age or older