California Sportfishing License Questions
Q: Who needs a sport fishing license?
A: Any person who is 16 years of age or older must possess a valid sport fishing license when taking any fish, shell fish, reptile, or amphibian in California (Fish and Game Code Section 7145). Fish and Game Code Section 86 defines take as: hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill.
Q: Do I have to wear my fishing license?
A: No. As of March 1, 2010, anglers no longer have to display their sport fishing license on their outer clothing above the waist. However, their sport fishing license must be in their immediate possession while fishing, except when diving as provided in Fish and Game Code Section 7145.
Q: How long is an annual sport fishing license valid?
A: Licenses are valid for a calendar year (January 1 through December 31) or for the remainder of the calendar year if purchased after January 1.
Q: Where can I purchase a sport fishing license?
A: Fishing licenses may be purchased online, from License Agents and at DFG License Sales Offices.
Q: How do I replace a lost or destroyed fishing license? UPDATED
A: Go to any License Agent or DFG License Sales Office and pay the appropriate fee for a duplicate sport fishing license. A small fee is charged for each duplicate validation.
If you lose your Abalone Report Card or Sturgeon Fishing Report Card you can obtain a duplicate from DFG license sales offices only. You must complete an Abalone Report Card Affidavit and pay the duplicate fee to replace an Abalone Report Card. You must complete a Sturgeon Fishing Report Card Affidavit and pay the duplicate fee to replace a Sturgeon Fishing Report Card. Duplicate fees are located on the license description page.
Q: Do I have to buy an annual license if I am only going to fish a couple of days?
A: No. Residents and nonresidents can purchase a One or Two-Day Sport Fishing License valid for fishing both ocean and freshwater. Nonresidents can also purchase a Ten-Day Nonresident Sport Fishing License.
Q: Can I get a refund on my fishing license?
A: No. Fishing licenses are considered valid and in use from the time of purchase and the fees cannot be refunded.
Q: Can I purchase a Lifetime Fishing License?
A: Yes. California residents may purchase lifetime fishing licenses. You can find information about the lifetime license application process online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/lifetime/lifetime.html.
Q: Why do fees for fishing licenses, stamps and cards increase in price every year?
A: California law establishes fishing and hunting license fees each year for the DFG. The base fee for sport fishing licenses established in Fish and Game Code Section 7149 and the fees for validations and most report cards are established in other sections of the FGC or Title 14, of the California Code of Regulations.
The FGC requires license fees adjust in responce to increases (or decreases) in costs of goods and services using an index called the Implicit Price Deflator (Fish and Game Code Section 713). This index is a gauge of the change in the cost of goods and services from year to year.
For example, as hatchery, law enforcement and wildlife management costs have increased, license fees needed to increase to keep pace with these rising costs. Essentially, license fees adjust up and down to compensate for inflation or deflation. If license fees did not adjust for inflation, then funding for fish and wildlife management and protection would actually decrease because the buying power of a dollar has declined over the years.
Generally, the cost of goods and services increases at a fairly steady, slow rate. About two to three percent per year is common. In recent years, some costs have increased dramatically, particularly the cost of fuel. Because of this, the cost of goods and services jumped approximately 6.19% and 2009 license fees increased accordingly. If the cost of goods and services were to decrease, then license fees would actually decrease the same percentage.
Although fishing and hunting license fees have increased throughout the years, the increase ensures that the DFG has adequate funding to manage California's diverse fish and wildlife resources and provide the public with enjoyable fishing and hunting experiences.
Q: Can I purchase a fishing license for my friend?
A: You can if you have all the required information to issue a license to your friend. If you do not have all the information required to purchase a license for your friend, you can purchase a gift voucher that your friend can redeem at any License Agent or DFG License Sales Office for a sport fishing license.
Q: Is a fishing license required while fishing from a public fishing pier in ocean waters?
A: No, but it must be a public fishing pier. A Sturgeon Fishing Report Card is required to take sturgeon from a public pier in ocean waters. A Spiny Lobster Report Card is required to take spiny lobster from a public pier in ocean waters.
(a) A sport fishing license is not required to take fish for any purpose other than profit by means of angling from a public pier in the ocean waters of the state. (b) For purposes of this section, ocean waters include, but are not limited to, the open waters adjacent to the ocean and any island; the waters of any open or enclosed bay contiguous to the ocean; the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, with any tidal bay belonging thereto; and any slough or estuary, if found between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge (Fish and Game Code Section 7153).
A public pier is defined in the sport fishing regulations as a publicly owned man-made structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the land mass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.88)
Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers.
Even though licenses and stamps are not required while fishing from a public pier, all other regulations apply (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements).