Obtaining a Florida fishing license is as quick and easy as picking up the phone, but the rules on who needs one are full of exceptions and “but ifs.”
We’ll try to simplify the rules so you can get out there and go fishing.
Who does not need a Florida fishing license?
Florida residents under 16 or 65+
If you are child under 16 or a resident 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 if preferred, you can obtain a hard license at no cost.
Anybody, including out-of-state visitors, on a charter fishing boat and most public piers
Charter captains will have a boat license that covers all anglers on board, resident or non-resident. Most pier operators also carry a blanket license to cover fishing from the pier. However, licenses are required on piers where an operator or manager is not physically present to control access to the pier.
Residents fishing from shore in their home county with a cane pole or line without a retrieval mechanism
Any resident fishing for recreational purposes only, within her or his county of residence with live or natural bait, using a cane pole or a plain fishing line not equipped with a retrieval mechanism, such as a Cuban Yoyo, more commonly known as a Cuba rig. The exemption applies to both salt and freshwater.
For example, if you are fishing from shore with a “Cuba rig” using live bait, such as a worm or a minnow, you do not need a license.
Do you need a Florida fishing license in saltwater from shore? Maybe.
Florida residents fish free from shore but still need a license
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 if you are between the ages of 16 and 65. The shore license includes piers, bridges and jetties.
But the shore license does not cover anyone fishing from a boat or from an island where they arrived by boat.
Children under 16 and seniors 65 and over do not need a license of any kind for fishing, but they must have proof of age.
Non-residents must always have a license to fish from shore
Non-residents are not eligible for the shore license and must buy a full saltwater license to fish from shore, a jetty, bridge or a pier that does not have a commercial license.
Do you need a Florida fishing license in saltwater from an island? Yes but…
If you are a resident and walked to the island and expect to walk out with your fish, you need a shore license but it’s free. If you arrive at the island by boat or plan to leave by boat, or if you are a non-resident, then you need to buy a saltwater fishing license.
What does a saltwater fishing license cover?
A saltwater fishing license is required to take — or attempt to take — any saltwater fish, crabs, clams, scallops, marine plants or other saltwater organisms (other than non-living seashells and lionfish with certain gear).
If you have a fishing pole in your possession near water, you are required to have a license, whether or not you are catching fish.
A Florida fishing license is required to land any saltwater species in Florida regardless of where they are caught. It doesn’t matter if you are fishing in state or federal waters, you still must have a Florida license.
How much does a saltwater fishing license cost?
- Resident Annual: $17
- Resident Five-Year: $79.00
- Non-Resident 3-Day: $17.00
- Non-Resident 7-Day: $30.00
- Non-Resident Annual: $47.00
Do you need a Florida fishing license in fresh water from shore or boat?
Residents and non-residents are required to carry a valid Florida fishing license to fish in freshwater, whether you are fishing from the shore, from a boat, from a dock, jetty or from a pier.
Exceptions are for anglers under 16, resident or non-resident, and Florida residents 65 and over.
Another exception is for residents fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that are not equipped with a “fishing-line-retrieval mechanism” (a reel), and you are fishing for noncommercial purposes in your home county.
An uncommon exception is for residents fishing from their home property, or in a private pond entirely surrounded by the property of a single owner.
Residents fishing license (all ages)
- Resident annual (all ages) — $17
- Resident five-year (all ages) — $79
Florida resident seniors 64 and over may obtain a Silver Sportsman license, which provides a free hard copy license for freshwater fishing as well as a hunting licenses and permits for Wildlife Management Areas. This license does not include saltwater license.
- Annual Resident Silver Sportsman’s 64+: $13.50
- Five-Year Resident Silver Sportsman’s 64+: $61.50
Non-resident fishing license (all ages)
- Non-resident, 3-Day: $17
- Non-resident, 7-Day: $30
- Non-resident, Annual: $47
License-Free Fishing Days in Florida
Every year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission sets aside eight (8) days to encourage Florida residents to get out and fish without a license.
- June 5 and 6, 2021. (First consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June.)
- Sept. 4, 2021. (First Saturday in September.)
- Nov. 27, 2021. (Saturday following Thanksgiving.)
- April 3 and 4, 2021. (First consecutive Saturday and Sunday in April.)
- June 12 and 13, 2021. (Second consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June.)
Freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses can be purchased online (gooutdoorsflorida.com) or from your county tax collector’s office or at most bait and tackle shops throughout the state of Florida.
You can also purchase a license by phone at 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356). Have a pen ready to write down your license number. Your license will be sent via snail mail, but you can fish right away.
Proceeds from fishing licenses go toward wildlife conservation efforts.
A note from the editor:
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.