Q: Will the 365-day sport fishing licenses be available to residents and nonresidents?
A: Yes. 365-day sport fishing licenses are available to both resident and nonresident anglers.
Q: Where can I purchase a 365-day sport fishing license?
A: 365-day sport fishing licenses can be purchased using any of the following CDFW authorized sales channels:
Q: I am currently enrolled in Auto-Renewal. How will the 365-day sport fishing license affect me?
A: If you are currently enrolled in Auto-Renewal, you will receive email notifications 28 days and 14 days prior to the renewal taking place (approximately 45 days before your current license expires), letting you know that the renewal will still occur as scheduled.
If you would prefer to purchase a 365-day sport fishing license sometime later in the year to take advantage of the continuous 365-day validity period, you will need to opt out of Auto-Renewal before the license renewal occurs. To opt out of Auto-Renewal, please log in to the Online License Sales and Services web page and select Auto Renewal from the menu, and then select the "Disable Auto-Renewal" button.
Q: Will sport fishing report cards be valid for 365-days from the date of purchase?
A: No. All report card seasons and validity periods will remain unchanged.
Q: Will Auto-Renewal continue to be available for the 365-day sport fishing license?
A: Yes. Auto-Renewal will continue to be available for 365-day sport fishing licenses. After purchasing a new 365-day sport fishing license and enrolling in Auto-Renewal, your license will be automatically renewed and mailed to you approximately 45 days before your current license expires.
For example, if you purchase a 365-day sport fishing license on June 1, 2024, and enroll in Auto-Renewal, your license will be automatically renewed and mailed to you on April 15, 2025. The license will be valid June 1, 2025, through May 31, 2026.
Q: Will CDFW still sell gift vouchers that can be gifted to other people to redeem for sport fishing licenses? If so, how will they work?
A: Yes. Gift vouchers valid for 365-day sport fishing licenses are available for purchase.
Gift vouchers redeemed on or after January 1, 2023, will be for a sport fishing license that is valid for 365 days from the date of redemption. For example, if you redeem a gift voucher on January 26, 2023, you will be issued a sport fishing license valid from January 26, 2023, through January 25, 2024.
Q: How long are gift vouchers valid?
A: Gift vouchers purchased on or after January 1, 2023, will be redeemable for a 365-day sport fishing license for 365 days from the date of purchase. For example, if you purchase a gift voucher on January 26, 2023, the voucher will be redeemable for a 365-day sport fishing license through January 25, 2024.
Q: I have a gift voucher that was purchased before November 15, 2022, can I still redeem it for a 365-day sport fishing license?
A: Gift vouchers purchased before November 15, 2022, cannot be redeemed for a 365-day sport fishing license.
Gift vouchers purchased in 2022, but before November 15, 2022, were redeemable for a 2022 calendar year sport fishing license through December 31, 2022. The redeemed license was valid through December 31, 2022.
Q: How will the 365-day sport fishing license affect lifetime license holders?
A: Lifetime sport fishing license renewals are valid 365 days from the date the license is claimed or redeemed. For example, if you claim your lifetime license on March 3, 2023, it will be valid through March 2, 2024.
Q: How will the 365-day sport fishing license affect the licenses below?
- Free Sport Fishing License - Blind
- Free Sport Fishing License - Developmentally Disabled
- Free Sport Fishing License - Low Income Native American
- Free Sport Fishing License - Mobility Impaired
- Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License - Disabled Veteran
- Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License - Low Income Senior
- Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License - Recovering Service Member
A: All of the licenses above are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.
Q: Will sport fishing validations also be valid for 365-days?
A: Yes. The Second-Rod Validation, Sport Ocean Enhancement Validation, and Recreational Crab Trap Validation are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.
Q: Can I receive a refund for a 365-day sport fishing license, validation, and/or report card that I did not use?
A: No. Sport fishing license, validation, and/or report card purchases are nonrefundable.
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: Where can I purchase a sport fishing license?
A: Fishing licenses may be purchased ONLINE or at any license agent or CDFW license sales office.
Q: How long is a 365-day sport fishing license valid?
A: 365-day sport fishing licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. For example, if you purchase a 365-day sport fishing license on June 1, 2023, the license will be valid through May 31, 2024.
Q: Do I have to wear my fishing license?
A: No, but your sport fishing license must be in your immediate possession while fishing, except when diving as provided in Fish and Game Code Section 7145.
Q: I noticed my license items this year were printed on gray paper. For the last few years, licenses have been blue, green, or orange. Is a license printed on the gray paper valid?
A: Yes – the gray license you received is printed on official license stock. Blue, green, and orange licenses are valid for the dates specified on the license.
Q: How do I replace a lost or destroyed fishing license?
A: Duplicate sport fishing licenses may be purchased ONLINE or at any license agent or CDFW license sales office. A small fee is charged for each duplicate validation.
If you lose your Sturgeon Fishing Report Card you can obtain a duplicate from CDFW license sales offices only. You must complete a Sturgeon Fishing Report Card Affidavit (PDF Form) and pay the duplicate fee to replace a Sturgeon Fishing Report Card. Duplicate fees are located on the license description page.
Q: Can I laminate my license?
A: No. Licenses should never be heat laminated as this will destroy the license. If exposed to extreme heat, licenses will darken and become discolored. However, a discolored license is still valid as long as the text and signature are readable.
Q: Can I get a refund of my fishing license fee?
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 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 ONLINE or at any License Agent or CDFW License Sales Office for a sport fishing license.
Q: Can I purchase a Lifetime Fishing License?
A: Yes. California residents may purchase lifetime fishing licenses.
Q: Why do fees for fishing licenses, stamps, and report cards increase in price every year?
A: Sport fishing and hunting license fees are established in California law. The base fees for sport fishing licenses are established in Fish and Game Code Section 7149.05. The fees for sport fishing validations and most report cards are established in various sections of the Fish and Game Code or Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations.
Fish and Game Code Section 713 requires license fees to be adjusted in response to increases (or decreases) in costs of goods and services using an index called the Implicit Price Deflator. This index is a gauge of the change in the cost of goods and services from year to year.
Generally, the costs of goods and services increase at about two to three percent per year. However, this is not always the case. Costs can increase dramatically during some years. For example, the Implicit Price Deflator applied to 2023 license fees jumped to 8.48 percent due to the significant increases in inflation the U.S. economy experienced following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversely, decreases in the costs of goods and services could result in a negative Implicit Price Deflator percentage and lower license fees.
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.
Fish and Game Code, Section 7153
(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.
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 validations are not required while fishing from a public pier, all other regulations apply (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements).
Q: What kind of validations or report cards do I need?
A: In addition to your fishing license, you may need one or more of the following:
- An Ocean Enhancement Validation is required to fish in the ocean south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) (not required with a One or Two-Day Sport Fishing License);
- A Second-Rod Validation is required to fish with two rods or lines in inland waters (two rods or lines may not be used in inland waters in which only artificial lures or barbless hooks may be used);
- A Recreational Crab Trap Validation is required for any person taking crabs with crab traps as defined in CCR, T14, Section 29.80(c). When taking crabs with hoop nets or crab loop traps, this validation is not required;
- A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required by every person* fishing for salmon in the Smith, Klamath and Trinity River systems;
- A Steelhead Report Card is required for every person* fishing for steelhead in inland waters.
- An Abalone Report Card is required by every person* taking abalone from ocean waters between the center of the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and the California-Oregon border;
- A Sturgeon Fishing Report Card is required by every person* fishing for sturgeon in all California waters; and
- A Spiny Lobster Report Card is required by every person* taking spiny lobsters in California ocean waters.
* Every person must have the appropriate report card(s) in possession while fishing; including those who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as individuals under 16 years of age, persons fishing or diving on free fishing days, and anglers fishing from a public pier in ocean waters.
Q: Do I need a Colorado River Special Use Validation to fish in the Colorado River?
A: No. The Colorado River Special Use Validation was discontinued after 2013. If you have a valid California sport fishing license or a valid Arizona sport fishing license, you can fish from either shore of the portion of the Colorado River that makes up the California-Arizona boundary.
Q: Are children required to purchase report cards?
A: Yes, children are required to purchase report cards if they fish for salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems, abalone, steelhead, sturgeon or spiny lobster.
Q: Can a child who is under 16 years of age use two rods while fishing in inland waters?
A: A child under age 16 may fish with two rods in inland waters, except for those waters where only artificial lures or barbless hooks may be used.
Q: I fish from a public pier in ocean waters and I’m not required to purchase a sport fishing license. Am I required to purchase a report card?
A: Yes. Report cards are required even when a fishing license is not required. While fishing from a public pier for spiny lobster, you must have a spiny lobster report card. While fishing for sturgeon from a public pier in the ocean, you must have a sturgeon fishing report card.
Q: I heard that we are required fill out a report card for abalone and tag them. Can you briefly explain how this works?
A: The Abalone Report Card comes with 18 tags attached to the bottom. Each time you take an abalone, you must make an entry on the report card and on one tag. Immediately upon exiting the water or immediately upon boarding a vessel, whichever occurs first, fill in the month, day, time of catch, and fishing location on the abalone tag, remove and completely detach the tag from the card, and affix it to the shell of the abalone by running a string, line or zip tie through the tag and through a siphon hole of the abalone shell. Carefully read and follow the instructions on the report card as the data collected will be used for fisheries management and to enforce bag limits. You must report your harvest online or return your report card to the address listed on the report card by January 31 of the following year.
More abalone FAQs.
Q: Can you briefly explain the Sturgeon Fishing Report Card and tags?
A: The Sturgeon Fishing Report Card comes with three tags. You must record each sturgeon that you keep or release on your Sturgeon Fishing Report Card. When you keep a sturgeon, you also must complete and attach a sturgeon tag to the sturgeon. Carefully read and follow the instructions on the report card as the data collected will be used for fisheries management and to enforce bag limits. You must report your harvest online or return your report card to the address listed on the report card by January 31 of the following year.
Q: Where is the North Coast Salmon Report Card required?
A: The North Coast Salmon Report Card is required to fish for salmon in the Smith, Klamath and Trinity Rivers and all of their tributaries. It is not required to fish for salmon in the ocean or other river systems.
Q: Can you briefly explain the Spiny Lobster Report Card Non-Reporting Fee?
A: Any person who does not return their Spiny Lobster Report Card by April 30 following the spiny lobster season will be required to pay a $21.60 non-return fee when they purchase their Spiny Lobster Report Card in the following season. Individuals may alternatively choose not to fish for spiny lobster and would then be eligible to purchase a report card after sitting out one lobster season.
Q: When and where should I return my report cards?
A: All report cards must be reported by January 31 of the following year, except the spiny lobster report card which is due by April 30. You can either report your harvest online or return your report card to the address listed below:
- Abalone Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, 32330 N. Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437;
- North Coast Salmon Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Klamath River Project, 5341 Ericson Way, Arcata, CA 95521;
- Spiny Lobster Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lobster Report Card, 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA 92123;
- Steelhead Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244; and the
- Sturgeon Fishing Report Card must be returned to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sturgeon Fishing Report Card, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244.
Q: Can I get a free or low-cost fishing license?
A: Eligible low-income seniors, who are at least 65 years of age, and honorably-discharged veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 50 percent, may qualify for a Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License.
The CDFW also offers Free Sport Fishing Licenses to persons who are blind; low-income American Indians; developmentally disabled persons; and residents who are so severely physically disabled that they are permanently unable to move from place to place without the use of a wheelchair, walker, forearm crutches, or a comparable mobility-related device. Proof of eligibility for all free and reduced-fee licenses is required.
You can find more information about reduced-fee and free fishing licenses on the CDFW's Free and Reduced-Fee Sport Fishing License Information website or by contacting your nearest CDFW License Sales Office.
Q: How do I replace a lost Reduced-Fee or Free Sport Fishing License?
A: You can go to any License Agent or CDFW License Sales Office and purchase a duplicate sport fishing license, or you can purchase a duplicate through the Online License Service. A small fee is charged for each duplicate validation.
Q: There are often in-season regulation changes for groundfish. How can I find out about these changes if I do not have a computer?
A: To assist anglers without internet access, the CDFW has developed and implemented the Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801. Using a touch tone keypad, anglers can now get the latest regulations information over the phone; with a cell phone, it's even possible to get this information while at sea.
Q: Where can I ask questions about marine sport fishing?
A: If you cannot find the answer to your marine sport fishing question on the CDFW's Marine FAQs website, you may contact email@example.com.
Q: Why does CDFW attach tags to fish?
A: Biologists tag fish for many reasons, including:
- To follow fish movement over time and to ascertain migration patterns.
- To discover habitat preferences for fish at different ages, or reproductive stage.
- To determine how fast fish grow.
- To get information on fish mortality and population size.
Each species has a unique life history so researchers must tag individuals of the species in which they are interested. Since the return rate for most fish tagging projects is 5% or less, many fish must be tagged in order to gather meaningful information.
Q: What should I do with the tag found on the fish I caught?
A: The CDFW asks that you follow the instructions found on our Fresh Water Fish Tagging Information website or the Marine FAQs.
Q: How do I find out when the next good low tide is or how low the tide will be?
A: Most boating and tackle stores have inexpensive or free tide-books. You can check the tide predictions in the daily newspaper for the area you are interested in or check online.