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Pick a lake or river and take your family fishing in Nebraska. Cunningham Lake State Park in Omaha is one of the top places for families to fish for bass and bluegill while Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Waterloo offers opportunities to catch smallmouth bass and crappie. Find the best places to fish in NE after buying your fishing license and reading the fishing regulations.

One can buy a NE fishing license from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's website on a 24/7 basis. This is most convenient for busy bodies pressed for time in procuring theirs from a legitimate vendor. For avid anglers who go fishing year in, year out, it is best to buy a lifetime license to save on money and effort. There are different types of fishing license and associated fees so it is best to read up on them first before buying.

The fishing laws and regulations of the state were formulated, acted on and implemented by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to moderate the recreational fish and game activities in the state. These laws cover specifics regarding fishing seasons, bag, length and size limits, and the type of gear or tackle permitted pertaining to a specific waterway and fish species. These regulations may be changed if a need arises.

There seems to be a rise in the number of recreational anglers that it has become more important to monitor the status of waterways and their fish populations. The preservation and conservation of the fish populations and their natural habitat is under the state fisheries managers and biologists. Under their supervision and management, the waterways of Nebraska and their fish population are healthy and thriving. Each angler is expected to do his part in the conservation and preservations process.


Whether you are planning to catch rainbow trout, yellow perch, and catfish in Lake Ogallala or you want to snatch some bass, wipers, and largemouth bass at the Harlan County Reservoir, you’re up for a tasty treat when you decide to go to Nebraska for a weekend fishing trip. Not only that, they have hundreds of different fishing locations, they are also home to trophy-quality fishes that every angler dreamt of. 

One important thing to remember before heading down to Nebraska to fish is that you need first to secure a valid fishing license sold by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, which is the state agency that implements programs to help protect and preserve Nebraska fish and game resources. 

There are different fishing licenses that you can choose from, and this guide will walk you through each of them as well as the entire procurement and requirement process.

Here’s everything you need to know about the fishing requirements in the state of Nebraska: 

What kind of license or permit is needed to fish in the state of Nebraska? 

There are different fishing permits that you can choose from should you want to fish in the state waters of Nebraska. The basic types of licenses are the following: 

Fishing Permit - this permit allows holders to fish or take fish in the state waters of Nebraska.

Paddlefish Permit - this permit allows holders to take paddlefishes in the state waters of Nebraska. A paddlefish permit is a supplementary permit, which means that you need a valid fishing permit first before you can buy a paddlefish permit. 

Who needs to purchase a fishing permit in the state of Nebraska? 

A Nebraska permit is required of residents and non-residents age 16 and over. Non-residents under age 16 need not have a fishing permit if they are accompanied by someone who has a Nebraska fishing permit. A fishing permit is required to take or attempt to take, fish, bullfrogs, snapping turtles, barred salamanders, or mussels by any legal method. An angler must carry the fishing permit while actively fishing. The permit requirement also varies depending on the residency status of the applicant. 

Resident Permits

In order to purchase a valid Nebraska Resident Fishing Permit, one must qualify in the following requirements: 

  • Reside in Nebraska continuously for at least 30 days before making an application for a permit and intend to become a Nebraska resident.
  • Residents in school in another state or stationed outside Nebraska as part of a military assignment that has maintained Nebraska as their state of legal residency.
  • Active-duty military personnel and full-time students stationed or attending school in Nebraska for a period of at least 30 days.
  •  A new resident should be prepared to provide documentation of residency (driver’s license, voter registration, etc.) to an officer when in possession of a permit.

Non-resident Permits

A non-resident fishing permit is required of all people who are not Nebraska residents, except:

  • those listed above 
  • those under 16 years of age who are accompanied by someone with a Nebraska fishing permit.

Who is exempted from possessing a Nebraska Fishing Permit? 

Owners or their guests fishing on a private water body are not required to have a fishing permit if all of the following apply to that water: 

  • is located entirely on private land
  • is entirely privately stocked
  • does not connect by inflow or outflow with any other water outside such land
  •  is not operated on a commercial basis for profit

Please note that any licensed commercial put-and-take operation is exempt from a fishing permit.

Where to buy a fishing permit in the state of Nebraska?

Buying a fishing permit in Nebraska is as easy as ordering food on your mobile phones. There are several convenient and easy ways that you can purchase a fishing license. You can choose from the following: 

Online. The most convenient way to purchase a fishing license in the state of Nebraska is by buying it through the official state website. They accept almost all major credit and debit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. You can also keep a digital copy of the license in lieu of the paper permit. 

Walk-in. Aside from purchasing your license online, you can also purchase a license in person from different sporting goods stores and from the commission in person at 2200 N. 33rd St. in Lincoln.

How much does a Nebraska Fishing Permit Cost?

The cost of a Nebraska Fishing Permit varies on the type of license you want to purchase. Factors like your age, your residency, and the length of the validity of the license are also determinants of the price of the fishing permit. Here’s a summary of the cost of the different fishing permits in Nebraska: 

RESIDENT FISH

Fish, annual

$38

Fish, 5-year

$132

Fish/Hunt, annual

$52

Fish/Hunt, 3-year

$191

Fish, 1-day

$10

Fish/Hunt, 5-year

$285

Fish, 3-day

$31

Fish, lifetime (age 0-15)

$616

Paddlefish

$33

Fish, lifetime (age 16-45)

$710

Deployed military, annual

$5

Fish, lifetime (age 46-over)

$616

Veteran Fish/Hunt, annual

$5

Fish/Hunt, lifetime (age 0-15)

$859

Senior Fish/Hunt, annua

$5

Fish/Hunt, lifetime (age 16-45)

$1,008

Special disabled, annual

$5

Fish/Hunt, lifetime (age 46-over)

$859

Fish, 3-year

$90.50

  

NON-RESIDENT FISH

Fish, annual

$76

Fish/Hunt, 3-year

$480

Fish/Hunt, annual

$159

Fish/Hunt, 5-year

$710

Fish, 1-day

$13

Fish, lifetime (age 0-16)

$929

Fish, 3-day

$37

Fish, lifetime (age 17-over)

$1,306

Paddlefish

$57

Fish/Hunt, lifetime (age 0-16)

$1,600

Fish, 3-year

$192.50

Fish/Hunt, lifetime (age 17-over)

$2,391

Fish, 5-year

$286

  

Please note that all 3-year and 5-year permits already include an Aquatic Habitat Stamp or Aquatic Habitat Stamp and Habitat Stamp that are valid throughout the validity of the license. 

Who qualifies to purchase special permits? 

There are several special permits that are only available to eligible anglers. Special permits usually come with special discounts or even free of charge. Please see below to know if you are qualified for any of the available special permits.

Fee-Exempt Permits 

These are available to resident veterans who:

  • are 50 percent disabled as a result of armed forces service
  • receive a pension from the Veterans Administration as a result of a total and permanent disability not incurred in the line of duty while in military service
  • obtained fee-exempt permits before Jan. 1, 2006

Veteran and Senior Permits 

An annual fish/hunt permit is available for resident veterans age 64 and older

and residents aged 69 and older.

Special Fishing Permit

This annual permit is for physically or developmentally disabled residents who

cannot cast or retrieve unassisted. This permit also follows the following regulations: 

  • This entitles the disabled person and one person assisting him or her in taking, fish, catch, harvest, or possess any aquatic organism in compliance with state regulations.
  • If the person assisting does not have a valid fishing permit, they are restricted to one daily bag limit between the two anglers.
  • A disabled person is a person certified by a physician to have a permanent physical impairment or developmental disability that results in the inability to use fishing equipment unassisted.
  • Applications are available from Game and Parks district offices and service centers, as well as the Omaha office and Schramm Education Center (formerly Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium).

Educational Fishing Project Permit

This may be obtained by instructors at any university, college, or high school from the Fisheries Division for his/her students, 16 years of age and older who are participating in an educational fishing project.

Daily Limits, Seasons, and other Regulations

The state of Nebraska implements strict regulations, fishing seasons, and daily and possession limits to make sure that the fishing activities within its jurisdiction remain sustainable, and the fish population is maintained at a healthy level. Please observe the following regulations when fishing in Nebraska: 

CATCH-AND-RELEASE ONLY

Species

Water Body

Striped bass, white bass and wiper

• Branched Oak Lake

Northern pike

• Lake Wanahoo

Channel and blue catfish

• Fort Kearny 

• Two Rivers

• Wildwood Lake

• Windmill 

Flathead catfish

•Branched Oak Lake

All species

• West Brady

• East Hershey

• Kea West

• Jenny Newman Pond

 

STATEWIDE BAG AND POSSESSION LIMITS

Species

Note

Bag

Possession

Rainbow, tiger and cutthroat trout

No more than one fish longer than 16 inches on all waters except the Sutherland Canal

5

12

Brown trout

No more than one fish longer than 16 inches in all waters

5

10

Brook trout

No more than one fish longer than 12 inches

2

4

Striped bass, white bass, wiper

No more than one fish longer than 16 inches on inland waters

15

30

Walleye, sauger, saugeye

In combination; only one fish 22 inches or longer allowed in daily bag; inland waters only

4

8

Muskellunge, tiger muskie

 

1

2

Baitfish, barred salamander, leopard frog

In combination

100

100

Shovelnose sturgeon

No harvest allowed on the Missouri River upstream from mouth of the Big Sioux River

10

20

Pallid sturgeon, lake sturgeon, bowfin, American eel

No harvest allowed

Northern pike

 

3

10

Blue catfish

 

1

2

Channel catfish

Standing water (reservoirs, lakes, ponds and pits)

5

20

Flowing water (rivers, streams and canals and listed reservoirs)

10

20

Flathead catfish

No more than one fish longer than 30 inches allowed in daily bag limit on all waters

5

10

Mussel and clam

No harvest on rivers and streams, statewide

10

20

Game fish and nongame fish species not listed

No Limit

Bullfrog

 

8

16

Snapping turtle

 

5

10

Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass

In combination; only one 21 inches or longer allowed in daily bag

5

10

Paddlefish

Special permit required

2

2

Please download the Nebraska Fishing Guide for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to pay an Issue Fee when procuring a fishing permit?

Yes. A $3 issue fee is included on all fishing, fish/hunt, and paddlefish permits listed above EXCEPT veteran fish/hunt, senior fish/hunt, disabled, and deployed military permits.

Q: What is a Salvage Permit? 

 The permit allows for the salvage of fish from selected irrigation canals located in the Platte River, Republican River, and Loup River drainages. Applications must be submitted to Game and Parks’ North Platte district office or the Kearney service center.