Your Guide to Getting a PA Fishing License

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Fishing is one of the greatest joys for many during the summer time. It’s a time to bond with kids and grandkids, friends or spouses, and it’s time to spend out in the beautiful nature we love but rarely spend time in.

But you have to have a license in any state in which you want to go fishing. So, whether you live in Pennsylvania or just plan to take a fishing trip there, you’ll need to get a PA fishing license.

This is your breakdown of what you need to know for getting one of those licenses.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License Anyway?

One of the many big questions people ask when it comes to fishing licenses is why they’re needed in the first place. It seems like a harmless enough thing to do – go out, drop a hook in the water, catch a couple of Bluegill and bring home dinner.

But fishing is a complicated industry that requires involvement from the government for a reason.

Back in the old days, people didn’t have licenses, and they just went out with their fishing poles and bait and caught up the trout and bass as much as they needed for food. They didn’t have to get a license and they didn’t hit any fishing limits. They just brought home whatever they wanted to from the day’s catch.

In those days, not so many people lived in the USA and Canada, so the fish were plentiful enough that regulations weren’t required.

Now, the American and Canadian populations have boomed, and the fish populations have decreased significantly, due to all that fishing without constraint over the past several centuries.

In the days prior to President Theodore Roosevelt, things like conservation weren’t a consideration. However, that president had the foresight to realize that our nation’s vast wildlife and natural resources weren’t going to last forever with the population growing exponentially as it had been doing already.

Ultimately, the concept of both fishing and hunting licenses is to protect and preserve our wildlife so that we don’t extinguish our species. These licenses limit the numbers of animals and fish that people may hunt or fish for and have been proven to protect the populations.

It might seem frustrating for some to limit their catch, but ultimately, even the angler who’d rather bring home hundreds of fish in the weekend benefits because there will surely be fish for him to bring home on the following weekends. Without the limits, our rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams would be empty by now.

The revenues from the licenses also help to fund conservation efforts, which also proves beneficial for the fisherman who wants to have safe, clean bodies of water from which to fish.

How to Go About Getting a PA Fishing License


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Getting a PA fishing license isn’t that difficult. There are a variety of locations at which to do so, and there are many places where you can read about the regulations and laws regarding the topic of fishing in the state of Pennsylvania.

Where to Get the License in Person

The first thing to know about getting a license in PA is that you can get the various licenses, stamps, and permits at any of the 1,300 official license-issuing agents and other locations. You go visit an actual agency office, the county treasurer’s offices, or the Fish and Boat Commission offices. You can also visit many sporting goods retailers – like Wal-Mart and K-Mart – to obtain a license or a number of hardware stores.

You can locate any of the license-issuing locations through a map created for that very purpose.

Where to Get the License Online

If you’re not feeling the real-life people interaction and the potentially long lines to accompany those crowds, you can purchase a fishing license online through the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Outdoor Shop.

Be aware that fishing licenses and permits purchased online may take up to ten days to arrive in the mail. Purchase well ahead of the time you wish to go fishing, just to make sure the license arrives on time.

Who Can Get a PA Fishing License?

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Actually, just about anyone can get a fishing license in Pennsylvania. The non-resident licenses are more expensive, however, so be aware of that fact.

To obtain a PA fishing license at the resident’s rate, you’ll need a valid form of identification that proves your residency. You can use a state-issued I.D., whether that’s a driver’s license or simply a state I.D.

Non-residents may also acquire a license but will not receive the lower rate.

Are There Any Discount Licenses Available?

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There are discount licenses for those who are over 65-years of age.

There are also discount licenses for those who serve or have served in the Armed Services Reserve or National Guard. There are discounts for disabled veterans and those capable of producing Prisoner of War identification documents.

There are also some distinct discounts and limited waivers for those currently serving in the military. To learn more about these exemptions and discounts, you’ll need to visit the website to read up on full options.

What Lengths and Types of Licenses are There?

There are a variety of license lengths that you can purchase.

Non-residents may purchase a one-day, three-day, or seven-day “tourist” license, or they may buy the annual non-resident license. Residents may purchase a one-day license or the annual license.

There are additional licenses as well that include the following.

  • Resident annual – 16 to 64 years old
  • Senior resident annual – 65 years and up
  • Senior resident lifetime – 65 years and up
  • 1-day resident – 16 and up, not valid between March 15 and April 30
  • Non-resident annual – 16 and up
  • 1-day tourist – 16 and up
  • 3-day tourist – 16 and up
  • 7-day tourist – 16 and up
  • Trout/Salmon permit – 16 and up
  • 1-year Trout/Salmon – 16 and up
  • 3-year senior lifetime Trout/Salmon – 65 and up
  • 10-year senior lifetime Trout/Salmon – 65 and up
  • Lake Erie permit – 16 and up
  • Combo Trout-Salmon/Lake Erie – 16 and up
  • Mentored youth permit – under 16
  • Voluntary youth fishing license, annual – under 16

You may also purchase some of these licenses in different lengths than those listed.

To learn about current pricing for any of these licenses or permits, please check the official site or the location where you plan to purchase the license.

Tips for Fishing in PA

Before you hit the rivers and lakes of Pennsylvania, consider these tips for your safety and for fewer hassles.

Display Your License

Fish for Free Days

Fishing with Minors

Fishing on Your Own Private Land

Getting Your License Isn’t Hard

Before you go fishing in Pennsylvania, you’ll need the proper license.

Check out the government websites to verify the type of license you need, check the prices to determine which one best suits your finances, and then look for the right location for you.

You can purchase your license online as well, just be sure to give yourself a couple of weeks’ lead time before the big fishing trip.

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