Pennsylvania Fishing License

Pennsylvania

Each year, anglers make a beeline for Pennsylvania's 85,000 stretches of streams, rivers, lakes and ponds that teem with a variety of trophy-sized bass, crappie, trout and many more!

You can purchase your very own Pennsylvania fishing license online via the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website or you may opt to buy it from accredited agents near you. The links below will answer all our concerns and walk you through the process of securing one.

Once your license has been approved, be sure to read up on the fishing rules and regulations of the area you plan to visit. And since local laws vary from state to state, it is important to know what protocols apply in the different areas. These rules are strictly implemented to protect fish population and to conserve marine life and their habitats for generations to come. Click on the links at the bottom for information such as seasons, regulations and fish stocking schedules.

Proper fishing ethics is expected from anglers, seasoned or not. The various fishing laws were created and implemented to promote and increase the population of the various species in the area. The fees collected from the Pennsylvania fishing licenses are directed towards the different local projects that aim to conserve and monitor fish population.


Here’s a tip for you: if you are planning to go on a weekend fishing adventure with your family or friends, you have to consider coming over to Pennsylvania. Having thousands of ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, as well as a wide variety of freshwater fishing opportunities for both beginning and experienced anglers, Pennsylvania is listed in everyone’s bucket list. 

Plus, planning a fishing trip in Pennsylvania is actually easier than you would imagine. You only need to prepare for your itinerary, your equipment, your clothes, some logistical details, and of course, fishing licenses, and you’re ready to go. Purchasing a fishing license in Pennsylvania is very easy and straightforward too. You can even pick one conveniently at reasonable prices. 

But if the whole fishing license thing still confuses you, this article summarizes all the important information that would help you know the right fishing license to purchase, how much money to prepare, where to purchase them, and what rules you need to follow before you cast a line in the state waters of P.A. 

Here are the most important things you need to know about fishing licenses in Pennsylvania: 

Who is required to purchase a Pennsylvania Fishing License?

A valid fishing license, signed in ink, is required of persons age 16 and over to fish or angle for any species of fish and to take fish bait, baitfish, and species of amphibians and reptiles from Commonwealth waters. Both residents and non-resident anglers who qualify for the aforementioned age requirement must purchase and carry in person a valid P.A. fishing license. 

On top of that, two other special permits are required in order to fish in regulated waters or catch a regulated species. The first is the Lake Erie Fishing permit, which is required for anyone who plans to fish P.A. sections of Lake Erie. The other one is the Trout and Salmon permit, which is required for any angler who wishes to take home their trout or salmon catches.

There are some exceptions when it comes to carrying a Pennsylvania fishing license, as well as some opportunities to get a discount on the cost. Find out who and how below:

  • Members of the National Guard, armed forces, and former prisoners of war (P.O.W.s) are eligible for a discount fishing license.
  • Resident veterans who are blind or certified as 100% disabled are eligible for a Disabled Veterans License.
  • Any resident veteran who has lost a limb and is over 60% disabled can apply for a reduced fee resident fishing license.
  • Residents of Pennsylvania on active duty who are stationed outside the state but returning on authorized leave are exempt from license requirements.
  • Any qualifying service personnel should, instead, show their military I.D. in lieu of a fishing license.

Residency Requirements

Similar to other states, Pennsylvania also grants special privileges to P.A. residents, which includes exemptions and discounted rates. In order to be able to purchase a resident license or permit, you need to be a BONA FIDE resident of Pennsylvania. To prove this, you must show positive proof of permanent residency by presenting one of the following documents: 

  • valid P.A. driver’s license
  • a valid non-driver photo identification card
  • a previous year’s P.A. state income tax return showing proof of payment of personal income tax as a resident of P.A. 
  • a previous year’s local earned income tax return showing tax paid to a P.A. municipality
  • a current P.A. voter registration card

Please note that the resident license remains valid for the year or years for which they are issued, regardless of whether the license holder is no longer a bona fide Pennsylvania resident. Special licenses like National Guard & Armed Forces Reserve licenses and Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) licenses are available for those who qualify the following requirements: 

National Guard & Armed Forces Reserve licenses

These licenses are available to those persons who provide documentation that within the previous 24 months the person was deployed overseas as a member of the reserve component of the armed forces for a period of 60 consecutive days or more or was released early from service because of an injury or disease incurred in the line of duty.

P.O.W. licenses

These licenses are available to persons who provide military documentation stating the person is a former prisoner of war.

Where to purchase a Pennsylvania Fishing License? 

There are different convenient means that you can purchase a Pennsylvania fishing license. The most expedient way is to purchase online. To do that, you need to login to the GoneFishingPA website. After selecting the licenses you wish to purchase, you will be required to enter your method of payment. The system currently accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or E-Check.

Fishing licenses are sold by license issuing agents through an electronic point-of-sale (P.O.S.) system. You can decide which one of these offline choices is most convenient for you if you don’t want to purchase a license online: 

  1. at more than 700 license-issuing agents 
  2. at county treasurers offices 
  3. at Fish & Boat Commission office

Different Fishing Licenses in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Fishing License

There are different licenses that are available to residents and non-residents in Pennsylvania. The licenses are organized according to the duration of their validity and are priced depending on the residency status, duration of validity, as well as age. Here’s a summary: 

Licenses

Resident

Senior Resident

Non-Resident

Lifetime

Not Available

$51.90

Not Available

10-Year

$211.90

Not Available

$511.90

5-Year

$106.90

$51.90

$256.90

3-Year

$63.90

$31.90

$154.90

Annual

$22,90

$11.90

$52.90

7-Day

Not Available

Not Available

$34.90

3-Day

Not Available

Not Available

$26.90

1-Day

$11.90

Not Available

$26.90

Resident and Senior Resident anglers can take advantage of discounted rates when purchasing a fishing license in Pennsylvania. And the good thing about PA’s licensing system is that they allow both residents and non-residents to purchase licenses with extended validity. They are selling a 10-year fishing license to both resident and non-resident anglers for the cost of $211.90 (resident) and $511.90 (non-residents). They can also purchase a 5-year license for $106.90 (residents), $51.90 (senior residents), and $256.90 (non-residents). A three-year license for $64.90 (residents), $31.90 (senior residents), and $154.90 (non-residents) is also available. Of course, annual fishing licenses can also be purchased for $22.90 (residents), $11.90 (senior residents), and $52.90 (non-residents). 

If you are planning to go to Pennsylvania to fish for just a few days, as a non-resident, you can purchase a 7-day and 3-day license for only $34.90 and $26.90, respectively. Furthermore, a one-day fishing license can also be purchased by both residents and not residents for $11.90 (residents) and $26.90 (non-residents). Please note that the one-day fishing license is not available from March 15 to April 30 every year. Also, the non-resident one-day license already included a Lake Erie and Trout/Salmon permit. 

Lake Erie and Trout/Salmon Permit

Fishing in Lake Erie or taking home the trout or salmon you caught requires a special permit. If you wish to get out on the Great Lake or hunt these delicious species, you can purchase them for a fee. Here’s a summary of the trout/salmon permit fees (please note the price is the same for both resident and non-resident anglers): 

Validity

Combo

Individual

10-Year

$141.90

$81.90

5-Year

$71.90

$41.90

3-Year

$43.90

$25.90

1-Year

$15.90

$9.90

Daily and Possession Limits in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania also instituted daily possession limits for regulated species of fish. These limits are designed in order for the state to maintain a healthy population of fish in their waters. Here’s a summary: 

SPECIES

SEASONS

MINIMUM SIZE

DAILY LIMIT

ALL SPECIES OF TROUT AND SALMON

Regional Opening Day of Trout Season* - April 4 at 7 inches 5-streams, lakes and ponds 8 a.m. through Sept. 7

7 inches

5-streams, lakes and ponds (combined species)

Regular Season - April 18 at 8 a.m. through Sept. 7

7 inches

5-streams, lakes and ponds (combined species)

Extended Season: Stocked trout waters and all waters downstream of stocked trout waters. Jan. 1 through Feb. 29 and Sept. 8 through Dec. 31

7 inches

3 (combined species)

Extended Season: Class A wild trout stream sections. Jan. 1 through Feb. 29 and Sept. 8 through Dec. 31

NO HARVEST - Catch and immediate release only

BASS-LAKES Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted

Jan. 1 through April 17 and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31

15 inches

4 (combined species)

April 18 through June 12

NO HARVEST - Catch and immediate release only

June 13 through Oct. 31

12 inches

6 (combined species)

Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge

Open year-round

40 inches

1 (combined species)

Pickerel

18 inches

4

Northern Pike

24 inches

2

Walleye and Saugeye (Hybrids)

Jan. 1 through March 14 and May 2 through Dec. 31

15 inches

 

6

Sauger

12 inches

6

American Shad

Open year-round

No minimum

3

American Shad (Lehigh River, Schuylkill River and tributaries)

NO HARVEST - Catch and immediate release only

American Shad (River Herring)

CLOSED YEAR-ROUND (Susquehanna River and tributaries)

Hickory Shad

CLOSED YEAR-ROUND

Herring, Gizzard Shad

Open year-round

No minimum

50 (combined species)

American Eel

9 inches

25

Striped Bass and Striped Bass/ White Bass Hybrids

20 inches

 

2 (combined species)

Sunfish, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Crappies, Catfish, Rock Bass, Suckers, Carp, White Bass, Bowfin and other gamefish not otherwise listed

No minimum

50 (combined species)

Baitfish/Fishbait (except Mudbugs/includes Crayfish)

50 (combined species)

Mudbugs (Dragonfly Nymphs)

Unlimited if taken from lakes, ponds, swamps and adjacent areas. 50 per day if taken from moving waters (rivers and streams)

Mussels/Clams

CLOSED YEAR-ROUND

Paddlefish, Spotted Gar and other threatened and endangered species

CLOSED YEAR-ROUND

Please download the 2020 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary: Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When does my Pennsylvania fishing license expire?

Licenses expire at midnight of the date indicated in the license. For example, a 10-Year License bought in 2017 will carry you through until 11:59 PM on December 31, 2026. 

Q: What happens if I lose my PA fishing license?

For just $6.90, you can replace it through the official online portal or at any fishing license vendor state-wide.

Q: Am I required to provide my social security number when purchasing a fishing license?

Yes. Since 1998, federal and state laws require purchasers of a Pennsylvania fishing license to provide their Social Security Number when applying to purchase a fishing license.