For many people, fishing is not simply a hobby, because it's basically a lifestyle. It's no wonder avid fishers want to introduce their kids to the world of fishing as soon as the tot is old enough to grip a rod and reel. So do kids need a fishing license as well? Staying in compliance with the local fish and wildlife agency is one way to make your outdoor adventures way more fun (and, you know, legal).
To make matters a little complicated, there isn't a single response to this question, because the rules about fishing licenses vary from state to state. In Texas, for instance, no one under the age of 17 is required to have a fishing license, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife hunting and fishing regulations site. In Oregon, however, kids between the ages of 12 to 17 will need a youth license for fishing, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It just depends on where you live.
To learn more about the rules in your own state, check out the list of State and Territorial Fish and Wildlife Offices available from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You'll find information about the requirements for licensing in your state, as well as tips on where to buy a fishing license. (In most states, licenses can be purchased online.)
Making sure you and your kids have the right fishing licenses may be a bit of a hassle, but these tiny pieces of paper actually do a lot of good. "In 2018 alone, fishing license sales generated more than $700 million across the country," according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services. All of those funds went directly to conservation and restoration efforts, so buying a fishing license is an important way to help protect your state's natural resources. Ideally, this means your children and grandchildren will still have plenty of fishing to do years from now.
If you'd rather avoid the task of updating your kid's fishing license every year, though, a super generous birthday gift could make that a thing of the past. Look into your state's policy on lifetime fishing licenses. In California, for instance, a one-time payment of $550 gives your child under ten a lifetime fishing license, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This means they will receive a sport fishing license every year for life, which is a pretty sweet deal for kids born into families of fishers. Check out your own state's details for similar offers.
To be honest though, getting the right fishing license is the easiest part of fishing with your child. Teaching your offspring how to cast a line without getting hopelessly tangled, now that's the difficult part. (Be prepared to lose some line, and perhaps a rod or two, on those first outings.) Still, it's a small price to pay for the joy of sharing your beloved hobby with your kid. Getting a fishing license for your child is just the first step toward many shared memories in the great outdoors.