Have you ever had a family member or buddy who you wanted to take fishing, but they didn’t want to purchase a fishing license? Have you always wanted to try fishing but didn’t want to fork up the price of a annual license? Are you an avid saltwater angler that doesn’t want to purchase a freshwater license but always wanted to try a popular bass pond? FWC has waved the need for fishing licenses on select weekends to give everyone the opportunity to experience the fun of fishing! This perk is available to both residents and non-residents and other recreational regulations still do apply. These weekends occur every year so if any of them have passed, check back in 2021! Learn more about license free fishing days here and here!
License-free freshwater days
- First consecutive Saturday and Sunday in April (This year April 4th-5th 2020)
- Second consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June (This year June 13th-14th 2020)
License-free saltwater days
- First consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June (This year June 6th-7th 2020)
- First Saturday in September (This year September 5th 2020)
- Saturday following Thanksgiving (This year November 28th 2020)
When do you normally need a fishing license?
A fishing license is required to ATTEMPT to take a fish. If you cast a line with no intention of keeping the fish, you need a license. If you are netting fish, you need a license. If are trying to catch him by hand, you need a license.
Take is defined as: “taking, attempting to take, pursuing, molesting, capturing, or killing any fish, or their nests or eggs by any means whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such fish or their nests or eggs”
There are both freshwater and saltwater licenses so make sure you have the appropriate one when fishing a body of water. Certain species like lobster and snook need an additional endorsement on your license.
Licenses are also required for anyone ASSISTING on the attempt to catch that fish. Technically if you bait your buddies hook, you need a license.
If you have more questions like fishing brackish water etc check out these FAQs
Where Do I Get a License?
Online: Licenses are available to be purchased online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or on the Fish Hunt FL App. The app is actually really cool because you can sync your licenses and view them on your mobile device if you’re not carrying your wallet around. There are also links to regulations if you’re unfamiliar with current bag, slot limits or seasons (the Fish Rules App is also great for that).
By phone: You can purchase your licenses/permits over the phone by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356)
In Person: Licenses can be purchased at tax collector’s offices or at a licensing agent. These licensing agents are usually larger sporting supply stores or stores that have a large fishing selection (Bass Pro, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Sunshine Ace Hardware etc.)
Wait What? There Are People Exempt From Needing a License?!
There are a good number of situations in which someone may be exempt from needing a fishing license, for a full list check here however some of the more typical exemptions are listed below.
- If you’re a Florida resident 65 years old or over, you do not need a fishing license. All that is required is a form of ID to prove your age.
- If you’re under the age of 16 you do not need a fishing license however you may be asked to prove your age.
- “Those freshwater fishing or hunting in your county of residence on your homestead (or the homestead of your spouse or minor child), or if you are a minor child freshwater fishing or hunting on the homestead of your parent.”
- “Florida residents certified as totally and permanently disabled who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person’s Hunting and Fishing License.”
- “Florida residents who are members of the Armed Forces of the United States, who are not stationed in this state and home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders.”
- “Individuals who are observing or filming someone else who is fishing or hunting and who are not assisting (baiting hooks, reeling, setting decoys, calling birds, etc.) in the take in any way.
- “Disabled veterans or active or reserve duty military service members and their immediate family members and assistants, who are participating in a permitted outdoor recreational event, for which the Commission has issued a Military/Disabled Veteran Event License Exemption Permit to the event organizer.”
- “Florida residents saltwater fishing from land or a structure fixed to land who have been determined eligible for the food stamp, temporary cash assistance, or Medicaid Program by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Proof of identification and a benefit issuance or program identification card issued by DCF or the Agency for Health Care Administration must be in possession when fishing. A license is required when fishing from a vessel or when swimming or diving, and this exemption does not apply to freshwater fishing.”
- “Florida residents fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that are not equipped with a fishing-line-retrieval mechanism, for noncommercial purposes in their home county (does not include fish management areas within the home county).”
Gulf Reef Fish Survey
If you’re exempt from needing a fishing license (looking at you Seniors), you still may need to sign up for the Gulf Reef survey. All anglers in the Gulf of Mexico who are targeting reef fish are required to sign up for the Gulf Reef Survey. Why? So fishery managers can have a better idea on what the million plus recreational anglers are targeting/catching. The data will be used to make more informed management decisions. This program is FREE and you can sign up online or when renewing your fishing license. What happens after you sign up? “You may be randomly selected to receive a survey by mail about your fishing activity. The information you provide is used to estimate the total number of recreational fishing trips for reef fish on Florida’s West coast during a given month. Even if you did not fish for Gulf reef fish, your feedback allows scientists to more accurately determine fishing effort.” Learn more about it here!