Florida is a great place for saltwater and freshwater fishing. In some instances you need a fishing license to enjoy this outdoor activity, but in others you do not. A variety of licenses are available. State residents who are age 65 years and over and residents and non-residents who are under 16 years of age do not need a license to fish.
Freshwater Fishing Licenses: A freshwater license is needed in order to fish on public waters.
- Resident License: Annual and five-year licenses can be purchased
- Non-Resident License: Annual, three-day and seven-day options are available
- Combination License: You have the option to buy a single combined license for freshwater and saltwater fishing when purchasing your standard recreational license at a reduced cost.
- Sportsman’s Licenses: that is valid for hunting, archery, muzzleloading gun use and more. For those interested in other wildlife hunting, muzzleloaders, and archery you can purchase one license that covers all
- Youth License: While not required, young fishers from the ages of 8 to 15 can get a recreational fishing license.
- Lifetime License: they remain valid even if you move out of Florida.
Saltwater Fishing Licenses: Saltwater fish, crabs, clams and other edible organisms can be harvested from the ocean with a current license.
- Resident License: Residents can choose a one-year or five-year option
- Non-resident License: There are a variety of non-resident licenses; annual, three-day and seven-day licenses available for non residents.
- Shoreline Only: If you plan to fish from shore only, you need a shoreline license which is free of charge.
- Combination License: This license is for anyone who wishes to have a saltwater licenses combined with hunting or fishing.
- Sportsman’s License: This license includes most fishing, hunting and archery related activities.
- Youth License: This type of license is optional, but it can be purchased by those ages 8 to 15.
If you are a youth who has an optional fishing license, it is valid until you are 17 years of age. However, residents and nonresidents—unless they are in one of the exempted categories to be discussed later—need a fishing license when they reach 16 years of age. The Florida Fishing license is issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Residents get it by submitting a Florida driver’s license. Another way to satisfy the hometown requirement is to present a student ID card and proof of a parent’s residency in the state.
Adults and Proofs of Residency
Other documents that will get you a resident’s Florida fishing license are an identification card that has both a Florida address and a Florida residency as verified by the Department of Highway Safety. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who produce a document verifying that they are stationed in Florida can get a resident’s license too. With it their spouse and children can fish in the state.
If you are a Floridian who does not have a state driver’s license, you may substitute one of the following to prove that you are a resident:
• Florida Homestead Exemption
• Florida voter registration card
• Declaration of Domicile from your local county clerk's office
Visitors Can Fish Without a License
No saltwater Florida fishing license is required if you are a non-resident who:
• Fishes on a Free Fishing Day
• Is under 16 years of age
• Gets aboard a for-hire boat whose operator has a fishing license
• Fishes from a vessel whose operator has a fishing license
• Holds a saltwater products license or a FWC charter captain license
• Fishes for leisure from a pier and holds a pier fishing license
Duration of Licenses
Florida residents may choose a lifetime license. Even if they move out of the state, this license is valid as long they live. It is available for the following age groups:
• Four years and younger
• Five to 12 years of age
• Thirteen years and older
Angler Education Is Advisable
For your own safety and to become a better angler, sign up for a course offered by a bait and tackle shop or a sporting goods retailer. You can learn about fishing, boating safety and regulations. In addition to taking courses, a simple online search yields valuable information about fishing in the state.
The FFWCC has classes too, among them is one to help you identify Florida fish. The organization also sponsors a free Kids’ Fishing Clinics at locations throughout the state for children as young as 5 years of age.
Arrival and Accommodations
Mosquito Lagoon, Everglades National Park, The Forgotten Coast, The Florida Keys and Lake Okeechobee offer some of the best fishing in Florida. All of these areas have places where you can pay to stay for the night. Ways of getting to your fishing location include by charter boat or seaplane. Among the more economical choices are renting a car or getting a flight that is near your intended fishing spot. If you are unfamiliar with fishing in the area, hire a licensed fishing guide who knows just where to take you to maximize your chances of catching fish. This knowledgeable person can also advise you about what bait and tackle to use.
Organizations To Join
If you want to stay on top of fishing news in the state, consider joining the International Game Fish Association or the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida or another similar group. The IGFA is a nonprofit organization and the CCA of Florida is a sportfishing advocacy organization