North Dakota Fishing License

North Dakota

The many lakes, rivers, streams, dams and ponds of North Dakota are home to fish families of pike, perch, sunfish, catfish, bass, trout, sturgeon and paddlefish. Alkaline Lake in Kidder County is teeming with walleyes. Baukol-Noonan Dam has plenty of trout and largemouth bass. But before you can fish legally in North Dakota, you need a fishing license.

It is easy enough to secure a fishing license though the website of North Dakota Game and Fish Department. You can also get a license by phone on a 24/7 basis. You can immediately print your license once you have paid the required fees. There are different types of fishing license, depending on whether you are a resident of ND or not. There are exemptions on the procurement of fishing licenses.

Fishing laws and regulations are created and strictly implemented for the improvement, protection and conservation of the fish population. These regulations indicate the fishing seasons, size limits, daily bag limits, and even the types of fishing tackle allowed. Regulations and rules may be modified according to present conditions and needs of a particular waterways or species so it is best to be current on these.

The protection and conservation of the waterways and fish populations in ND is prime objective of the department of fisheries and deemed a responsibility of everyone and not only anglers. The responsibility of keeping the waterways free from population is everyone's concern whereas anglers are more expected to follow the rules regarding fishing. The proper catch and release of fish ensures its survival when released back to the waters. The use of proper tools is necessary to minimize trauma on the fish.


Get your valid North Dakota fishing license and enjoy a family fishing trip to a place like Heart Butte State Game Management Area and Reservoir in Elgin to catch smallmouth bass or crappie. These licenses are required from both residents and non-residences, exempt those that have special fishing privileges. Owning a license will give you access to the magnificent waterscape of North Dakota, all the fishing opportunities that come with them. 

Don’t know how to procure a North Dakota fishing license? There’s nothing to worry about because we have put together a quick and straightforward guide that will help you understand everything you need to know before you fish in the state waters of North Dakota.

Here’s a rundown of all questions you might have regarding the fishing license requirements in the state of North Dakota:

Who needs a fishing license in North Dakota? 

 Generally, a fishing license is required from all anglers, sans exemptions, who wants to fish or take fish in any fresh or salt state waters in North Dakota. Specifically, you are required to possess an ND State Fishing License if you are a resident or non-resident age 16 and older. However, exemptions are provided to some individuals who meet certain criteria. If you are one of the following, you are NOT required to purchase a fishing license in North Dakota: 

  • Residents under age 16
  • Non-residents under age 16, provided that you are accompanied by an individual possessing a valid fishing license
  • North Dakota residents who are on leave from active duty with the United States military
  • Residents fishing during the scheduled Free Fishing Days (except when fishing paddlefish)

Who are considered residents of North Dakota?

A person who has actually lived in, or maintained his or her legal residence in North Dakota for the past six months, may qualify for resident licenses, providing he or she does not continue to claim residency in another state. However, those that appear below are exempted from the residency requirement and can purchase a resident license. The Waiver of Residency is given to the following: 

  • A person who will be living in North Dakota for a minimum of one year or who intends to become a resident
  • Military personnel in the state on duty or leave 
  • North Dakota resident, in the armed forces stationed outside the state
  • Non-resident full-time state or tribal college students living in North Dakota and attending a North Dakota institution of higher learning under the jurisdiction of the Board of Higher Education, a private institution, or a tribal college

What are the prerequisites for purchasing a fishing license in North Dakota? 

Both residents and non-residents are required to purchase a Fishing, Hunting, Furbearer Certificate before they are allowed to procure a fishing license in the state of Dakota. The certificate can only be purchased by an angler once every year, and it costs $1.00 (residents) and $2.00 (non-residents). 

Where are the North Dakota Fishing Licenses sold?

You can purchase a North Dakota fishing license in three convenient ways. You can choose either of the following, whichever is more convenient for you: 

Online. The state of Dakota has an online licensing portal that is also accessible through the state’s official website. You can purchase your license there without any hassle. 

Through Phone. If you are not comfortable doing online fishing license shopping, you can opt to order your fishing license by calling the North Dakota Game and Fish Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the hotline number 1-800-406-6409. Please note that a service charge of $4 is assessed for each transaction under $70 and $10 for each transaction of $70 and more.

At the NDGFD Office. You can also purchase a fishing license in person at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office at 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. 

What are the different licenses sold in the state of North Dakota? 

As pointed out earlier, there are different fishing licenses that you can purchase in the state of North Dakota. The cost of each license will vary depending on the license type, age, and resident status. Here’s a summary of the different fishing licenses you can choose from: 

Resident Fishing Licenses

License Type

Cost

Fishing License - under 16 not required, except for paddlefish tags, which are required for all paddlefish snaggers

$16

Married Couple Fishing License

$22

Senior Citizen Fishing License (65 or older)

$5

Totally or Permanently Disabled Fishing License (proof of disability required)

$5

Veteran with a 50 percent service-related disability

$5

Paddlefish

$10

A North Dakota resident who is over 16 years old can purchase an annual fishing license for only $16.00. If you are also planning a trip with your spouse, a special license called the Married Couple Fishing License, which costs $22.00 only. Furthermore, senior residents (65 or older), totally or permanently disabled residents, as well as veterans with a 50% service-related disability, can purchase a resident license for only $5.00. All residents can also purchase a paddlefish license to be allowed to catch paddlefish (limits and other regulations apply). On top of that, combination licenses which include fishing, general game and habitat, small game and furbearer licenses are also available for residents. Please see the matrix below for the prices: 

Combination License (age 16 or older) - includes fishing, general game and habitat, small game and furbearer licenses.

$50

Veteran Combined Hunting (requires 100% service-related disability) includes general game and habitat, small game, and fur-bearer licenses

$3

Non-Resident Licenses

Licenes Type 

Cost

Individual Season Fishing - nonresidents under 16 do not need a fishing license if accompanied by a licensed adult, except that paddlefish tags are required for all paddlefish snaggers.

$45

Married Couple Season Fishing

$60

3 Day Fishing

$25

10 Day Fishing

$35

Paddlefish Tag

$25.50

Non-residents have different license options that differ in terms of validity duration. As a non-resident, you can purchase an annual fishing license for $45.00 or buy a Married Couple Fishing License for $60.00. If you think that purchasing an annual license is impractical for your planned trip, you can also purchase a short-term license. They come in 3-day ($25.00) and 10-day ($35.00). A paddlefish tag can also be purchased for only $25.50.

Fishing Seasons and Daily Limits

Please observe the following fishing seasons and fishing limit when fishing in North Dakota to be compliant to the regulations of the state: 

Fishing Season

Area

Season

OWLS Pond, State Fair Pond

Closed to fishing at night (sunset to sunrise).

Lightning Lake, McDowell Dam, State Fair Pond

Closed to all ice fishing. Open to all open-water fishing.

Portions or all of the following waterfowl rest areas: North Golden Lake, Sheyenne Lake

Closed to all fishing September 20 through November 30 or when conditions allow for ice fishing (whichever comes first). Open to all fishing all other times.

All national wildlife refuges and easement national wildlife refuges are closed to fishing except the following (contact refuge headquarters for designated open areas and special restrictions):

Arrowwood, J. Clark Salyer, Lake Darling (and all waters within the Upper Souris refuge boundary), Lake Ilo, Long Lake and Tewaukon national wildlife refuges

Open to shore and/or ice fishing April 1 through March 31 in designated areas. Open to boat fishing May 1 through September 30 in designated areas. Closed to all boating October 1 through April 30.

Lake Alice and Lake Audubon (southern half of lake) national wildlife refuges

Open to ice fishing only. Closed to all other fishing and all boating.

Dakota Lake, Hobart Lake and Sibley Lake (Griggs County) easement national wildlife refuges

Open to all fishing April 1 through September 30 and December 1 through March 31. Closed to all fishing and boating October 1 through November 30.

Lake Ardoch, Rose Lake, and Silver Lake (Benson County) easement national wildlife refuges

Open to shore and/or ice fishing from April 1 through March 31. Contact refuges for specific areas and times open to boat fishing.

Statewide Daily and Possession Limits

Species

Daily Limit

Possession Limit

Walleye, Sauger, Saugeye or Combination

5

10

Northern Pike

5

10

Yellow Perch

20

40

White Bass

20

40

Bluegill

10

20

Crappie

10

20

Trout

3

6

Salmon

5

10

Burbot (Ling)

10

20

Channel Catfish

East of ND Hwy. 1

5

5

West of ND Hwy. 1

no limit

no limit

Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass or Combination

3

6

Muskellunge (pure or hybrid)

1

1

Paddlefish

See State Regulation Website

Nongame Fish (other than legal live bait fish)

no limit

no limit

Legal Live Baitfish

150

150

Leeches

150

150

Smelt

5 gallons

5 gallons

Frogs

24

24

Salamanders

24

24

Crayfish

48

48

Snapping Turtle

one annually

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is the scheduled Free Fishing Day in North Dakota?

As of writing, the state of North Dakota has not announced the schedule for the annual Free Fishing Day yet. 

Q: Do I need to bring a copy of my license when I fish?

 The fishing license (paper or electronic form) must be in possession of the licensee at all times while fishing and available for inspection.

Q: Where can I download the application form for Residency Waiver?

Residency qualifications and a waiver of residency form are available on the state's website — call 701-328-6300 for more information.