Fishing in Texas: Your Complete Guide to License Requirements

Fishing is a beloved pastime in the Lone Star State, with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and coastal waters teeming with diverse species. However, before you can cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the fishing license requirements in Texas. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to ensure you’re fishing legally and responsibly.

Age Requirements for a Texas Fishing License

In Texas, the age requirement for obtaining a fishing license is straightforward: anyone 17 years of age or older must have a valid fishing license to fish in public waters. This rule applies to both residents and non-residents alike.

However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule:

  • Senior Exemption: Texas residents born before January 1, 1931, are exempt from the fishing license requirement.
  • Disability Exemption: Individuals with an intellectual disability can fish without a license if they are part of a medically approved therapy program under supervision or if fishing under the direct supervision of a licensed angler who is a family member.
  • State Park Exemption: No fishing license is required when fishing from banks or piers within Texas State Parks.
  • Free Fishing Day: On the annual Free Fishing Day in Texas (the first Saturday in June), a license is not required for anyone to fish.

It’s important to note that these exemptions are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) website for the most up-to-date information.

Types of Texas Fishing Licenses

If you do need to purchase a fishing license in Texas, there are several options available depending on whether you plan to fish in freshwater, saltwater, or both. The different license types are:

Freshwater Fishing License

This license allows you to fish in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and other freshwater bodies in Texas. Costs:

  • Resident: $30
  • Non-resident: $58

Saltwater Fishing License

Required for fishing in the saltwater areas along the Texas coast. Costs:

  • Resident: $35
  • Non-resident: $63

All-Water Fishing Package

This combined package covers both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It’s a convenient option if you plan to fish in both environments. Costs:

  • Resident: $40
  • Non-resident: $68

In addition to the basic licenses, you may need to purchase endorsements or tags for certain species like red drum (redfish). Always check the latest regulations to ensure you’re in compliance.

Resident vs. Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

To qualify as a Texas resident for fishing license purposes, you must have lived continuously in the state for more than six months immediately before purchasing your license.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty are also considered residents, even if their official home state is elsewhere.

Non-resident licenses are more expensive, so be sure to have proof of residency if you’ve lived in Texas for over six months.

How to Buy Your Texas Fishing License

You can purchase Texas fishing licenses through the TPWD website, by phone, or from retailers across the state like sporting goods stores and some grocery chains.

The online option allows you to get licenses immediately and even store them on your mobile device using the Outdoor Annual app for proof of purchase.

Licenses are valid from the date of purchase through August 31st of the following year. So, for example, if you buy an annual license in May 2024, it will be valid until August 31, 2025.

Reciprocal Fishing License Agreements

Texas has reciprocal agreements with neighboring states Louisiana and Oklahoma that allow some fishing across borders without an additional license:


  • Texas residents 65+ can fish anywhere in Louisiana with just a Texas senior fishing license
  • Texas residents under 65 can fish in waters along the TX/LA border like Caddo Lake with just a Texas license


  • Texas residents 65+ can fish in Oklahoma with just a Texas senior license
  • Oklahoma residents 65+ can fish in Texas with just an Oklahoma senior license
  • Everyone else needs an Oklahoma license to fish there, except for fishing Lake Texoma which has its own license

Be sure to check the latest regulations, as these reciprocal agreements can change over time.

Lifetime Fishing Licenses in Texas

For avid anglers, Texas offers resident lifetime fishing licenses which cover you for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The costs are:

  • Lifetime Resident Fishing License: $1,000 (all ages)
  • Lifetime Combination Hunting and Fishing License: $1,800 (all ages)

While more expensive upfront, these can pay off over many years compared to buying annual licenses. They also make great gifts for the fishing enthusiast in your life!

Fishing License Regulations and Resources

It’s essential to stay informed about the latest fishing regulations in Texas to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some valuable resources to help you stay up-to-date:

  • TPWD Outdoor Annual: This comprehensive guide covers all the rules and regulations for fishing, hunting, and boating in Texas.
  • TPWD Fishing Regulations: A dedicated section on the TPWD website that provides detailed information on fishing regulations, including license requirements, bag limits, and more.
  • TPWD Mobile Apps: The TPWD offers several mobile apps, including the Outdoor Annual app, which allows you to easily access fishing regulations and purchase licenses on the go.

By staying informed and following the regulations, you can help ensure the sustainability of Texas’ fishing resources for generations to come.

Key Takeaways

  • In Texas, a fishing license is required for ages 17 and up, with some exceptions for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and certain locations.
  • License options include freshwater, saltwater, and all-water packages at varying costs for residents and non-residents.
  • Licenses can be purchased online, by phone, or from retailers across the state.
  • Texas has reciprocal agreements allowing some fishing across borders in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
  • Lifetime licenses are available for residents who plan to fish long-term in Texas.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest regulations by consulting the TPWD website, Outdoor Annual, and mobile apps.

By understanding the fishing license requirements and options in Texas, you can ensure you’re properly licensed and able to legally enjoy the great angling opportunities across the state. So, grab your rod, check your license, and get ready to experience the thrill of fishing in the Lone Star State!

For more information on fishing licenses and regulations in other states, check out these helpful resources:

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