Do Senior Citizens Need a Fishing License?

Some of the links below are affiliate links, so we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Check our disclaimer for more info. (* = affiliate link)

Everyone knows that to fish in the United States, you almost always need a fishing license. However, there is some speculation about what benefits seniors get when it comes to recreational activities such as fishing. Do senior citizens need a fishing license?

In some states, senior citizens don’t need a fishing license if they are over 65 years old. This is not true for the entire country. There are several states in the United States that provide free fishing licenses. Also, there are a few states that will offer a discount on licenses for seniors.


Do Senior Citizens Need a Fishing License?


Let’s take a closer look at which states don’t require seniors to have a fishing license.

Why Is a Fishing License Needed?

Countries that implement a need for a fishing or hunting license do so to preserve these fish and animals’ natural environments. Without proper regulation of fishing and hunting, animals would go extinct at an alarming rate.

In fact, Oregon instated its first fishing license laws in 1899 when the sturgeon fish population fell. The fish were over-harvested, which caused a decrease in their numbers that year. Having a fishing license and limitations on what could be caught helped re-establish the Oregon area’s sturgeon breed.

Having a fishing license helps protect fish populations. The money from the licenses also works to care for and maintain bodies of water within the state. The money also goes to educational programs and other helpful programs available to the public.

Having a fishing license, regardless of age, allows you to take the fish you catch. However, some places require a fishing license even if you are releasing the fish you catch. You still need a license to catch and release because the money used to buy your license will maintain the waters and the habitats of those fish.

Types of Fishing Licenses

A common misconception is that you don’t need the other kind if you have one type of fishing license. Some believe that if you have a saltwater fishing license, you can use that for fishing in freshwater. That just isn’t the case.

  • Freshwater License If you plan to fish in primarily freshwater, you’ll only need a freshwater license. These do not allow you to fish in saltwater areas or take saltwater fish. 
  • Saltwater License This license will allow you to fish in saltwater areas and to take saltwater fish. However, you won’t be able to use these in freshwater areas or to take freshwater fish. There are some states, such as New Jersey, that don’t require a saltwater license.
  • Combination License Many states will offer a combination of freshwater and saltwater. This will allow you to fish and take fish from both freshwater and saltwater.

It’s important to ask your license provider which types of licenses they offer. If you plan on fishing in both types of water, you’ll need to specify that even if you’re a senior citizen.

If you plan to do any kind of fishing that isn’t rod and line fishing, you’ll want to make sure your license reflects that information. For example, if you plan to fish with a bow and arrow, you’ll need to make sure your state allows that type of fishing and if you need a license for it.

Other types of fishing include spearfishing, trapping, trolling, and many others. For a full list, you can see these 33 different styles of fishing

Why Seniors Don’t Need a Fishing License

Active duty military, veterans, and senior citizens are typically given free or discounted rates for fishing and hunting licenses in several states in the US. The purpose of this is to reward them for their years of service and for the conservation of the lands and waters of the country. 

Not all states or countries will exempt senior citizens from requiring a fishing license. It’s important to check with the laws in your area to ensure you follow all proper guidelines, regardless of your age. 

There are some states, such as California, that don’t require a license if you are fishing off a public pier. This is true, no matter what your age is. However, there are other limitations, such as the type of fishing you’re allowed to do and how much fish you can take.

States Where Seniors Don’t Need a Fishing License

Of the 50 states that make up the country of the United States, there are only nine that don’t require a fishing license for senior citizens. If you are a senior in the states listed below, you won’t be required to have a fishing license, or you may need the license, but it will be free for you.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island

States That Give a Free or Discounted Fishing Licenses to Senior Citizens

There are at least 27 states that offer a free or discounted fishing license in the US. There are at least 32 states that offer lifetime fishing and hunting licenses to their residents. New Hampshire and Georgia offer discounted lifetime fishing licenses to their seniors.

The age that residents and non-residents are considered senior citizens is also going to differ from state to state. Generally, the age most states go by is 65 years old. However, there are some states that determine a senior as anyone over the age of 60, while others require the age to be closer to 70. It’s best to find out what the laws are within the state you wish to fish.

Do You Need a License in Other Countries?

Other countries are going to have their own laws when it comes to fishing. These laws are in place to help protect the survival of the different species of fish and protect the waters they are found in. If you plan to fish or hunt in a country that isn’t your own, it’s important to find out what their requirements are and if they have exemptions for seniors.

In the United Kingdom (except for Scotland and Northern Ireland), everyone must have a fishing license if they are over the age of 13. They only offer free licenses to anyone between the ages of 13 and 16 years old. 

This UK fishing license is meant for those who intend to fish for salmon, trout, eel, smelt, and any other freshwater fish. It’s also only good for rod and line fishing. If you intend to use any other means of fishing, this license will not allow you to do that.

Where To Purchase a Fishing License

There are a lot of places that you can go to purchase or obtain a fishing license. Many places, such as Walmart, provide fishing licenses in their outdoor area. You’ll also find that many bait and tackle shops will sell fishing licenses. If you are a senior, you will likely need to prove your age using a government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license. 

You can also get your fishing license online quickly and easily. This could be the best option for you if you plan on fishing in multiple states and don’t wish to stop to pick up a license at every location. 


Everywhere you go is going to have different laws and regulations for what seniors are exempt from. Many areas will allow seniors to fish for free or without a license at all. With each state requiring different minimums, you’ll want to check with your area to see if you qualify as a senior citizen.



Hey there, my name is Ruth, I'm in my late fifties. My life was turned upside down a few years ago as I experienced a burn-out. But I saw it as a sign that something had to change in my life. I'm happy I used this tough experience as a stepping stone. I now feel happier than ever and hope to inspire you to do the same, no matter how old you are.

6 thoughts on “Do Senior Citizens Need a Fishing License?

  1. You look good for late 50″s You must eat right and stay away from the booze and chewing tobacco and smokes. But it is sad that another issue will take us out. were not here to live forever. Good luck to all of us.

  2. I am 70 yrs old live in Nevada is there a discount to get out of state license for California for fresh water

  3. I find it detestable that the state of Texas requires seniors to have a license to fish. We already are taxed to the breaking point and for what? I am 78 going on being older and my one wish is I could be in charge for a month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts