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The Visitor’s Easy Guide to Florida Fishing Licenses

Are you dreaming of hours out on Florida’s waters reeling in majestic fish? Before you pack up your gear and head out, make sure you get your Florida fishing license. Let’s take a closer look at how to do that quickly and easily.

Do You Need a Freshwater or Saltwater Florida Fishing License?

That depends on where you’ll be fishing. As experienced fishers know, the right answer isn’t always clear. In general, you’ll need at least one of these licenses (or a combination license) if you plan to fish anywhere in Florida, regardless of whether you plan to keep the fish or not.

When you think of Florida, you may only think of saltwater fishing. But Florida has great freshwater fishing, too!

Freshwater Fishing Licenses 

Freshwater fishing licenses allow you to fish in Florida’s freshwater rivers and lakes legally. You’ll need one for both native and non-native fish. 

Saltwater Fishing Licenses

You need a saltwater fishing license if you plan to fish in saltwater for any “fish, crabs, clams, marine plants, or other saltwater organisms.” You’ll need a Florida license regardless of whether you fish in Florida state waters or federal waters. 

What Type of Florida Fishing License Should You Choose?

There are several different varieties of Florida fishing licenses beyond the type of water you plan to fish in. Let’s examine each.

Resident License

Florida offers discounted annual and long-term licenses for state residents. Prove you’re a Florida resident with a Florida driver’s license, state ID card, or military orders showing you’re stationed in Florida.

You can also prove your Florida residency with a voter registration card, homestead exemption, or declaration of domicile from your county clerk. Fishers under 18 can prove they’re Florida residents with a student ID card or proof of a parent’s residency. 

Tom Morton fishing in florida
Tom fishing in Florida

Did you know Florida is a popular home base for full-time RVers? Learn more here: How to Change Your Domicile to Florida

Non-Resident License

Everyone else will need to get a non-resident license. You can purchase non-resident permits valid for three days, five days, or a full year. 

Combination License

Like to fish in both salt and fresh water? A combination license may be a good option for you. These annual licenses allow you to fish in any legal waters in Florida. However, they’re only available to state residents. You can also purchase a combination license that includes a state hunting license.  

Sportsman’s License

These annual permits allow you to fish in freshwater and hunt in various ways, including archery, crossbows, and muzzleloading guns. With this license, you can hunt deer, turkey, and waterfowl. However, this license doesn’t include saltwater fishing or harvesting snook or lobster, and it’s only available to Florida residents.

Florida fishing licenses are optional for kids.

Youth License

Do you have a son, daughter, or another young person interested in fishing? They can pick up an optional Resident Youth Florida Fishing License. Kids as young as eight can get one, and it’ll be valid until their 17th birthday.

Children can also earn a Youth Gold Sportsman’s License by completing hunting education requirements. However, kids can still fish without these licenses, and they’re only available to Florida residents.

Lifetime License

If you’re a diehard fisher who hits the water like clockwork every year, you may want to invest in a lifetime license. Available only to Florida residents, there are separate lifetime licenses for saltwater and freshwater.

It’s worth buying early — the price more than doubles once you turn 13. These licenses can be a great gift for young anglers with a lifetime of outdoor activities ahead.

Florida Fishing License

Money from the sale of these licenses goes toward a special conservation fund. And even if you later move out of state, your lifetime license will remain active.  

Shoreline Only License

Florida provides a special type of fishing license if you plan to fish in saltwater, but only from land or a structure attached to the land. These are free and only available to Floridians. Non-Florida residents have to purchase a regular saltwater fishing license. 

Who Doesn’t Need a Fishing License?

Some individuals don’t need a Florida fishing license. For example, those under 16 won’t need a license, nor will state residents over 65. Standard licenses are also not required for those who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person’s Hunting and Fishing License or Florida residents who are a “client for developmental disabilities services.”

You can also take advantage of license-free freshwater and saltwater fishing days. Additionally, there’s a long list of more narrow exemptions for special circumstances. 

How to Buy a Fishing License in Florida | FishingBooker

Freshwater Exemptions

You don’t need a license to fish in bodies of freshwater that are part of your homestead. Additionally, you can fish without a permit in artificial ponds that are 20 acres or less and located entirely on private property. You’re also permitted to fish in the St. Mary’s River or Lake Seminole without a Florida state license if you hold a Georgia fishing license. 

Saltwater Exemptions 

Those heading out on saltwater on a properly licensed charter also won’t need a license. Florida residents receiving food stamps, temporary cash assistance, or Medicaid also get exemptions if they fish from land. Other Floridians fishing from a pier will need a saltwater pier license instead.

Heading to the Florida Keys to do some offshore fishing? Check out these top-rated charters: 10 Awesome Florida Keys Fishing Charters for Your Vacation

You don’t need a Florida fishing license on a properly licensed charter boat.

How Much Does a Florida Fishing License Cost?

The price of a Florida fishing license will vary depending on the type of license and your residency. For Floridians, both freshwater and saltwater licenses will cost $17 for a year or $79 for five years. Non-residents can get three-day, five-day, and annual licenses for $17, $30, and $47, respectively. 

Combination licenses cost $32.50 annually, or $48 to add a hunting license to your freshwater and saltwater fishing one. An annual resident sportsman’s license costs $80.50. Optional youth licenses will run $17. Lifetime licenses start at $126.50 for those age 4 and under. For kids 5-12, they cost $226.50, and for anyone over 13, they cost $301.50. Again, these specialized options are only available to Florida residents. 

How Much Is a Ticket for Fishing Without a License in Florida?

Florida fishing licenses are cheap and easy to get, so you have no excuse for getting caught without one. However, those who do will have to pay a $50 fine plus the license cost. Get caught more than once in three years, and the fine increases to $250 plus the cost of the license. 

catching a wahoo fish in florida
One of my favorite catches in Florida is wahoo

Where Can You Buy a Florida Fishing License?

Florida lets you pick up a fishing license in a variety of easy and convenient ways. The simplest may be the state’s official hunting and fishing license website. With this site, you can simply add any licenses you need to your cart and purchase them all at once.

You can also obtain them via the state’s hunting and fishing license mobile app, known as Fish|Hunt FL. Be aware — online and phone purchases incur additional fees.

For the less tech-savvy, you can get a license by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356). Or pick up one in-person at a state license agent or tax collector’s office

Florida has some of the country’s best fishing. Once you figure out the right license for you, it’s as simple as a few clicks, a phone call, or a quick errand before you’re heading out onto the water.

florida fishing from the beach
If you tend to get seasick, consider fishing from the shoreline instead.

Looking for a place to stay near the water? Relax at one of the 10 Most Beautiful Oceanfront Campgrounds in Florida.

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