Fishing in Idaho: A Guide to Nonresident Licenses and Regulations

Idaho is a top destination for anglers across the United States thanks to its wealth of rivers, lakes, and streams teeming with trout, bass, salmon, and steelhead. But before reeling in that trophy catch, all nonresidents ages 14 and over must obtain the proper out-of-state fishing license in compliance with regulations set by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. This guide covers everything you need to know as a visitor planning a fishing trip to this scenic state.

Overview of Nonresident License Options and Fees

There are several license options available based on the intended length and location of your stay. The fees for nonresident licenses are considerably higher than resident rates in order support Idaho’s fish conservation efforts.

Annual License

  • Valid for 365 days from purchase date
  • Covers fishing statewide
  • Fee: $108

3-Year License

  • Valid for 3 years from purchase date
  • Covers fishing statewide
  • Fee: $320.50

Daily License

  • Valid only on date of purchase
  • Covers fishing statewide
  • Fee: $22.75

2-Pole Permit

  • Allows use of a second pole/line when fishing
  • Added fee: $14.75

Salmon/Steelhead Permit

  • Required for salmon/steelhead fishing
  • Added fee: $15.75

All fees are subject to change year to year. Up-to-date rates can be found on the Idaho Fish and Game license page.

Purchasing Your Nonresident Fishing License

Nonresident licenses can be conveniently obtained through several official channels:

  • Online: Purchase through Fish and Game’s online licensing system any time day or night. Allow 48 hours for delivery.
  • By phone: Call 1-800-554-8685. Normal business hours apply.
  • In person: Visit an official vendor location such as sporting goods stores, bait & tackle shops, or Fish and Game regional offices. Cash or check only for in-person purchases.
  • Mobile app: Download the GoOutdoors Idaho app available on Apple and Android devices. Data fees may apply.

No matter how obtained, be sure to carry your license documentation on you at all times when fishing as conservation officers do conduct license checks in the field.

Idaho Fishing Seasons, Limits and Regulations

In addition to a valid nonresident fishing license, all anglers in Idaho must adhere to seasons, limits, and tackle regulations enforced by zone and water body.

Seasonal Closures

Certain water bodies have seasonal closures in place to protect fish during spawning periods. These include:

  • Salmon/steelhead: Closed April 1 – June 30 on Snake River tributaries like the Salmon River drainage, Clearwater River drainage, and other select waters. Check regulations by zone here.
  • Bass: Closed March 1 – June 20 on portion of Snake River between Hells Canyon Dam and Oxbow Dam as well as Brownlee Reservoir.

Daily Limits

Idaho enforces take and possession limits on popular sport fish including:

  • Trout: No more than 6 per day, 12 in possession
  • Bass: No more than 6 per day (only 2 over 15″), 12 in possession
  • Salmon: 2 per day (only 1 adult), 4 in possession
  • Steelhead: 2 per day, 4 in possession

Get specific limits by zone and exceptions here.

Tackle and Methods

Fishing tackle and techniques are restricted by water body and species. Examples include:

  • Barbless hooks: Required when fishing for salmon, steelhead and bull trout.
  • No live fish as bait: Policy for salmon, steelhead, bass. Dead bait allowed.
  • Single-pointed barbed hooks: Only type allowed for flathead catfish.
  • No snagging: Technique illegal for all species. Intentional snagging/foul hooking enforceable by law.

This is not an exhaustive list. Know the fishing methods rules for your destination waters before heading out.

Purchasing Your Nonresident Fishing License

All nonresident anglers should also be aware of the following catch and compliance regulations when fishing Idaho’s waters:

Youth and Disabled Licenses

  • Children under 14 years can fish without a license if they are Idaho residents.
  • Nonresident youth under 14 must fish with a licensed adult and their catch applies to the adult’s possession limit.
  • Those with a permanent disability may qualify for reduced rate or free licenses. Check license options for details on required documentation.

Catch and Keep Regulations

  • It is illegal to waste game fish – make an effort to retrieve and keep fish that are hooked.
  • Barbless hooks are required in some waters to make catch and release easier on fish.
  • Floy tagging may be required for salmon, steelhead and bull trout in certain zones. Tags must be affixed immediately upon retaining fish.

Boating Regulations

  • A valid Idaho invasive species sticker is required on all motorized boats and vessels using state waterways except the Snake River. Get yours here.
  • Inflatable devices like float tubes and pontoon boats are restricted on some rivers. Check regulations.
  • Safety items like life jackets (PFDs) must be carried on boats for each passenger following U.S. Coast Guard standards.

Out-of-State Transport

You may transport your catch out-of-state if:

  • You have not exceeded daily limits for the species.
  • The fish is processed or frozen (all internal organs removed).
  • You have a valid fish transportation permit if required for species like salmon and steelhead.

Know the transport and export rules for the waters you are fishing.

Additional Idaho Fishing Resources

This overview covers the key points for nonresidents planning an Idaho fishing trip, but regulations can vary greatly by species, water body and region. Be sure to utilize the following resources when preparing:

  • Idaho Fish Planner: IFS’s interactive map tool details seasons, limits, rules, closures and more by zone/water body.
  • Regional Offices: IFS’s six regional offices offer info on local fishing spots, access points, ramps and conditions. Contact yours for insider info.
  • Go Outdoors Idaho App: Download the official mobile app for licenses, rules, and lake/river data at your fingertips.
  • Idaho Fish and Game Website: Official site is the comprehensive resource for all fishing, boating, licensing and conservation info statewide.

Stay compliant with regulations and come prepared with bait, tackle and know-how for the water you are visiting for an epic yet sustainable Idaho fishing adventure!

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