Skip to content

How Much Is A Fishing License In California?

How much is a fishing license in California?
California waterways are famous for attracting outdoorsy people. California is home to some of the nation’s best surfing, boating, and fishing. Here are just a few types of fish found in California, both freshwater and saltwater species; Rainbow trout, Largemouth bass, Chinook salmon, Sturgeon, Striped bass, White bass, Halibut and Tuna to name a few.

If you’re a California resident or just visiting, it’s important you’re familiar with California’s different types of fishing licensing so you can enjoy fishing in this incredibly diverse state.

How Much Is A Fishing License in California?

The cost of a fishing license in California depends on a few key factors. Whether you’re a California resident or not might be the most important one. The price difference for residents and non-residents is fairly significant. Residential prices are more affordable.

Please note that these licenses cannot be purchased with cash; use credit, debit, or pay with a check.

According to the state government website, the current costs are:

Resident Sport Fishing License (annual, age 16 and older) — $52.66
Non-Resident Sport Fishing License (annual, age 16 and older) — $142.05

Annual licenses are available at considerably reduced rates for disabled veterans, recovering service members, and low-income seniors. If you can provide proof of your status in one of these categories, you can apply online for the reduced price.

Current Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License Cost —
$7.98 from CDWF office, or $8.38 from an authorized license provider.

A Sport Fishing License will give you access to freshwater and saltwater fishing from January 1st to December 31st. If purchased in the middle of the year, you have access until the end of the year.

California fishing license. Rainbow trout.

Short-term Licensing For Fishing In California.

Maybe you don’t plan to fish year-round. If you only take a couple fishing trips per year, or if you’re on vacation and want to enjoy just a little fishing, there are licenses that are valid for smaller time frames.

One-Day Sport Fishing License — $15.69
Two-Day Sport Fishing License — $24.33
(These short-term licenses are good for residents and non-residents age 16 and older.)

Ten-Day Sport Fishing License — $48.34
(For non-residents age 16 and older.)

Both residents and non-residents who plan to go on an offshore fishing trip for more than one day must also acquire and fill out a multi-day fishing trip declaration form. This form, which can be downloaded from the fishing section of the state’s website, on the right hand side of the page, under the “Related Information” heading. The current cost is $6.70.


Lifetime Sport Fishing Licenses.

For frequent fishers, the most cost-effective option is to purchase a lifetime fishing license.

The lifetime cost of a fishing license in California will vary based on the age of the license holder. It’s the best way to purchase a long-term license while avoiding yearly increases in license price.

License for ages 0 – 9 — $579.25
License for ages 10 – 39 — $946.75
License for ages 40 – 61 — $853.00
License for age 62 and older — $579.25

Visit the lifetime licensing information page at for more information.


Additional Validations.

The state of California uses a Report Card system to track the legal fishing of certain aquatic species. A Report Card is required if you want to fish for spiny lobster, sturgeon, abalone, steelhead, or salmon.

A Report Card is required in addition to your normal legal fishing license, and must be issued to everyone who intends to fish for these species, including children under the age of 16 who don’t require a basic fishing license.

Spiny Lobster Report Card — $10.54
Sturgeon Report Card — $9.21
Abalone Report Card — $25.10
Steelhead Report Card — $8.13
North Coast Salmon Report Card — $7.30

To fish with an additional fishing rod, or to fish on the coast south of Port Arguello, there are two more special report cards to obtain.
Second-Rod Validation (allows a person to fish with two rods) — $16.46
Ocean Enhancement (fishing south of Port Arguello) — $5.97


Lost and Duplicate Sport Fishing Licenses.

If your Sport Fishing License was lost or stolen, there will be a small fee to replace it.
Duplicate Sport Fishing License — $11.62
Duplicate Second-Rod or Ocean Enhancement — $3.24

So, how much is a fishing license in California? It depends, and is up to your individual needs!

Having the right license keeps everything legal, and helps the state keep track of fishing’s effect on California’s aquatic environment. So, be sure to take your time and make sure you’re legal when you head out to fish. For answers to more detailed questions, check out California’s fishing and hunting information webpage.

For another great fishing state and more information about fishing licenses, visit-  How Much Is A Texas Fishing License.