New York Fishing License

New York

New York has over 7,500 lakes and ponds, and some 70,000 miles of streams and rivers where freshwater fishing can be enjoyed. Lake Erie offers excellent smallmouth bass fishing whereas the crystal clear water of the Adirondack Lake teems with brook trout. Lake Ontario is home to Pacific salmon whereas one can always catch some stripers on the Hudson River and panfish on Central Park and Prospect Park lakes. For saltwater fishing, the shores of Long Island are best.

Fishing license are bought online from the NY Department of Environmental Conservation's website. There are different types of fishing licenses based on residency, age, profession and other considerations. There are exemptions too so it is best to get information on the types of licenses before purchasing one.

Fishing laws and regulations are keenly observed not only in New York but across the nation. There are special stipulations on each fish species and particular body of water. These rules may be tweaked from time to time in order to meet the changing needs of a fish species or its habitat.

The conservation and protection of fish populations and various waterways of New York is a prime consideration. If rules and regulations are not followed, the fish populations could be depleted in no time at all. In some instances, stocking waterways is the answer to make sure that the population of a specific body of water is not compromised.


With towering skyscrapers, busy streets, and colorful art scene, New York, for most people, is amazing. For anglers and fishers around the country, it’s beyond that - it’s magical! From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic via the Hudson, the “Empire State” is a well-known fishing destination. 

However, as more and more anglers flock the city to experience the different fishing opportunities across the state, New York started requiring anglers different permits and licenses before they are allowed to fish in its state waters. This guide will dive deeper (no pun intended) into these licenses and will answer all the questions you have regarding New York’s fishing license requirements. 

Let’s start with the basics: 

What permits or licenses do you need to fish in New York State? 

Before anyone can fish in any saltwater and freshwater areas in the state of New York, they have to own at least one of the following licenses or permits:

New York State Fishing License - Required of all anglers who will fish or take fish from any freshwater locations in the state of New York. There are four types of these licenses, and they are used to take freshwater fish by angling, spearing, hooking, longbow, nets, traps, and tip-ups; take frogs by spearing, catching with the hands or by use of a club or hook; and take baitfish for personal use, all as permitted by law. These privileges include: 

    • The holder of a license, tag, or stamp shall have such license, tag, stamp, or other valid proof (see below) on his/her person while exercising any privilege of that license.
    • The holder of a license, tag, or stamp shall exhibit it on-demand to any police officer, peace officer, or the owner, lessee, or another person in control of the lands or waters on which the license holder is present.
    • No license or stamp authorizes the holder to trespass upon private lands or waters or interferes with property belonging to another person.
    • A freshwater fishing license does not allow for the taking of migratory marine fish.

Recreational Marine Fishing Registration  - Required for all anglers who will fish or take fish from any marine fishing areas in the state of New York. The registration is free for all anglers over the age of 16. Those who fish in the marine and coastal district of New York or for migratory marine species; such as striped bass, hickory shad, and river herring from all waters of the state including the Hudson River and Delaware River; must enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry wherever licenses are sold. 

National Marine Fishing Service Permit -  Required for all boat owners wanting to catch Tuna and Sharks.

Who is required to purchase a New York State Fishing License? 

As a general rule, everyone 16 years or older must have a valid freshwater fishing license to fish in New York State. This includes: 

  • Anglers fishing on private waters not open to the general public
  • Anglers that do not keep the fish that they catch
  • Assisting an angler (including a child under the age of 16) in the act of fishing
  • Anglers that fish occasionally (shorter-term licenses are available at a lower cost)

However, some exemptions also apply. Those who qualify in the following criteria are NOT required to procure a fishing license in the state of New York: 

  • Persons under 16 years of age.
  • NYS-resident owners, lessees, and members of their immediate families occupying and cultivating farmlands, when fishing on their own lands.
  • Persons holding farm fish pond licenses and members of their immediate families, when fishing on waters covered by their licenses.
  • Resident patients at Dept. of Mental Health institutions and Dept. of Health rehabilitation hospitals, and inmates at Division of Youth rehabilitation centers. License exemptions must be requested for such persons through the hospital/institution by writing NYSDEC License Sales Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4790, or by e-mailing FW.Information@dec.ny.gov.
  • When fishing on licensed fishing preserves.
  • Persons under 16 years of age.
  • NYS-resident owners, lessees, and members of their immediate families occupying and cultivating farmlands, when fishing on their own lands.
  • Persons holding farm fish pond licenses and members of their immediate families, when fishing on waters covered by their licenses.
  • Resident patients at Dept. of Mental Health institutions and Dept. of Health rehabilitation hospitals, and inmates at Division of Youth rehabilitation centers. License exemptions must be requested for such persons through the hospital/institution by writing NYSDEC License Sales Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4790, or by e-mailing FW.Information@dec.ny.gov.
  • When fishing on licensed fishing preserves.

Where to purchase a New York State Fishing License? 

New York State offers various methods for you to purchase the right fishing license. You can choose among the following for whichever is more convenient for you: 

  • Online
  • By Phone: 1-866-933-2257
  • From any registered vendor, including Walmart and tackle stores

Different Types of Fishing Licenses in New York State

As already mentioned above, you need a NY State fishing license if you want to fish in any freshwater spots within New York’s jurisdiction. Conversely, you only need a Recreational Marine Fishing Registration to fish in marine waters. However, among the different freshwater fishing licenses, there are also different kinds. Please see the matrix below for all the available fishing licenses in the state of New York.

Resident Annual

Fishing (16–69) 

$ 25

Fishing (70+) 

$ 5

7-day (16+)

$ 12

1-day (16+)

$ 5

Fishing (military/disabled)

$ 5

Marine Registry 

$ 0

Non-Resident Annual

Fishing (16+) 

$ 50

7-day (16+)

$ 28

1-day (16+)

$ 10

Marine Registry 

$ 0

Residents have the option to purchase either an annual fishing license or a term fishing license good for seven days or one day. The annual freshwater fishing license for residents costs $25.00 for anglers aged 16-69 and $5.00 for senior residents, military, and persons with disabilities. The one-day license can be bought by residents for $5.00, while the 7-day license costs $12. 

Meanwhile, non-residents can purchase an annual license for $50.00, a 7-day license for $28.00, and a one-day license for only $10.00. Both residents and non-residents can get marine registration for free. 

Lifetime Licenses

For resident anglers who want to avail a lifetime right to fish in the waters of New York, a lifetime license can also be procured. Depending on your age when the license is purchased, the cost varies. Here’s a summary: 

Lifetime Fishing (available to NYS residents only)

Lifetime Fishing (0–69)

$ 460

Lifetime Fishing (70+)

$ 65

Lifetime License (available to NYS residents only and includes Hunting, Fishing and Turkey Permits)

Lifetime License (0–4)

$ 380

Lifetime License (5–11)

$ 535

Lifetime License (12–69)

$ 765

Lifetime License (70+)

$ 65

Who are considered as residents of New York State? 

To qualify for a resident license, one must reside in New York State for more than 30 days immediately preceding the date of application for a license. Property ownership in New York State does not necessarily constitute residency. Proof of residency is the address listed on a person’s registration to vote in elections for any public office other than the school board. If the applicant is under 18, the residence of parents or legal guardian shall be deemed such a person’s residence. Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in the state, and full-time college students in residence in the state during the school year (proof required) also qualify for resident licenses at regular prices.

Free Licenses

There are some individuals who qualify to get free licenses from the state of New New York. If you are one of the following, you are eligible for a free fishing license and may obtain a license at any license issuing outlet:

  • New York State residents who are legally blind and provide a doctor’s note to the License Issuing Agent.
  • New York State residents who are active service members of the NYS Organized Militia (i.e., National Guard), or U.S. Reserve Forces.
  • New York State residents stationed outside of New York who are on full-time active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and is on leave in N.Y. for no longer than 30 days.
  • Resident patients at the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs hospitals or state-funded facilities can obtain a free fishing license through their hospital or facility.
  • Native Americans who are members of the Shinnecock and Poospatuck tribes or the Six Nations residing on reservations in New York State may obtain a free fishing license by contacting their reservation or DEC’s License Sales Office at (518) 402-8843.

Fishing Regulations, Season, and Limits

In order to protect the biodiversity of its waters and to maintain a healthy fish population, please follow the following seasons and fishing limits in the state of New York: 

Species

Open Season

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Trout—Brook, Brown and Rainbow and hybrids of these species; and Splake

April 1 through Oct 15

Any size

5

Lake Trout

April 1 through Oct 15

21″

3

Landlocked (LL)/

Atlantic Salmon

April 1 through Oct 15

15″

3

It is illegal to take Atlantic Salmon from the waters of the marine and coastal district.

Kokanee

April 1 through Oct 15

Any size

10

Coho & Chinook Salmon

See Great Lakes Regulations on Great Lakes & Tributary Regulations.

Black Bass

(Largemouth/Smallmouth)

3rd Sat in June through Nov 30

12″

5

Dec 1 through Fri preceding the

3rd Sat in June

Catch and

release only

Artificial lures only

Muskellunge

Last Sat in May through Nov 30

40″

1

Northern Pike

1st Sat in May through March 15

18″

5

Pickerel

1st Sat in May through March 15

15″

5

Tiger Muskellunge

1st Sat in May through March 15

30″

1

Walleye

1st Sat in May through March 15

15″

5

Crappie

All year

9″

25

Yellow Perch

All year

Any size

50

Sunfish (Bluegill, Pumpkinseed and Redbreast Sunfish)

All year

Any size

50

Lake Whitefish

All year

Any size

5

Atlantic, Shortnose, Lake Sturgeon; Paddlefish, Sauger

Closed

Fishing for (including catch and release) or possession prohibited

Striped Bass—Hudson River and all inland waters except Delaware River 

April 1 through Nov 30

1 fish between 18 and 28 inches total length OR 1 fish larger than 40 inches.

1

American Shad—All inland waters except Hudson, Chemung, Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers.

All year

Any size

3

Possession prohibited in Marine District.

Hickory Shad

Aug 1 through Nov 30

Any size

5

Anadromous River (Ocean-run) Herring (Alewife and Blueback Herring)

Possession prohibited except in Hudson River and tributaries.

American Eel—all waters except Hudson River, St. Lawrence R., L. Niagara R., Lake Ontario and tributaries to these waters.

All year

9″

25

All endangered or threatened fish species. See General Regulations for complete list of species.

Fishing for (including catch and release) or possession prohibited

All other species (except those listed elsewhere in special regulation tables in this guide).

All year

Any size

Any number

A person may not fish for a species (not even Catch-and-Release) outside of the open season for that species on given water.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Q: What to do if I lost/damaged my fishing license? 

A lost license may be replaced for $5.00 at any license issuing outlet.

Q: When is the scheduled Free Fishing Day in New York?

This year, a Free Fishing Day is scheduled for February 15–16, 2020. 

Q: When will my annual license expire? 

Annual licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.