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Florida Fishing Licenses and Regulations

The state of Florida is known for being a great place to fish. With tons of freshwater and saltwater options, it’s a world of its own. Of course, you’ll probably need to get a Florida Fishing license if you plan to do a lot of recreational fishing in public fishing areas. This license allows you to legally catch and keep fish within the state. There will also be rules you’ll need to learn once you get your license.

First, let’s take a look at the various types of fishing licenses Florida offers.

If you’re visiting Florida and plan to do lots of freshwater fishing in, then you’ll likely need a non-resident fishing license. Short- and long-term freshwater fishing licenses are offered to non-residents looking to legally fish.

It’s worth noting that you can also apply for a freshwater/saltwater combo fishing license—but only if you’re a Florida resident.

Here are the current non-resident fishing license options. Prices listed are the same for both saltwater and freshwater licenses –

  • 3-Day fishing license — $17.00
  • 7-Day fishing license — $30.00
  • Annual (12 month) fishing license — $47.00

Florida residents have a few more options. Here are the current resident fishing license options:

Resident saltwater licenses:

  • 1-year resident fishing license — $17.00
  • 5-year fishing license — $79.00
  • 1-year freshwater/saltwater fishing combo — $32.50

Prices for lifetime saltwater fishing license:

  • For children 4 years old and under — $126.50
  • For children 5-12 — $226.50
  • For those over 13 years of age — $301.50

Resident freshwater licenses: 

  • Annual resident fishing license — $17.00
  • 5-year fishing license — $79.00

Price for a lifetime fishing license depends on age—the younger you are, the cheaper the license. Prices for lifetime freshwater fishing licenses are as follows:

  • For children 4 and under — $126.50
  • For children 5-12 — $226.50
  • For those over 13 years old — $301.50

What makes you a resident of Florida?

  • If you’ve lived in Florida for at least 6 months and have an established address you’re considered a legal resident. You’re eligible to apply for a resident fishing license.
  • Also, if you’re in the US Armed Forces and stationed in Florida, you qualify for a resident fishing license.

Here’s what you’ll need to prove residency when buying your fishing license:

  • A valid Florida driver’s license. Your residency must be verified by the FDHSMV (Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
  • If you’re a member of the US military, you’ll need Florida Military Orders.

You may also use alternate proof to get your fishing license if you don’t have a driver’s license or Florida ID. Acceptable alternate proof is: 

  • A voter information card that is currently valid
  • A declaration of domicile
  • A Florida homestead exemption

Here are two ways for children less than 18 years of age to provide alternate proof of residency: 

  • A student ID card from a school located in Florida.
  • A parent’s proof of residency. (the child must be in the presence of the parent)

Reasons you’d be exempt from having to buy a freshwater or saltwater fishing license in Florida. 

  • You’re a Florida resident who’s part of the US Armed Forces, but not stationed in Florida. This pertains to residents who are on leave, and returning home to Florida for 30 days or less.
  • You’re a resident of Florida, and certified as completely and permanently disabled. You must also have a Disabled Person Fishing Certificate.
  • You’re fishing within your county of residence at your own home.
  • You’re fishing at your child’s or spouse’s home, within your county of residence.
  • You’re a minor, fishing at your parent’s home.
  • You’re approved as a developmental service’s client by the DCFS. (Department of Children and Family Services)
  • You’re a legal resident of Florida at least 65 years of age or older, with proof of age and residency.
  • You’re a senior citizen that’s 65 years of age or older, and have a Resident Senior Citizen Fishing Certificate.
  • You’re under 16 years of age.

Here are some reasons why you wouldn’t need to have a Florida freshwater fishing license: 

  • It’s Free Fishing Weekend, and you’re freshwater fishing.
  • You’re fishing in Lake Seminole or the St. Mary’s River, and possess a valid Georgia fishing license.
  • You’re fishing in a pond that’s at least 20 acres, plus the owner has paid the required $3 per acre for their fish pond license.
  • You’re fishing in a pond located on private property, and the pond is less than 20 acres.
  • You’re a Florida resident fishing with live or natural bait, without using a true rod and reel. You must be using a cane pole or some other non-mechanical form of fishing with a line and hook.

Here are some reasons why you’d be exempt from needing a saltwater fishing license. (this pertains to non-resident visitors only): 

  • You’re saltwater fishing and it’s a Free Fishing Day.
  • You’re a pier fisherman, and have a valid pier saltwater fishing license.
  • You’re fishing from a vessel that’s for hire and has a vessel license. This exemption does not include all charter captains, and excludes US Coast Guard licenses.
  • You’re fishing from a vessel operated by an individual with a valid vessel license.
  • You have a saltwater products license that’s valid
  • You have a FWC charter captain license, and qualify

About commercial fishing licenses in Florida

Anyone who catches fish in a lawful way and for the purpose of selling them must have a commercial fishing license. This includes residents and nonresidents. Here are some specific rules about commercial fishing in Florida:

  • These licenses limit harvesting to non-game fish
  • Those who hold this license can sell to anyone, but cannot buy fish with the intent of selling
  • A Commercial Freshwater Fishing License is necessary for trotlines using 25 hooks or less
  • Senior citizens aren’t exempt.
  • Besides freshwater fish or frogs, you don’t need a commercial freshwater fishing license or Commercial Freshwater Fish Dealer’s License to take or sell live bait.
  • All commercial fishing boats must have at least one commercial licensee.

Prices:

FCL – Resident Commercial Freshwater Fishing License – $25.00

FCL – Nonresident Commercial Freshwater Fishing License – $100.00 

Florida freshwater fishing regulations

There are a variety of freshwater gamefish in Florida. Each lake, pond, and river can have a unique set of rules when it comes to the bag limit and keeping size for each type of fish. For example, most lakes have no bag limit for channel catfish, whereas most ponds have a bag limit of 6. Minimum size for keeping may vary, as well.

Lawsticks and Lawstickers

Lawsticks and lawstickers are used to ensure your catch is legal. They’re a convenient way to measure your fish. They can be bought at your local sporting and tackle shop or online.

It’s worth noting that fishing regulations change a bit from time to time. You can keep current on Florida fishing regulations by visiting the FFWCC online. 

Understanding the saltwater demarcation line

This line defines where freshwater ends and saltwater begins. It also separates recreational fishing areas from commercial fishing areas. 

What’s a legal catch?

You’ll need to know the legal catching size for certain saltwater fish species, and the daily catch limit. For example, if you’re fishing for Spanish mackerel, you’ll need to know there’s a 15 per day bag limit. Plus, the minimum keeping length is 12 feet.

If you’re a commercial fishermen, you’ll need to know how to legally take and transporting your fish.

There are different fishing regulations for each saltwater species. Some regulations may vary depending on the fishing location. 

  • Gamefish can only be caught using a fishing pole or a rod and reel. You can use as many rods as you want at one time.
  • You cannot use a free floating device of any kind to catch gamefish in Florida. The use of explosives and bows and arrows are also prohibited.
  • Diving into the water and catching fish is illegal

How to legally catch non-gamefish fish in Florida: 

  • You’re allowed to use bush hooks and trotline with cut bait and other bait. This excludes the use of live gamefish parts.
  • You can also use arrows, spears, gigs, and netting to catch non-game fish. Slat baskets and traps may be used under certain circumstances.
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