License Information

Fishing Regulations California Freshwater Fishing


A resident is defined as: any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or any person on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States, or an auxiliary branch, or a Job Corps enrollee. (FGC, Section 65)

License Provisions

Any person who is 16 years of age or older must have a sport fishing license to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate, amphibian or crustacean in California, except when taken from a public pier in ocean or bay waters. A sport fishing license is required to take reptiles, except for rattlesnakes. Anyone 16 years or older fishing anywhere in Lake Tahoe or Topaz Lake must possess either a California sport fishing license or a Nevada sport fishing license (Nevada also requires a trout stamp). Any person fishing from either side of the river or from a boat in the section of the Colorado River that makes up the California-Arizona border must have either a California sport fishing license or an Arizona sport fishing license.


Any person applying for any license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement issued via the ALDS shall provide valid identification. Acceptable forms of identification include:

(1) Any license document or GO ID number previously issued via ALDS

(2) A valid driver’s license or identification card issued to him or her by the Department of Motor Vehicles or by the entity issuing driver’s licenses from the licensee’s state of domicile

(3) US Birth Certificate

(4) US Certificate or Report of Birth Abroad

(5) A Tribal ldentification Card, issued by a sovereign tribal nation

(6) Birth Certificate or passport issued from a US Territory

(7) US Passport

(8) US Military ldentification

(9) Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship,

(10) A foreign government-issued photo identification

Applicants less than 18 years of age may provide any form of identification described above, or a parent or legal guardian’s identification as described above.

Telephone Number Required for Angler Surveys

Anglers are required to provide their telephone number when purchasing a sport fishing license. Collection of telephone numbers allows California to comply with a federal mandate for purposes of establishing a National Saltwater Angler Registry and will prevent California anglers from having to pay an additional registration fee each year to the federal government. (CCR T-14, Section 700.3)

License Formats

Licenses issued through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) are printed on durable thermal paper. They are waterproof, stainproof and tear resistant. All licenses are imprinted with your permanent ID number (GO ID). Your GO ID can be used to retrieve your customer information in the future.

Report cards issued through ALDS have a different look and size. All the information is printed on one side of the paper, so report cards can be quite long. They can be folded to fit in your wallet. You must use indelible ink to make entries on your report card.

Protect Your License from Heat

Licenses subjected to extreme or prolonged heat may darken and become difficult to read. To protect your license, keep it away from heat sources.

Purchasing a License for Another Person

Regulations provide that a person may purchase a hunting or sport fishing license, tags, or validations for another person, as long as the licensee’s customer identification number issued from the ALDS and date of birth are provided. If a person wishes to purchase a sport fishing license for another person but does not have the required information, a gift voucher may be purchased for that person that may be redeemed for a resident sport fishing license. Gift vouchers are nonrefundable and valid only for the year specified. (CCR T-14, Section 705)

Report Card Requirements

Anglers who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as anglers who are under 16 years of age and anglers who will be fishing on Free Fishing Days, are required to have report cards to fish for: salmon in the Klamath, Trinity and Smith rivers and their tributaries; steelhead; and sturgeon statewide.

Return of Report Cards is Mandatory

Report cards must be reported online at wildlife.ca.gov/reportcards or returned to the
CDFW at the address specified on the report card by January 31 of the following year. Any person who fails to report online or return his or her report card to the CDFW by the deadline may be restricted from obtaining the same card in a subsequent license year or may be subject to an additional fee for the issuance of the same card in a subsequent license year. (CCR T-14, Section 1.74)

A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required for any person fishing for salmon in the Klamath, Trinity and Smith Rivers or their tributaries.

A Steelhead Report Card is required for any person fishing for steelhead trout in all anadromous waters where take is authorized.

A Sturgeon Fishing Report Card is required for any person fishing for sturgeon.


Anglers in possession of a Second-Rod Validation and anglers who are under 16 years of age may fish with two rods in inland waters, except for waters where artificial lures or barbless hooks are required. No more than one rod may be used in those waters in which only artificial lures or barbless hooks may be used.

Possession of License

Every person, while engaged in taking any fish, amphibian or reptile, shall have a valid sport fishing license on their person in their immediate possession except when diving as provided in Section 7145 of the Fish and Game Code. (CCR T-14, Section 700)

Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards of shore, respectively. (FGC, Section 7145)

Duplicate Sport Fishing Licenses

If you lose your sport fishing license and validations, visit any license agent, CDFW License Sales Office or log in to the license sales service at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales to obtain a low-cost duplicate and validations. Duplicate Abalone Report Cards and Sturgeon Report Cards may only be purchased at CDFW license sales offices.

Refund Policy

Refunds will not be issued for sport fishing licenses, vouchers, validations or report cards.


CDFW offers reduced-fee sport fishing licenses to honorably-discharged veterans with a service-connected disability rating of at least 50 percent, to recovering service members, and to resident low-income seniors who are at least 65 years of age.

The term ‘‘recovering service member’’ means a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or a Reserve, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy and is in an outpatient status while recovering from a serious injury or illness related to the member’s military service. (FGC, Section 7150)

Disabled veterans and recovering service members can prequalify for reduced-fee sport fishing licenses via e-mail. To prequalify, e-mail your CDFW issued GO ID and a letter from the Veteran’s Administration documenting your service connected disability rating of 50% or greater to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov. After your customer record has been updated, you will be able to purchase a reduced-fee fishing license anywhere licenses are sold.

Free sport fishing licenses are available to eligible persons who are blind; low-income American Indians; developmentally disabled persons, and residents who are so severely physically disabled that they are permanently unable to move from place to place without the use of a wheelchair, walker, forearm crutches, or a comparable mobility-related device.

Eligibility for free and reduced-fee sport fishing licenses will be verified. Applications and additional information are available and online at

License Sales By Telephone

Sport fishing licenses, validations, and report cards may be purchased via telephone from Active Network’s telephone license sales line at (800) 565-1458. Items purchased by telephone sales will be delivered by mail within 15 days of purchase.