Fishing is a fascinating adventure that everyone should have the opportunity to partake in. However, in the United States, you cannot fish anywhere without a license; if you do, you risk getting a big fine. So, what’s the fine for fishing without a license?
The fine for fishing without a license varies from $15 to $12,000. These charges could range from $5 to $1,000 per fish captured.
You’ll have to pay for the cost of the lawsuit if you’re forced to report to the state’s county clerk. And if you are unable to pay the fine, you may be put in jail.
Continue reading to learn more about the fines for fishing without a license in various states, as well as the requirements for obtaining one.
What Is the Fine for Fishing Without a License?
The fine for fishing without a license usually varies from $15 to $12,000. In the United States, the fine for fishing without a license varies by state.
Also, these fines may include all of the fish caught ($5 – $1,000 per fish). You may potentially be required to pay for the lawsuit as well. Failure to pay these fees could result in imprisonment.
Rather than worrying about being fined when you go fishing, you should secure a fishing license to avoid being fined excessively. In certain states, there are consequences for fishing without a license.
Anglers who fish from for-hire vessels are usually exempt from license and registration. However, you should check with each state’s fishing laws before going on a fishing trip, as state fishing restrictions can differ.
Different States and Fine for Fishing Without a License
The fine in California ranges from $485 to $1,000, with an additional $1,000 for each unlawfully caught fish, plus court costs. If you don’t pay the fines, you could end up in jail as well.
So, if you want to avoid a fine for fishing without a license in California, you need to get one as soon as you turn 16 years old. Residents of California pay roughly $43 for an annual saltwater fishing license, while non-residents pay around $130.
In Iowa, what happens if you’re found fishing without a license? In this state, the fine for each fish is roughly $15, and for each endangered species is around $1,000, depending on the presiding officer. If you can’t settle it right away, you may have to pay court fees.
Non-resident and resident anglers can fish with two lines for $14 if they obtain an annual fishing license. A three-year fishing license will only set you back $62.
In Pennsylvania, a no fishing license fine is $75, with an additional $20 fine for each unlawfully caught fish. The fishing license costs $22.90 for state residents aged 16 to 64.
If you want to save money, consider getting a multi-year license (3 to 5 years.) The savings is achievable because you will only pay $3.80 in processing fees the first year and not in subsequent years. You can also save $3.80 by purchasing a trout permit.
A multi-year license entitles you to a free online subscription to Pennsylvania’s flagship angler and boater magazine, including discounts on a variety of items.
Massachusetts law mandates fines ranging from $50 to $100, as well as a 30-day jail sentence or both. You could potentially be fined $5 per fish or $2,000 if the fish is an endangered species.
Residents and non-residents older than 16 will pay $10 for a marine fishing license. Non-residents would pay $37.50 for a year-long freshwater license, while residents would pay $27.50. Anglers must have a valid marine fishing license from CT, MA, NH, or RI.
In Florida, the fine is equivalent to the cost of the license plus $50. If you’ve been a repeat offender in the last 36 months, you’ll have to pay $100 in addition to the licensing fee.
The fines should not exceed $500 and should not be less than $50, and you have 30 days to pay the fee or appear before the county clerk for a hearing.
When you’re found fishing without a license, law officers will give you a ticket and summon you to the county clerk’s office. The citation must be accepted and signed.
Your penalties will be determined by the county court, and you will be fined accordingly. If you can show the officer a valid fishing license when the ticket was issued, you will just have to pay a $10 court charge.
Additionally, keep in mind that if you fail to appear in county court, decline the citation, or pay your fine, you will be subject to a $500+ fine and up to 60 days in jail. The reason is that the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor.
If you’re between the ages of 16 and 65, you’ll need a Florida fishing license. Non-residents will require a license if they are over the age of 16.
Exemptions in Florida Fishing License:
Some of Florida’s exemptions are listed below. Because there could be changes, you’ll need to double-check before going on your fishing trip.
The exemptions are comparable to those found in other states:
- Residents of Florida who are permanently disabled
- Children under the age of 16
- Adults above the age of 65
- Residents that fish on their own land
- Minors or children who go fishing on a parent’s land
- Military personnel who are qualified
Violations of fish and wildlife laws are strictly enforced in Texas. A fine of $25 to $500 could be imposed if you are found fishing without a license. You could be fined $175 if a park ranger catches you.
Before you go fishing, make sure you have a valid license. If you live within the area, you can buy a year-round freshwater fishing package for $30, plus an additional $5 for saltwater fishing.
Non-residents can purchase the year-round freshwater fishing package for $58 and the saltwater fishing package for $63.
Remember that the length of the fish and the quantity of fish you’re allowed to catch must be adhered to. You can contact Texas Parks and Wildlife for more information.
Seniors and other qualified citizens receive discounts, much like in other states.
7. New York
The fine for fishing and hunting without a license in New York ranges from $0 to $250, with a maximum sentence of 15 days in prison. The judge will decide whether or not your reasons are valid.
Take note that you must register for an anglers’ no-fee recreational marine fishing if you are 16 or older. Non-residents pay $50 for a year’s worth of freshwater licenses, while residents pay $25. 
Because the recipients of free licenses are comparable in most states, you can use this list to look up other states. However, you should double-check before going fishing because several exemptions may no longer exist:
- Residents of New York State who are on leave for less than 30 days from full-time active service in the US Armed Forces outside of New York;
- New York residents who are legally blind and have a doctor’s certification for the License Issuing Agent;
- New York residents who are active members of the NYS Organized Militia or the US Reserve Forces, such as the National Guard;
- Native Americans like the Poospatuck and Shinnecock tribes, as well as the Six Nations, who live on reservations in New York State; and
- Residents of state-funded hospitals, such as the Veterans Affairs hospital – your free fishing license can be obtained directly from the facility.
8. New Jersey
A $10 fine with other charges will be imposed on anyone caught fishing without a valid license. For each violation, you might be penalized $100 per fish, which could amount to about $12,000.
A one-year freshwater license costs $22.50 for residents and $34 for non-residents. A trout stamp is worth $10.50 and $20, respectively, if you desire to add one.
Anglers aged 16 and up who wish to fish in New Jersey’s marine waters must first register with the state’s free recreational marine fishing registry.
This registration is linked to the National Marine Fishing Service’s national database.
Once again, what’s the fine for fishing without a license? In some ways, the fines for fishing without a license are similar by the state in the United States. In the U.S., fishing without a license carries a fine of $15 to $12,000, plus a fine of $20 to $1,000 or less for each fish caught.
You will have to pay for the lawsuit as well if you go to court. And in the event that you do not pay your debt, the court may incarcerate you.
Children under the age of 16 (or 14 in certain areas), people with disabilities, senior citizens, and veterans, including active military personnel, are all eligible for exemptions or discounts in most states.
In Maine, the fine for fishing without a license may be as high as $50.
If you want to go fishing in Maine, you’ll need a fishing license, whether you’re a resident or not.
Previously, residents between the ages of 16 and 65 had to purchase a fishing license.
In a recent update, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced that citizens aged 15 and above can now get lifelong fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses. You must, however, first register your fishing vessel.
Residents must pay $25 to register for a marine freshwater license, while non-residents must pay $64. 
Violation of the laws and regulations of Delaware’s state parks could result in a fine of $50 to $250. If you’re a repeat offender, you could face a $500 fine from the state park.
Non-residents pay $20 for a fishing license, while residents pay $8.50. Senior citizens over the age of 65 and youngsters under the age of 16 are two exceptions.
You’re also excluded if you have a valid Delaware fishing vehicle permit and your vehicle is parked in a state-designated park surf fishing grounds.
Depending on the severity of your violation, including the circumstances surrounding it, fishing without a license in Connecticut can cost you anywhere from $50 to $500.
Residents between the ages of 16 and 64 must get a fishing license, which costs $10. Non-residents aged 16 and up must pay a fee of $15.
Non-residents pay $55 for a one-year freshwater fishing license, while residents pay $28. The cost is $63 for non-residents and $32 for residents for all waters.
If you’re caught breaking Maryland’s DNR citation regulations, you might face a fine of up to $1,000, depending on the circumstances. This law only applies to first-time offenders.
A second offense would cost you far more.
Non-resident anglers pay $30.50 for a year-long freshwater/non-tidal license, while resident fishermen pay $20.50. If you want a trout stamp, you’ll have to pay $10 if you’re not a resident and $5 if you are.
Residents aged 16 and up are encouraged to join the free recreational marine fishing registry.
This registry is part of the National Marine Fishing Service’s nationwide database for recreational fishers. Maryland will accept a Virginia license as well. 
How Do You Obtain a Fishing License in the United States?
Fishing licenses are issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Office. However, you can purchase your fishing license directly from the following:
- Retail establishments (like Walmart)
You may get a reference number quickly with your photo I.D. and proof of residency before you begin fishing. You’ll be able to receive your actual fishing license later.
Fishing License Requirements in the US
- Proof of residence (Driver’s License or Utility bill)
- Photo ID
Conclusion – What’s the Fine for Fishing Without a License?
The fine for fishing without a license in the United States ranges from $15 to $12,000, plus a penalty for each fish caught, which can range from $5 to $1,000. You may also have to pay court costs. If you do not pay the fines, you may be put in jail.
Fishing is a lot of fun, and everyone should do it at least once in their lives. However, you can’t just go fishing anywhere in the United States. Each state requires a fishing license.
Because they share a body of water, some states have the same license.
If you intend to fish in multiple states, you may want to get a national fishing license that covers all of them. So, before you go fishing, be sure you have a valid fishing license.