Ultimate Guide to Tennessee Fishing License Costs and Requirements (2024)

Fishing is a beloved pastime in Tennessee, with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams offering diverse angling experiences. However, before casting your line into the state’s waters, it’s crucial to understand the fishing license requirements. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about obtaining a fishing license in Tennessee, including who needs one, the different types available, costs, and how to purchase them.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, anyone aged 13 and older is required to have a valid fishing license to fish in public waters. This includes residents and non-residents alike. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • Residents born before March 1, 1926, are not required to have a fishing license.
  • Residents who are legally blind or developmentally disabled are exempt from the fishing license requirement.
  • Military personnel on leave do not need a license, but they must carry their orders while fishing.

Types of Tennessee Fishing Licenses

Tennessee offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different needs, including short-term permits, annual licenses, and lifetime sportsman licenses. Let’s explore each category in detail.

Short-term Fishing Licenses

If you don’t fish often or are only in Tennessee for a few days, short-term fishing licenses might be the best option for you.

One-day Fishing Licenses (Residents)

  • One-day Fishing (no trout): $6
  • One-day Fishing (all species): $11

Short-term Fishing Licenses (Non-residents)

  • Three-day Fishing (no trout): $20
  • Three-day Fishing (all species): $40
  • Ten-day Fishing (no trout): $30
  • Ten-day Fishing (all species): $61

Annual Fishing Licenses

For Tennessee residents or frequent visitors, an annual fishing license can be a more cost-effective option.

Annual Fishing Licenses (Residents)

  • Annual Hunting & Fishing Combination: $33
  • Annual Trout: $22
  • Annual Sportsman: $165
  • Annual Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap (ages 65+): $4
  • Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman (ages 65+): $49
  • Agency Lake – Annual Permit: $48

If you plan to fish for trout, you’ll need to purchase both the Annual Hunting & Fishing Combination and the Annual Trout licenses, totaling $55 per year.

The Annual Sportsman license is an all-inclusive option that covers hunting, trapping, and sport fishing without any additional state supplemental licenses or permits.

Annual Fishing Licenses (Non-residents)

  • Annual Fishing (no trout): $49
  • Annual Fishing (all species): $98

Lifetime Sportsman Licenses

For those who plan to fish in Tennessee for many years, a Lifetime Sportsman license can be a wise investment. These licenses cover hunting, trapping, and sport fishing without any additional state supplemental licenses or permits.

The cost of a Lifetime Sportsman license varies depending on your age:

  • Infant (Under 3 years): $320
  • Toddler (Ages 3–6): $659
  • Youth (Ages 7–12): $988
  • Adult (Ages 13–50): $1,976
  • Older Adult (Ages 51–64): $1,153
  • Senior (Ages 65 & over): $329

There is also an Adopted Child Lifetime license available for children under 13 adopted within the previous 3 years, costing $320.

Special Fishing Permits

In addition to the licenses mentioned above, you may need to purchase special permits to fish in certain bodies of water in Tennessee.

Gatlinburg Trout Permits

  • Gatlinburg Trout (Daily): $3
  • Gatlinburg Trout (3-Day): $9

Agency Lake Permits

  • Agency Lake (Daily): $6
  • Agency Lake (Annual): $48

Other Special Permits

  • Tellico-Citico Trout (Daily): $6
  • Bedford Lake (Daily): $6
  • South Holston Lake (Daily, Resident Only): $20

Holders of Annual Sportsman’s License, Lifetime Sportsman’s License, or Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman do not need to purchase these special permits.

How to Purchase a Tennessee Fishing License

Fishing licenses in Tennessee can be purchased online through the GoOutdoorsTennessee.com website or via the Go Outdoors Tennessee mobile app, available for both Apple and Android devices. The app allows you to store all your license and permit information on your phone while fishing.

If you prefer to purchase your license in person, you can visit the TWRA website and use their search function to find a local agent.

Additional Fishing Regulations

In addition to having a valid fishing license, anglers in Tennessee must also adhere to a number of fishing regulations. These regulations include limits on the number and size of fish that can be caught, as well as restrictions on the types of bait and tackle that can be used.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these regulations before heading out on your fishing trip to ensure compliance with the law. You can find the latest fishing regulations on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) website.


Obtaining a fishing license in Tennessee is a straightforward process that allows you to enjoy the state’s rich fishing heritage legally. By understanding the different types of licenses, costs, and requirements, you can choose the option that best suits your needs and budget.

Remember, fishing licenses not only ensure compliance with the law but also contribute to the conservation efforts that help maintain healthy fish populations for future generations to enjoy. So, whether you’re a resident or a visitor, make sure to get your Tennessee fishing license before casting your line into the state’s beautiful waters.

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