Ohio Fishing License

Ohio

Anglers love to fish in Ohio's Lake Erie and in its many island lakes such as Portage or Mosquito Lakes or in the reservoirs at Jackson City and LaDue. Stocked or spawned, the varieties of fish in Ohio include largemouth bass, yellow perch, muskellunge, suckers, bluegills, crappie, channel catfish, brown bullhead and more. Before one can fish, a fishing license is required.

It is easy enough to purchase a fishing license online. But before getting one, it is best to know about the different types of license offered simply by reading up on them from the website. Freshwater fishing is offered in Ohio and a fishing license allows anglers to fish in all the lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks and reservoirs in the state.

Fishing license is available 24/7 from the website of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources or through a legitimate fishing license vendor.

Ohio's fishing rules and regulations were formulated based on the existing conditions of the fish populations and waterways of the states. Statewide and site specific regulations are strictly implemented and may be tweaked from time to time based on current needs.

Funds collected through fishing license fees are used in the conservation effort of Ohio. Each one is enjoined to help with the conservation preservation of the fish and waterway resources simply by adhering to the fishing regulations. Practicing proper catch and release, not polluting the waterways and teaching new anglers about conservation and correct fishing etiquette will go a long way towards protecting and conserving the fish populations and waterways of Ohio.


Getting a fishing license in Ohio can be a little confusing to some, but after you experience the one of a kind fishing experience in the “Buckeye State,” it’s going to be all worth it. The famous Lake Erie frames the state of Ohio to the North and the Ohio River bordering Kentucky to the south. With these stunning bodies of water, fishing in Ohio will never disappoint. 

But what about the confusing licensing system? Well, you don’t have to worry because we got you covered. This quick guide will run through the most important information that you need to know when purchasing a fishing license in the state of Ohio. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

The Basics: What kind of license do you need when fishing in Ohio? 

Fishing licenses in Ohio is an important requirement before you can catch fish in its state waters. But there are two basic types of licenses that you need to procure depending on the purpose that you intend to do or where you wish to catch a fish. 

  • Ohio State Fishing License - required to catch fish in all freshwater across the state. 
  • Lake Erie Fishing License - required of NON-RESIDENTS who wish to cast their lines at Lake Erie between January 1 and April 31 of every year. 

Who is required to purchase an Ohio Fishing License? 

The general rule is that an Ohio Fishing License is required to take fish, frogs, and turtles from Ohio waters. On top of that, the following rules also apply:

  • People fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs to and from which fish do not migrate are not required to have a license to take fish but must have one to take frogs or turtles.
  • A person fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs that are open to public fishing through an agreement or lease with the ODNR Division of Wildlife is required to have a fishing license.
  • A person fishing must have their license in their possession while fishing and must show the license to anyone on request. Licenses can be displayed using a mobile device.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty stationed in Ohio, but not on leave or vacation, are required to purchase a resident license. Persons fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs to and from which fish do not migrate are not required to have a license to take fish but must have one to take frogs or turtles.
  • A person fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs that are open to public fishing through an agreement or lease with the ODNR Division of Wildlife is required to have a fishing license.
  • A person fishing must have their license in their possession while fishing and must show the license to anyone on request. Licenses can be displayed using a mobile device.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty stationed in Ohio, but not on leave or vacation, are required to purchase a resident license.

However, there are some exemptions from Ohio’s fishing license requirements. If you one of the persons below, then you are NOT required to purchase a license before fishing in the state of Ohio: 

  • Less than 16 years of age;
  • Assisting an angler who has been issued the free mobility impaired or blind fishing license, provided the two persons together are using only one line;
  • Fishing in a private pond;
  • Fishing on land and water which they or their parents own, except where the land is in or borders on state parks or state-owned lakes;
  • Fishing on land and water where they or their parents are tenants on which they reside, and from which they derive the majority of their income from agricultural production on that land (except state-owned lakes);
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty while on leave or furlough;
  • Ohio residents who fish during the Free Fishing Days.

Where to buy an Ohio Fishing License? 

There are several methods that you can choose when purchasing an Ohio fishing license. You can choose any of the following convenient ways to submit your license application: 

  • Online - Both residents and non-residents can apply for their fishing licenses online. All relevant requirements need to be submitted to the state’s online license sale platform
  • Walk-In - You can also walk in one of the hundreds of accredited and official license vendors across the state of Ohio. You can buy one from local tackle stores and even from over 100 Walmarts. Please check the Official Vendor Locator Map to find the nearest vendor in your area. 
  • By Mail-Order Form - Call 1-800-WILDLIFE or (614) 264-6300 and ask to receive a Mail Order Application Form.
  • By Telephone -  For one or 3-day licenses, you can call: 1-866-703-1928 to talk to a live operator (there’s a $5.50 fee) or 1-855-764-3474 to use an interactive voice response service, which will cost $3.25.

When you purchase your license online, you are allowed to keep a digital copy of your license on your mobile device. You can also print a paper copy, or you can request a Conservation Card for $4. If you ordered by telephone, just keep your license number along with a form of personal ID. 

Please note that Lake Erie-specific licenses are not sold online. 

Different Types of Fishing Licenses in Ohio

Different licenses are available for purchase for both residents and non-residents. The cost varies depending on age, duration of validity, and residency status. Here’s a summary: 

LICENSE TYPE

COST

Resident Fishing License

For persons age 16 through 65 who have resided in Ohio for the past six months.

$19.00

Resident Reduced-Cost Senior Fishing License

For persons age 66 and older, born on or after January 1, 1938 who have resided in Ohio for the past six months.

$10.00

One-Day Fishing License

For residents and nonresidents, the purchase of a One-Day Fishing License may be applied as credit toward the purchase of an annual fishing license (minus writing fee). Only one may be applied to the purchase of an annual license.

$11.00

Lake Erie Charter One-Day Fishing License

For residents and nonresidents, the license may be purchased in advance of a scheduled charter trip. To validate the license, anglers must sign it and fill in the date at the beginning of the trip. If the trip is postponed, anglers may keep the unvalidated license until they are able to reschedule the trip.

$11.00

Annual Nonresident Fishing License

$40.00

Three-Day Nonresident Tourist’s Fishing License

$19.00

Duplicate License

A fishing license that has been lost, stolen, or destroyed can be reissued from any license vendor or via the Internet.

* Free reprints are available at wildohio.gov beginning March 1, 2017.

$4.00

Residents can purchase an annual license, which is valid for 365 days after the purchase date, for only $19.00, while non-residents can purchase the same for $40.00. Senior residents, meaning they are older than 66 years old, are given a discounted price for an annual license and can purchase it for only $10.00. A one-day fishing license can also be purchased by both residents and non-residents for only $11.00, while non-residents can purchase a 3-day permit for $19.00. 

For those who have lost or damaged their licenses, they can purchase a duplicate license for only $4.00. 

Free Licenses

The following persons are qualified to get an Ohio Fishing License for free: 

  • Ohio residents born on or before December 31, 1937, can obtain a free license at any license outlet, or online at wildohio.gov.
  • The following Ohio residents are also eligible for a free license, but must submit a formal application, which is available by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543):
  • Persons who are mobility impaired and require the assistance of another person to cast and retrieve;
  • Holders of veteran license plates displaying the international wheelchair symbol;
  • Certain veterans who are permanently disabled;
  • Residents of state and county institutions;
  • Former prisoners of war.

Lifetime Licenses

Minor resident anglers can purchase a Lifetime Fishing Licenses for only $430.56 for children under the age of 16. Lifetime licenses would remain valid even if the licensee changed its residency status. 

Daily and Possession Limits

Daily and possession limits are imposed by the state of Ohio to protect its water resources and maintain a healthy fish population. These regulations apply to all public waters in Ohio, where site-specific regulations are not implemented. Exceptions to these regulations include Lake Erie and its tributaries, locations listed in the Site-Specific Waters, Pymatuning Lake, and the Ohio River.

SPECIES

DAILY LIMIT

MIN. SIZE

Blue & Flathead Catfish (under 35 inches)

No limit

None

Blue & Flathead Catfish (35 inches or larger)

1 of each (statewide)

35 inches

Channel Catfish (under 28 inches)

6 (public lakes under 700 acres)

No limit (all other public waters)

None

Channel Catfish (28 inches or larger)

1 (statewide)

28 inches

Lake Sturgeon

Possession is prohibited

None

(The lake sturgeon is an endangered species in Ohio and must be returned unharmed to the water immediately if caught.)

Largemouth, Smallmouth, & Spotted Bass

5 (singly or in combination)

12 inches

Muskellunge

1

None

Striped, Hybrid-Striped, & White Bass

30

No more than 4 over 15 inches

Trout (all species)

5 (singly or in combination)

None

Walleye, Sauger, & Saugeye

6 (singly or in combination)

None

Yellow Perch

30

None

All other fish

No limit

None

For regulations imposed in Lake Erie, please see here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When will my annual license expire? 

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

Q: Is there a Social Security Number requirement in Ohio?

Yes. Any customer who applies for a license is required to provide their Social Security Number (SSN). Federal Statute 42 requires the SSN of any individual to whom the state issues a recreational hunting or fishing license. Applicants who do not have an active SSN must affirm their status at the time of application.