How to Get Your Louisiana Fishing License?

As I sit here spooling up my reel, I can’t help but think back on all the seasons I’ve spent chasing fish. From the icy rivers of my home state to the warm gulf waters of the Louisiana coast, I’ve been hooked on fishing since I was just a young tadpole. And over the decades, I’ve learned that no matter where you drop your line, having the proper fishing license is key.

So let this old salt walk you through getting set up to legally fish the Sportsman’s Paradise that is Louisiana. I may meander a bit, like a lure bouncing along the bottom, but that’s my way. Just sit back and take in the scenery as I reel you in on all things related to Louisiana fishing licenses.

Why do I need a license to fish in Louisiana?

I know some of you young bucks are probably wondering why you need to pay the man just to try your luck on the water. Let me tell you, those license fees go directly toward protecting and preserving our freedom to fish.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries uses that money to keep a sharp eye on fish populations. They study the health of species like speckled trout, redfish, and flounder to set appropriate size and catch limits. This ensures our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy the same bounty we do today.

Licensing fees also support fish stocking programs. Millions of spotted seatrout, red drum, and other fish raised in LDWF hatcheries get released every year. So when you buy a license, think of it as investing in the future of fishing!

What type of license do I need?

Louisiana offers a few different recreational fishing licenses depending on where you’ll be casting your line:

Basic Fishing License: This covers you for freshwater fishing statewide. If you’ll be chasing largemouth bass in Toledo Bend or casting for crappie on the Red River, this is the license you need.

Saltwater License: If you want to fish in public saltwater areas like beaches, marshes, rivers, and bays, you need this in addition to the basic freshwater license. So, for example, to fish for speckled trout on Calcasieu Lake or go after bull reds in the Mississippi River delta, you need both licenses.

Charter Passenger License: If you hit up a guide and book a trip on a charter boat, you can buy this one-day license instead of the annual ones. It allows you to fish recreationally on the charter only.

What other permits do I need?

In addition to your fishing license, there are some special permits required for certain species and activities.

Recreational Shrimp Permit: To cast nets or use other legal gear to catch shrimp recreationally, you need this free permit from LDWF.

Recreational Crawfish Trap Tags: Before you can run crawfish traps recreationally, you must get free trap tags issued in your name. There is a limit of 35 tags per person.

Recreational Oyster Harvest Tags: To take oysters for personal use, you must first get recreational oyster tags. There is a daily limit of 2 sacks per person.

Bowfishing Permit: As of 2023, you must have this free permit to participate in recreational bowfishing. It covers both private fishing and chartered bowfishing trips.

So check on those specialty permits before chasing any shellfish or scaling fish with an arrow!

What Are the Age Requirements?

If you were born after June 1, 1984, you are required to pass an approved hunter education course before buying your first Louisiana hunting or fishing license. However, if you are only fishing recreationally, you just need to show proof you completed the course.

As far as license requirements go:

  • Children under 16 do not need a fishing license.
  • 16-59 year olds need appropriate licenses to fish recreationally.
  • Seniors 60+ can buy a special Senior Hunt/Fish License.

So once you pass that sweet 16 milestone, be sure to pick up a license before your next fishing trip. The man will be checking!

How Much Does a Louisiana Fishing License Cost?

License fees in Louisiana are very reasonable compared to other states. As of 2024, here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • Basic Annual Fishing License – LA Resident: $17
  • Basic Annual Fishing License – Non-Resident: $68
  • Saltwater Fishing License – LA Resident: $15
  • Saltwater Fishing License – Non-Resident: $60

They also offer some discounted rates for Louisiana seniors, students, military members, and disabled residents. Check the LDWF site for details on eligibility.

And that Charter Passenger License I mentioned earlier runs just $5 per day. A steal to get out on the water if you ask me!

Where Can I Buy My Louisiana Fishing License?

The easiest way is to just purchase your license online through the LDWF website. It only takes a few minutes to complete the application and you can pay with a credit card. They’ll email you a PDF of your license to print out or save on your phone.

You can also grab licenses in person at LDWF field offices, most major sporting goods stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, or from local marinas and bait shops around the state.

I prefer handling business from the comfort of my lawn chair, but to each their own. Find what works to get you on the water quicker!

Do Other States Honor My License?

One of the great things about a Louisiana fishing license is reciprocity with our neighboring states.

Your Louisiana resident fishing license allows you to legally fish public freshwaters on the Texas side of Toledo Bend Reservoir, the Mississippi side of Lake Providence, and the Arkansas side of Lake Bistineau.

Just be sure to know the specific state regulations for those reciprocal water bodies. And pack your valid Louisiana fishing license to keep things kosher with the game wardens on either side of the borders.

Any Special Regulations I Should Know?

I could jaw all day about Louisiana’s fishing regulations, size limits, and bag restrictions. But I don’t aim to see your eyes glaze over before that first cast!

I’ll just say that LDWF manages certain species very carefully to maintain healthy populations. You can only keep redfish and speckled trout that measure within a protected slot limit, for example. And there are strict daily catch limits on the number you can harvest.

So take the time to read those fishing regulations. You can pick up a pamphlet anywhere they sell licenses or refer to the LDWF website. Consider keeping a regulations app like Fish Rules on your phone too.

I’ve seen too many hopeful anglers get slapped with a fine for not knowing the rules. And no one enjoys having their catch confiscated, trust me on that!

Time to Go Fishing!

Well if you made it this far then hopefully you’re all squared up to chase after Louisiana’s lunkers.

As you explore all the Sportsman’s Paradise has to offer, try to remember us old-timers who paved the way. And when you catch that wallhanger redfish or hefty speckled trout, pause to give thanks for healthy fisheries made possible by conservation funding.

Most of all, enjoy making memories out there on the water with friends and family. That’s what it’s all about after all these years. The rest fades away like ripples on the surface after a perfect cast.

Now let’s wet some lines! I’ll meet you out there, my lucky hat perched atop sun-weathered skin that reflects a life spent in pursuit of the tug. Can’t wait to hear your fishing tales as we trade lies and truths until the ice chest runs over.

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