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Fishing License 20 FAQs

What are the types of fishing and hunting licenses available in the U.S.?

The available types of combo fishing and hunting licenses depends on a combination of your local wildlife department’s policies, whether or not any species of animal in your area are protected and whether or not you live in a coastal state. Combo fishing and hunting licenses are typically categorized by the type of wildlife it allows the applicant to catch and the length of time the license is valid for. Not all states offer combination fishing and hunting licenses, while some states offer only combo licenses.

What is the difference between “angling” and “spear fishing”?

Angling is when a fisherman or woman uses a hook and line to catch fish, while spear fishing is when they use a spear. Many states differentiate between the two when issuing fishing licenses.

What are the most popular types of equipment used for hunting and fishing?

Anglers typically use a rod and reel hooked with bait for fishing. Other types of equipment used to fish are spears and ? for commercial fishermen and women ? nets. Hunters typically use hunting rifles to catch game, though there are dozens of different types of hunting rifles to choose from. Other common types of hunting equipment include the muzzleloading rifle, bow and arrow and crossbow.

Am I allowed to take my child on fishing and/or hunting trips?

Every state has its own rules and regulations regarding fishing and/or hunting license requirements as they pertain to children. Children younger than a certain age can fish without fishing licenses as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult. The same is true for hunting, though hunting age restrictions are typically more stringent due to the higher risk of injury. Therefore, children can embark on both hunting and fishing trips so long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult and meet the hunting and fishing license requirements set by the state’s wildlife department.

Do I have to get a recreational sporting license?

Every state in the U.S. requires both hunters and anglers to buy hunting and fishing licenses prior to embarking on recreational sporting trips. The types of hunting and fishing licenses required depend on the state’s location and wildlife policies. For instance, coastal states require anglers to buy either a freshwater fishing license for inland fishing or a saltwater fishing license for off-shore fishing. Most states also have regulations regarding which animals are in season for hunting at certain times of the year. Your local wildlife department sets the policies on recreational hunting and fishing license requirements.

At what age must I buy hunting and fishing licenses?

Age requirements for buying fishing and hunting licenses vary, depending on your local wildlife department’s policies. Most states require children 16 years of age or older to have a recreational fishing license before a fishing trip. For hunting, children are typically required to be licensed by 12 years of age, though there are a few states that require children as young as 10 years of age to acquire licenses for both fishing and hunting.

Do I need to take a fishing or hunting license education course?

State wildlife department fishing license policies do not require anglers to take a fishing education course prior to buying a recreational fishing license. However, hunters in every state are required to take hunter education courses before they can be issued a hunting license. Therefore, prior to buying a combo fishing and hunting license, applicants must first complete their state’s hunter education requirements. It is also recommended that novice anglers take advantage of voluntary fishing education opportunities offered in their area as well.

Where are the best places to go fishing and hunting in the U.S.?

The United States are filled with dozens of locations that have been named one of the best spots to fish in or hunt in. Depending on the type of animal you would like to catch, anglers and hunters of varying skill levels will find certain spots better than others. To find out the best fishing and hunting spots in your state, contact your local fish and wildlife service.

Is there a policy on alcohol consumption during fishing or hunting trips?

Though there are no national laws against bringing alcoholic beverages on fishing trips, many states restrict alcohol use when hunting on public grounds. Your local fish and wildlife service may also have laws against consuming alcohol in public fishing areas. Likewise, if you are operating a boat during your fishing trip, you must adhere to local boating laws to avoid receiving a DUI conviction. Certain states allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed in designated areas, though many times you are required to purchase an alcohol permit to do so.

Is there anything I should keep in mind when leaving my fishing area?

Local wildlife services throughout the country urge both anglers and hunters with fishing and hunting licenses not to dump any non-native items or substances into local waters. Likewise, the wildlife service asks that all non-native items be removed from camps following a hunting trip to avoid possible adverse effects on the wildlife. Anglers and hunters who notice anybody leaving non-native items or substances behind on local waters or public hunting grounds should report the incident to a local wildlife agency.

Do I have to register with a national organization once I have a fishing or hunting license?

Due to the Magnuson-Stevens Act enacted by the U.S. Congress, it is now required that all saltwater anglers with saltwater fishing licenses in the U.S. be registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA works in conjunction with coastal state wildlife agencies, as well as interstate marine fisheries commissions, in an effort to make sure registration efforts are realized. Though there is no official national organization that registers hunters, hunters are required to participate in relevant education programs prior to purchasing any type of hunting license.

Why do only saltwater anglers need to register with the NOAA?

Most recreational fishing in the U.S. takes place in marine waters, which means that saltwater angling data is a good indicator of overall fishing trends in the United States. The NOAA uses the required saltwater fishing license registration information to collect recreational fishing data. Collected data creates a network of saltwater anglers that can improve surveys, as well as allow national agencies to keep tabs on how much fishing is taking place in certain locations. This data helps these agencies with marine conservation efforts, among other tasks.

Can I fish and hunt on another state’s lands and bodies of water with my state fishing and/or hunting license? 

Policies for using out of state fishing licenses and hunting licenses depend on the licensing requirements of the local fish and wildlife service. Typically an out-of-state license only allows anglers to fish in federal waters, so long as you are not fishing for tuna, sharks, swordfish or billfish (these require a federal Highly Migratory Species permit). Specific policies for hunting or fishing on inland areas vary depending on the state. However, all states require visitors to get a non-resident fishing and hunting license to conduct the sports in local areas. For more information, contact the wildlife department of the state in question.

Where can I get information on endangered species?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program displays the various types, background information and statistics of endangered animal species from both land and sea on its official website. There you can also read about the various recovery plans for each species, as well as enjoy a photo gallery and the child-oriented Kid’s Corner. Additional information on Endangered Species can be found by searching the National Conservation Training Center’s library and/or Publications Clearinghouse.

What is the purpose of federal hatcheries?

National Fish Hatcheries was created in 1871 in response to national conservation efforts started at the time. Fish hatcheries are used to produce fish that, in turn, can help manage and restore both endangered and common fishing populations around the country.

How do I protect against biting insects when I am out on a hunting or fishing trip?

Summer months typically bring an increase in biting insects such as mosquitoes, black flies and ticks. To prevent potentially disastrous biting incidents, you should remain properly dressed in either hunting or fishing-specific clothing whenever you are out on a trip. Long sleeved shirts can prevent bites on your arms, while tucking in your shirt can prevent bites under your clothes. Try and avoid dark clothing (primarily blue and green) as they attract insects. Additionally, there are many insect repellents available that can be very useful in preventing bites. Whenever you spend time outdoors, make sure afterwards to check yourself and other members of your party for any insect bites, primarily ticks as tick bites can lead to lyme disease.

Do I need a license to fish or hunt on land or bodies of water on my private property?

Most states do not require anglers to have a fishing license to catch fish from bodies of water on their private property. Likewise, few states require hunters to get a license when hunting certain types of game on their private property (i.e. small game). However, almost all states require hunters to acquire hunting permits to hunt certain types of game (i.e. deer, bear, turkey) no matter whether they are hunting on public or private property. Check with your local wildlife department for hunting regulations specific to your area.

Can I stock fish in a public body of water?

No, you are not allowed to stock fish for the purpose of releasing into public streams, rivers or reservoirs. Doing so can cause major damage to fishing populations in the area. Only local wildlife agencies are allowed to introduce wildlife into public waters.

Can I clean or dress my catch while still out on my trip?

You may clean or dress your catch while out on a fishing or hunting trip so long as the alteration does not drastically change the appearance of the catch or make it so that the species is unrecognizable to wildlife authorities. However, it is recommended that you clean catches soon after harvesting them.

What are the collected fees to buy fishing and/or hunting licenses used for?

Recreational fishing and hunting license fees are collected by local wildlife agencies and used to help wildlife conservation efforts throughout the country. Additional resources are provided by taxes on fishing and hunting equipment and motorboat fuel, as well as through the sale of hunting permits allowing access to government-owned hunting grounds. Resources are allocated to initiatives such as the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program and the Migratory Bird Program. A large portion of revenue also goes to fisheries management programs in each state.