Louisiana Fishing License Types: Which One Do You Need?

Louisiana, aptly nicknamed the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” is renowned as one of the top fishing destinations in the United States. With its abundant coastlines, lush swamps, and diverse waterways, the state offers anglers an unparalleled variety of fishing opportunities. However, before you can legally cast your line and reel in your catch, it’s crucial to obtain the appropriate fishing license. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) oversees the state’s fishing regulations and license system, ensuring the conservation and sustainable enjoyment of Louisiana’s rich aquatic resources.

Understanding Louisiana’s Fishing License System

Louisiana’s fishing license system is divided into two main categories: freshwater and saltwater. The state has established a “saltwater line” that separates these two zones, running along the Intracoastal Waterway. Anglers fishing north of this line in freshwater areas require a Basic Fishing License, while those fishing south of the line for saltwater species need both a Basic Fishing License and a Saltwater Fishing License. It’s essential to understand this distinction to ensure you have the proper licenses for your intended fishing location and target species.

Types of Louisiana Fishing Licenses

Basic Fishing License

The Basic Fishing License is mandatory for anglers 16 years and older who wish to fish in Louisiana’s freshwater areas. This license covers the use of common fishing gear such as rod and reel, bow and arrow, and cast nets with a radius not exceeding 8 feet 6 inches. The cost of a Basic Fishing License varies based on residency status, with residents paying $17 and non-residents paying $68 for the 2022-2023 season.

Saltwater Fishing License

If you plan to fish south of the saltwater line for saltwater species, you must purchase a Saltwater Fishing License in addition to the Basic Fishing License. This license is required for the use of saltwater fishing gear like crab traps and trawls. Residents can obtain a Saltwater Fishing License for $15, while non-residents pay $60 for the 2022-2023 season. It’s important to note that even if you only intend to fish in saltwater areas, you still need to purchase the Basic Fishing License as a prerequisite.

Charter Passenger Licenses

For anglers who plan to fish with licensed charter operators, Louisiana offers short-term Charter Passenger Licenses. The Saltwater Charter Passenger License, valid for three consecutive days, costs $20, while the Freshwater Charter Passenger License, also valid for three days, costs $10. These licenses provide an affordable option for visitors and occasional anglers who want to experience Louisiana’s renowned fishing under the guidance of professional charter captains.

Hook and Line License

Louisiana residents have access to a low-cost Hook and Line License, also known as the cane pole license. This license, priced at $5, covers the use of poles, hooks, and lines without artificial bait. However, it’s important to note that this option is not available for non-residents. The Hook and Line License is ideal for residents who prefer basic fishing methods and want a more affordable alternative to the Basic Fishing License.

Lifetime Licenses

For dedicated anglers who plan to fish in Louisiana for years to come, the state offers Lifetime Licenses. These licenses are a one-time purchase that covers fishing privileges for the holder’s lifetime, including both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The cost of a Lifetime License varies based on the age of the applicant, with different pricing tiers for residents. While the upfront cost may seem substantial, a Lifetime License can provide significant long-term savings for frequent anglers.

Determining Which License You Need

When deciding which Louisiana fishing license to purchase, consider factors such as your residency status, age, intended fishing location, and the duration of your fishing activities. If you’re a resident who primarily fishes in freshwater areas, a Basic Fishing License may suffice. However, if you plan to fish in saltwater or target saltwater species, you’ll need to add a Saltwater Fishing License to your Basic Fishing License.

Assess the cost-effectiveness of your license options based on the frequency of your fishing trips. If you’re a visitor or only fish occasionally, a short-term Charter Passenger License might be the most economical choice. On the other hand, if you’re a resident who fishes regularly, investing in an annual or Lifetime License could provide better value in the long run.

To help determine the most suitable license for your needs, review the LDWF’s online resources, including their comprehensive licensing information and frequently asked questions. You can also consult with local tackle shops or fishing guides, who can offer valuable insights based on your specific fishing plans and preferences.

Exceptions and Special Provisions

Louisiana’s fishing license requirements include some exceptions and special provisions. Youth under the age of 16 are exempt from needing a fishing license. Additionally, residents born before June 1, 1940, who have lived in Louisiana for at least six months, may qualify for a license exemption but must carry proof of age.

The state also offers discounted licenses for certain groups, including active military personnel, students enrolled in Louisiana schools, and individuals with disabilities. These discounts aim to make fishing more accessible and affordable for those who meet the eligibility criteria.

How to Obtain a Louisiana Fishing License

Obtaining a Louisiana fishing license is a straightforward process with multiple options available. The most convenient method is to purchase your license online through the LDWF’s official website. The online system allows you to buy licenses 24/7 and print them immediately for use.

Alternatively, you can visit one of the LDWF’s offices or authorized license vendors in person. These vendors include sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and some convenience stores throughout the state. When purchasing your license in person, be prepared to provide necessary documentation, such as proof of age, residency, or eligibility for special discounts.

Regardless of how you obtain your license, always carry proof of your valid fishing license when fishing in Louisiana waters. This can be a printed copy of your license, a digital copy stored on your mobile device, or your original license document.

Read More: How to Get Your Louisiana Fishing License?


Selecting the appropriate Louisiana fishing license is essential for ensuring a legal and enjoyable angling experience in the Sportsman’s Paradise. By understanding the state’s license system, the various types of licenses available, and the factors to consider when choosing your license, you can confidently embark on your fishing adventures while supporting conservation efforts and complying with regulations.

Before hitting the water, take the time to review the LDWF’s fishing regulations, familiarize yourself with any special provisions that may apply to your situation, and obtain the necessary licenses for your intended fishing activities. With the right license in hand, you’re ready to explore Louisiana’s diverse fishing opportunities, from the freshwater lakes and rivers to the productive saltwater marshes and coastal waters.

As you enjoy the state’s abundant aquatic resources, remember to practice responsible fishing habits, adhere to bag and size limits, and support the conservation of Louisiana’s fisheries for generations to come.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top