The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is sponsoring eight license-free fishing days in Florida during 2020, and two big weekends are coming up in June.
License-free fishing days in Florida
- June 6 and 7, 2020. (First Saturday and Sunday in June.)
- Sept. 5, 2020. (First Saturday in September.)
- Nov. 28, 2020. (Saturday following Thanksgiving.)
- April 4 and 5, 2020. (First Saturday and Sunday in April.)
- June 13 and 14, 2020. (Second Saturday and Sunday in June.)
So dig into your garage for that idle rod and reel, pick up some bait at your local tackle shop and get out there to enjoy the outdoors.
Under Florida law, all anglers fishing in salt or freshwater, whether from a boat or from shore, are required to have a license in their possession with few exceptions (seniors over 65 and children under 16).
The requirements are suspended on select days each year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to encourage residents to get out and fish.
The saltwater waiver applies to any recreational harvest requiring a saltwater fishing license (e.g., crabbing, lobstering, scalloping, etc.) as well as fishing from shore or a boat. A snook or spiny lobster permit are also not required on these days.
Florida residents fish from shore all year for free
Saltwater fishing from shore is free year around for Florida residents of all ages, but you must obtain a free license and have it in your possession while fishing.
A license is not required on the saltwater license-free fishing days noted above.
This license does not cover anyone fishing from a boat or from an island where they arrived at by boat.
Non-residents are not eligible and must buy a saltwater license, which costs $17 for 3 days, $30 for 7 days or $47 for a full year.
Residents 65+, under 16 don’t need a license any time
If you are child under 16 or a senior 65 or older, no physical license is required. Seniors are required, however, to have proof age and proof of residency. A driver’s license will suffice, but seniors can obtain a Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate online at gooutdoorsflorida.com
Otherwise, all anglers must have a license
Salt or freshwater fishing licenses are issued separately and cost $17 a year each for Florida residents. A combination salt-and-freshwater license for residents is $32.50.
There are a few exemptions:
- No license is necessary on license-free fishing days.
- Children under 16 are not required to have a fishing license.
- Florida resident age 65 or older do not need a license but must possess proof of age and residency or a Resident Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate.
- The free resident shoreline license covers pier fishing, and many fishing piers have blanket licenses to cover other anglers, resident and non-resident.
- Charter captains will have a boat license that covers anglers on board, resident or non-resident.
- Here are additional regulations — seasons, bag limits, etc.
Non-residents pay $17 for 3 days, $30 for 7 days or $47 for a full year for either fresh or saltwater unless they are covered by a charter or a pier.
Where can I get a license?
The state’s fishing-license-by-phone service is a beautiful thing, and it has come in handy more than once for me.
You are out on your boat, riding out to your fishing hole, only to discover your license had expired. I called from my cell phone, charged my renewal, and they issued my new license number on the spot. One time I was caught without a pen, so I carved the number into my fish-measuring stick. 🙂
The number is 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA.
Now, there is even an app for that! Download the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission app “Fish | Hunt Florida” from Apple App Store or Google Play, and you’re in business. You purchase the license, download it on the spot, and your license will always be with you on your phone.
If you’ve previously purchased your license, you can download your license to the app.
You can also obtain a license online at the Florida Fish and Wildlife web site.
The old-fashioned way still works, too! You can still purchase your license at a tackle shops, sporting good stores or from your county tax collector.
For more information about saltwater fishing in Florida and licensing requirements, go to the FWC’s web site at myfwc.com