Do Kids Need A Fishing License?

Fishing is an enjoyable activity that kids love to do. By taking your children fishing, you get them away from the screens and allow them to enjoy nature.

It also teaches them to be patient, but to also not give up if they don’t get a bite straight away.

Patience is a great skill to develop, and fishing allows them to hone their coordination skills. Overall, fishing is just a great experience for any child to participate in.

However, we know that adults need a fishing license if they want to go fishing. Therefore, you may wonder if your child requires a fishing license as well.

This can vary depending on which state you live in. Thus, in this article, we will discover at what age kids need a fishing license. 

Fishing Licenses

Before you even think about taking your children fishing, you need to be aware of the fishing rules in your local area. Fishing licenses and regulations vary from state to state.

In some states, you may have to purchase a youth license, while in others you don’t need a license at all if your child is under a certain age.

It is up to you to check with your local state about the regulations. However, we have put together a list of the rules for each state.

At the time of writing, all the information we provide is believed to be accurate, however, it is still important to double-check for yourself. 

In the following states, children under the age of 16 do not require a fishing license:

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

However, in the rest of the states, we are about to mention, their rules are slightly different.


If you are a resident of Alaska and under the age of 18 years old, then you don’t need a sport fishing license.

Alongside this, non-residents who are under 16 years old, also don’t require a sport fishing license. 

If you are sport fishing for a particular species of fish that has an annual limit, then residents under 18 or nonresidents under 16 years of age don’t need a license.

However, they are required to record how many fish they catch and keep. They can do this for free, by collecting a sport fishing harvest record card.

This is so that certain species have an annual limit, which needs to be recorded in the sports fishing regulation summary.


Children who are under 10 years old, don’t require a fishing license. 


In Colorado, if you are under 16 years old, you don’t have to have a license. They can have a full bag and possession limit, without having a license.

Yet, if they have a second line, they must have a second-rod stamp. However, in Colorado, fishing licenses are free for anyone who is under 16 years old.

Therefore, it is easy to get your hands on a fishing license. 

If you are 16 or 17 years old and want to fish in Colorado, then you need to purchase a license.

Although, if you are between 16 and 17, then the fee you have to pay is dramatically reduced. Thus, you get a 75% discount, compared to the price of an adult license. 


Any children under the age of 9 years old don’t need to own a fishing license. However, they must be accompanied by someone who does possess one.

Then, any children between the age of 9 and 15 years old, are required to have a minor fishing license.


Overall, children under the age of 14 years old don’t require a fishing license. However, the fishing limits differ between resident and non-resident children.

For a resident kid under 14 years old, they have their own fishing limit.

While for a non-resident child who is under 14 years old, they must be with someone who does possess a fishing license.

Alongside that, the fish the non-resident child catches are included within the fishing limit of the person who has the fishing license.

A non-resident child does have the option to purchase a fishing license, and then they have their own fishing limit that isn’t included with anyone else’s.


If you are under 18 years old, then you do not require a fishing license or a trout and salmon stamp. This applies to both residents and non-residents. 


A child under the age of 16 years old, doesn’t require a fishing license, and they can keep their own limit of fish.

However, if they are fishing trout, they must share the limit of their catch with an adult who owns a fishing license.

Or the child can have their own fishing license if they want to keep their own limit of trout to themselves. 


For children under the age of 15 years old, then you aren’t required to have a fishing license.

If your child is between the ages of 15 and 17, then there is a resident minor freshwater fishing license that needs to be purchased. 


For children under the age of 17 years old, they don’t need to own a fishing license. However, they are still expected to follow all the rules and fishing regulations.

If an adult is assisting a child who doesn’t have a license, then the adult must possess one. 

Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah

If you want to go fishing in any of these states, then children under the age of 12 years old don’t require a fishing license.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, no child under the age of 15 needs a fishing license. 


If your child is under 13 years old, then you don’t need to purchase them a fishing license. 

Vermont, and West Virginia

In all of these states, if your child is under the age of 15 years old, then they don’t need to possess a fishing license. 


Children under the age of 15 years old don’t require a license. This is as long as you are only fishing for crawfish, common carp, bullfrogs, or collecting shells.

However, if you are fishing for steelhead, halibut, salmon, sturgeon, or Puget Dungeness crab then you need a catch record card.

Everyone, including any children under 15 years old, must carry a catch record card with them. These cards will be returned to the WDFW by a particular date. 


In Wyoming, if you are under 14 years old, then you don’t need a fishing license. 

Different Fishing Licenses and Permits

As you can see, whether your child needs a fishing license or permit differs from each state you live in or where you want to go fishing.

Yet, in every state, there are various different types of fishing licenses that you can purchase. Although, the price will differ from state to state as well. 

In every state, you can purchase an annual fishing license. Yet in some states, they may also offer you a multiple-year permit or a lifetime license.

However, you will notice that most licenses and permits have an expiry date and must be renewed once that date has passed. 

Generally, a fishing license is required to be purchased by anyone who is between the ages of 18 and 64.

For those, who are under 18 years old, you may be able to purchase a junior license, which will be at a discount compared to the adult license fee.

Whilst, for those of you who are above 64 years old, then you may be able to buy a senior license, which will also be at a reduced rate. 

In some states, you can fish without a license, but that is only applied to certain age groups, like children under a certain age, or those who may be disabled. 

Why Do You Need A Fishing License

You may want to take your child fishing, but they are at an age where they need a fishing license.

You may wonder why you and your child require a fishing license in the first place. Well, the money that you pay to purchase your fishing license goes towards many things. 

The money helps to improve the environment that you are fishing from. It helps to enhance the water quality of the waters you are fishing in.

While also helping maintain the habitats of the fish that you are fishing for so that they can survive and live in that area for much longer.

The money from any fishing license or fishing permit is about helping to protect the natural places and areas that the fish depend on.

While also teaching the next generation how to look after the waters. 

Assisting Minors and Fishing Licenses

Deciding to take your child on an all day fishing trip is a great day out. You may not want to fish yourself but just teach your child instead.

However, there are still some fishing rules that you must adhere to. Any adult that is helping and assisting a child who is fishing must have a license. 

In some states, particular species of fish, like salmon and trout, may require you to purchase an additional license or a stamp.

Also, in some states, there are particular rules about owning more than one fishing rod. 

As a result, just because your child doesn’t need a license, this doesn’t mean that you can get away with not having one either.

You need to have a license, and both you and your child must adhere to the fishing rules and regulations of the state you are in. 

Buying A Fishing License

Buying a fishing license for yourself or your child is very easy to do.

There are hundreds of license dealers across the country, whom you can purchase a fishing license from. Or you can buy one online or over the phone. 

If you try to buy a fishing license on the phone or online, then your license can take up to around 10 days to come through the mail.

If you do have an email address, sometimes a temporary license will be emailed to you, that you can use for those 10 days while you wait for your actual license in the mail. 

Unfortunately, in some states, you need a catch record, and you can only possess them when you receive your fishing license.

There are no temporary catch records, if you require a catch record before your full license has come through, then we would suggest going to a licensed dealer to acquire one. 

The state and federal law also requires everyone who is aged 15 and above to show their social security number before they buy their fishing license.

You will be asked for this information no matter where you buy your fishing license, this includes on the phone, dealers and online. 

Easy Fish For Kids To Catch

When taking any child on a fishing trip, especially if they are young or inexperienced, you want to make the trip as enjoyable as possible.

No child cares what they are catching, they will just be happy that something is tugging on the end of their line.

You want to go somewhere that you know there is an abundance of fish for your child to catch.

Alongside that, you want to fish for easy fish to catch. This can include sunfish, rouch, crappie, small carp or small bream.

Your child isn’t going to care how big the fish they are catching to begin with are.

Thus, smaller fish will be easier to catch, and your child can be assured that they are going to catch something.

How To Teach A Child To Fish


When teaching your child about fishing, you must remember that they have no experience. Therefore, you need to teach them slowly and gently.

It’s important that you do not force them into doing things that they are uncomfortable with. Instead, you should take it slow and let them enjoy themselves. 

Kids enjoy casting, and it’s something they always want to do. The overhand cast is the cast that is most commonly taught to kids.

It can be difficult for children to get the hang of this casting method, as it will take a lot more practice for them to get it right.

The other casting method you can try to teach your child is the sidearm casting method. This method is much easier to learn and for your child to pick up.

Fishing Equipment

Once you have taught your child how to cast, you can now start to teach them how to use their equipment.

When teaching your child about fishing equipment, you want to focus on safety first. Make sure that you teach them how to wear proper clothing, such as waders and boots.

Also, make sure that they understand how to tie knots correctly. These two items are vital to ensure that they stay safe during their time out on the water. 

Next, you can teach them how to hold their rod properly. This includes making sure that they grip the rod firmly enough so that they don’t lose control of it.

They should also make sure that they keep their hands away from the reel, as this is where all the danger lies.

Finally, you can teach them about baits. This is the part that they will really enjoy. You can choose between different types of bait depending on the type of fish you are targeting.

Some of these baits include worms, crickets, minnows, leeches, etc. Once you have picked your bait, you can teach your child how to use it.


Once your child has caught their first fish, they will be overcome with happiness. To begin with and depending on your child’s age, you will have to land the fish yourself.

However, as they get more confident, they can become more involved in helping with landing the fish. 

The first thing you need to do is to teach your child to keep the fish line tight and the tip of the rod up. Alongside that, be careful not to reel the fish in too quickly.

You want to build up the kid’s confidence before you ask them to do anything else. However, they should watch you closely so that they can take in everything that they need to do.

Also, they will learn how to handle the fish, so that they aren’t poked by any of the fish’s spines. 

Teach them to handle the fish gently. When it comes to the hook, if it is too deep, then it’s better to cut the fishing line around an inch from the fish’s mouth.

Then let the fish go, after that explain to the child that the fish will remove the hook themselves.

It is better in this scenario to leave it than cause internal damage to the fish while trying to get the hook out. 

Once you have landed the fish, then don’t forget to get a picture of your child with the fish that they have caught.

They are going to be proud of what they have accomplished, and you’ll want a picture to remember what they did. 


Taking your child fishing won’t be completely easy. As an adult or parent, you need to have patience with the child.

While the child needs to develop their patience as they wait for a fish to bite.

It is known that children have a short attention span, so sitting by a river, lake, or stream can seem really boring after a while.

The thrill of catching a fish is really exciting, but there is a lot of time in between that you are just sitting waiting for that fish to come.

Therefore, you need to keep your kid entertained while you wait for the fish to bite.

This entertainment could be something to do with fishing or where you are fishing. It could be as simple as bringing some coloring or a book for your child to do.

However, if your child does get bored, you shouldn’t be upset or angry about this.

Instead, think of something that you and your child do, this could be simply going for a walk in the area that you are.

Bring binoculars with you, so that you can point out birds, insects, and other wildlife that is around you.

Your little one will enjoy looking for all the different animals and insects that are so very close to them. 

Make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks with you, so this will keep from your child complaining that they are hungry.

Also, you should be aware of where the restrooms are so that if your child gets caught short, you know where to take them. 

To begin with, your fishing trips should be quite short, rather than an entire day. So then, your child gets used to what they need to do and what will happen.

Also, it means that when you go fishing again next time, you will already know what to expect.

This way you can make your child feel more confident because they will know what to expect. As they start to get more confident, then these trips can be extended.  

Bait You Should Use With Kids

Bait is a very important part of fishing, as it is the thing that will make the fish want to eat and get caught.

There are a couple of different kinds of baits that you can use with your child, but it may also depend on what you are trying to catch. 

Some baits work better for certain types of fish. For example, worms are good for catching bass and other large fish, whereas minnows are good for catching panfish and catfish.

If you use worms, you and your child could try digging up your own. 

Maggots are another favorite bait among anglers. Children may be scared to touch them, but as long as you show them that they are safe to handle, within 10 minutes they will be fine.

You should always check the packaging before using bait. Make sure that it is safe for children to handle and that it is suitable for the type of fish you are targeting. 

When buying bait, you should buy enough for two days. This way you can use it over a few days without having to buy anymore.

Bait is not expensive, so you don’t need to worry too much about spending money on it. 

Fishing Gear For Kids

There is a vast range of gear that you can use with kids, however, depending on the size of your child, you might find that they don’t need much at all.

For younger children, the best way to introduce them to fishing is by giving them a stick pole.

They can play with this until they feel comfortable enough to start fishing. The stick poles are usually made out of bamboo or plastic, so they are lightweight and easy to carry. 

If your child is older than 6 years old, then you can give them a rod and reel. These rods are typically made from metal and are heavy-duty.

They will require more strength to operate, but they are still a lot lighter than a traditional fishing rod. 

For larger children, you can give them a spinning reel. Spinning reels are great because they allow you to cast further distances than regular reels.

However, they are not as strong as a rod and reel. 

You can also give your child a fly rod. Fly rods are used to catch trout and salmon, which are both large fish. They are also heavier than a typical rod and reel combo. 

You can also buy a kid-sized fishing boat. These boats are designed specifically for children and are perfect for introducing them to fishing.

They come in various sizes, ranging from 2 feet to 8 feet. Your child can learn how to cast their line into the water while being able to see where the fish are. 

The Best Time Of Year To Go Fishing

As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that determine whether your child will enjoy going fishing. One of those factors is weather conditions.

If the weather is bad, then it is probably not a good idea to take your child fishing. In fact, if it rains heavily, then it is even less likely that your child will enjoy fishing. 

Another factor that determines whether your child enjoys fishing is the time of year.

If it is summer, then you should expect that most people would rather spend some time outside playing sports or doing something fun.

It is important to keep this in mind when planning your fishing trip. In the summer, your child will enjoy being outside, while in the fall and winter, your child may struggle as it is colder.

Another essential consideration is the age of your child. As mentioned above, children under 5 years old do not really understand the concept of fishing.

Therefore, you shouldn’t expect that they will enjoy it. On the other hand, children between ages 5 and 12 are considered to be “adults” by society.

They have developed an understanding of what it means to go fishing, and they are capable of handling a fishing rod and reel.

So, if your child is between these ages, then you can definitely expect that he or she will enjoy fishing. 

Fishing With Children Safety Measures

Fishing is generally a very safe activity to partake in. However, sometimes accidents can happen.

Therefore, when there is a kid involved, you need to be extra careful and take all the proper safety precautions. 

You should always keep an eye on your child while fishing, and teach by example. Younger children should always be accompanied by an adult when they want to go fishing.

They should never be left alone without someone watching them at all times. The same goes for older kids, they should never be left unattended. 

It is important that you teach your child about the dangers of water. It’s critical that you explain to them how to swim properly and how to stay out of the water if they fall into it.

Also, you should ensure that your child knows how to call for help if they become stuck underwater. 

As well as teaching your child about the dangers, it is important to teach them about the fish. Teach them how to identify different types of fish.

Explain to them where the fish live and why they live there. This way they will understand more about the fish and thus be better able to control it when they catch one. 

If your child gets caught in a net or snagged on a hook, you should immediately get them out of the water. Never leave them in the water, even if they seem fine.

Even though they may not appear injured, they could still drown if they don’t get out of the water quickly enough.

When it comes to hooks, they can be sharp, so you need to make your child aware of this.

Also, try to use barbless hooks, you want to avoid your child touching or getting hurt by the hooks as little as possible. 

Always wear appropriate footwear when you go fishing. Make sure to wear shoes that are suitable for wading in shallow waters. When you are standing in deep water, you should wear boots or waterproofs. In addition, make sure that your child wears a life jacket when they are in the water. 

On hot days, you need to make sure that you protect your own and your child’s skin. It is known that the sun reflects off the surface of the water. This can then lead to sunburn and can affect your eyes. As a result, kids should wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, fishing with kids is a great pastime. You can spend quality time together and bond over something fun. Plus, you can also learn more about your child and their interests.

Whether your child needs a fishing license differs from state to state. Thus, it is important to double-check this before you head off fishing.

However, no matter the state, the adult accompanying the child must have a valid fishing license. 

Most states require children between the ages of 12 and 15 to get a fishing license. Some states also require children younger than 12 to get a license.

If you don’t have a license, you can get one easily either online or in-store.

Thus, once you have found out whether your child needs a license, you can both get going and enjoy going on fishing trips together.

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