Schools of large and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, crappie and bluegill populate the waters of Arizona lakes and waterways. Cottonwood Cove is popular for its abundance of bass. Anglers make a beeline towards the different fishing areas in order to reel in the best catch.

Securing a license does not require much work since the application process can be done online through the Arizona Game and Fish Department website. You may also purchase one yourself at authorized distributors and representatives such as tackle shop or your local athletic shop.

Before your trip, make sure that you read through the updated local laws on fishing in Arizona since these change, depending on the season and availability of the fish in the area. These protocols also exist to sustain and safeguard the marine life in the region. That way, everyone gets to have the time of their lives without disrupting the local ecosystem and wildlife.

Just like most areas where fishing is a popular sport or hobby, Arizona also follows the catch and release policy where anglers toss their catch of the day back into the vast waters. This is to avoid overfishing and to ensure the proliferation of fish in the area.


Arizona is one of the prime spots for water recreations. The State has been very proud of its waters, hosting some of the most sought after fishes to catch. However, as more and more people go to Arizona to catch fish, there is a need for the state to regulate who can and cannot fish in their waters. 

The agency tasked at setting up the rules and regulations regarding sports fishing in Arizona is the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It is a state agency that draw rules, implement rules, and provide licenses to those who want to experience the fun and excitement of fishing in the waters of AZ. Regulations are set in place to make sure that the fishing industry will not exploit their natural resources and to guarantee that the next generations will still be able to enjoy the richness of their waters. 

Sustainability is essential in the conduct of fishing. Thus, the Arizona Game and Fish Department requires anglers to procure a license before they are allowed to fish in their waters. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in Arizona, as well as other rules and regulations that you need to follow to protect and maintain sustainability. 

Who are the fishing license requirements in Arizona?

Much like any other State, Arizona requires a fishing license from anglers, whether they are a resident or not.

Arizona is one of the States that has the youngest age requirements. Residents or non-residents anglers are required to purchase a license if they are ten-years-old and above and are fishing in any publicly accessible waters in Arizona. Those who are under the age of ten and are blind residents of Arizona are exempted from purchasing the fishing license. 

What is the residency requirement for an Arizona license?

As a rule of thumb, an Arizona resident is classified as those who are domiciled (claims the state of Arizona as their true, fixed and permanent home and principal residence) in this State for six months immediately preceding the date of application for a license, permit, tag, or stamp and do not claim residency for any purpose in another state or jurisdiction. 

Special considerations are also made for members of the armed forces of the United States. If you are a member of the army and is on active duty and stationed in this state for either permanent or temporary duty, then you are considered a resident of Arizona. Members of the armed forces of the United States on active duty stationed in another state or country and listed the State as their home of record at the time of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp are considered a resident status. They can be allowed to purchase a resident permit, which is usually less expensive than non-resident licenses. 

Different Types of Licenses in Arizona and how much they cost

There are five basic licenses that you can purchase from the state of Arizona, namely: General Fishing License, Combo Hunt & Fish License, Youth Combo Hunt & Fish License, Short-Term Combo Hunt  & Fish License. A general license is required for all anglers, both resident and non-resident. The cost is $37 for residents and $55 for non-residents.

If you are also planning to do some hunting and fishing at the same time, then a combo hunt and fish license that costs $57 for residents and $160 for non-residents is the best option. Moreover, if you want to pay for your license daily and if your fishing trip is short-term, then you should go for a short-term combo hunt & fish license that costs $15 per day for residents and $20 per day for non-residents. It is also worthy to note that most licenses, except those for short-term fishing and hunting, are valid for 365 days (a year) following the purchase of the license. Below is the summary of the basic licenses you can procure and the price you can get them for: 




General Fishing



General Hunting


Not Available

Combo Hunt & Fish



Youth Combo Hunt & Fish



Short-Term Combo Hunt & Fish



Community Fishing



Migratory Bird Stamp




Special and Complimentary Licenses in Arizona

Pioneer License

A special pioneer license is given to any person who is more than 70 years in age and has lived as a bonafide Arizona resident immediately preceding the application. Once you have met the criteria, a pioneer license is granted for free. 

Disabled Veteran License

Another special license is given to those who can show a certification from the Veteran’s Administration confirming permanent service-connected disabilities rated as 100 percent disabling. The Disabled Veteran License also has a minimum residency requirement of one year immediately preceding the date of application. 

Apprentice Hunting License

The Apprentice Hunting License is given for free to existing hunters and fishers who will serve as mentors and who will introduce a friend, neighbor, relative, or co-worker to the traditions and importance of hunting. It free for residents and non-residents and is valid for any two consecutive days for the legal take of small game, fur-bearing, predatory and nongame mammals, nongame birds, and upland game birds in season. The applicant must be at least 18 years old and has a valid hunting and fishing license to avail at most two AHL every year. 

Boy Scout and Girl Scout High Achievement License

Scouts who have reached the highest level in their organization, and up to and through the calendar year of their 20th birthday, are given a special discount if they purchase a combination hunting and fishing license. If proper documents are presented, they will be eligible to purchase a license for only $5. 

Where to purchase Arizona Fishing License?

There different ways of purchasing a fishing license in the State of Arizona. The easiest way to acquire a license is by logging in to the website of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (https://www.azgfd.com/License/) and buying one from their online store. You can also go physically to their office, a designated fishing license dealer like an outdoor sporting goods store or tackle shop to buy a fishing license in person. You can follow this link to see the list of all authorized license dealers from Arizona: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/azgfd-portal-wordpress-pantheon/wp-content/uploads/archive/Dealer-Master12-27-17.pdf

How to replace lost licenses?

In the unfortunate event that your license has been lost or stolen, you can have it replaced for a fee at any Arizona Game and Fish Department license dealer. An affidavit is required to attest that the applicant purchased an original license before they are granted a duplicate license. It is worthy to note that those who purchased their license through department offices may have their license reprinted only at any time for no additional cost. 

Daily Bag and Possession Limit in Arizona

The daily bag limit is the maximum number of fish that may be legally caught and reduced to possession in one day. This means that every fish you catch and not release back to the water is counted against your daily bag limit. The daily bag limit also includes those that you have picked and given to another person. The limit is refreshed every midnight. 

With that follows that the daily possession limit is twice the daily bag limit unless otherwise noted. Each species and fishing area has a specific bag limit and you can read the full regulation by following this link: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/azgfd-portal-wordpress-pantheon/wp-content/uploads/archive/2019and2020-AZGFD-Fishing-Regs.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What qualifies as a resident? 

An Arizona resident is classified as those who are domiciled (claims the state of Arizona as their true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence) in this state for at least six months. Furthermore, a member of the army and is on active duty and stationed in this state for either permanent or temporary duty, are also considered a resident of Arizona. 

Q:  What are the top fishing sites in Arizona?

Arizona is blessed with bountiful waters. Some of the most popular fishing sites in the State include Lake Havasu. Known as the "West Coast of Arizona," the lake is a great destination for wintertime fishing. Another popular region is the Dead Horse Lake that welcomes anglers with three lagoons of great trout and largemouth bass fishing in Cottonwood. And of course, the Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the most scenic water recreation parks in Arizona. It is home to at least 12 sites of fish. 

Q: What are the most common catches in Arizona? 

Arizona is home to a spectacular marine and freshwater biodiversity. The most common catches include the Apache Trout, Rainbow Trout, Flathead Catfish, and Largemouth Bass.