How to Get a Pennsylvania Fishing License

Anyone 16 and Older Must Have License

Teenage boy fishing.
••• Getty Images / Driendl Group

One of the great joys of summer for many is fishing. And if you're in Pennsylvania, you have plenty of choices of places to go and get out that fishing rod and tackle, jump in a boat or find a good spot on the bank and while away those sweet summertime hours waiting for the big one to bite. Even if you fail to catch even one fish, the time under a sunny sky with a soft breeze blowing is, well, what it's really all about, and especially with a fine companion.

Except for a few select "Fish for Free" days, anyone age 16 and over must have a current Pennsylvania fishing license to fish or angle for any species of fish in Pennsylvania. This applies to both residents and non-residents. Getting a license is easy and just takes about a half an hour. 

How to Get a Pennsylvania Fishing License

  • A Pennsylvania fishing license, including stamps and permits, can be purchased at one of more than 1,300 official license issuing agents, county treasurer offices, and Fish & Boat Commission offices in the state of Pennsylvania. This includes most major sporting goods retailers and many Walmart, K-Mart, and hardware stores.
  • You can also purchase a Pennsylvania fishing license online at the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Outdoor Shop.
  • Resident fishing licenses are much less expensive in Pennsylvania than nonresident licenses. Positive proof of legal residency, usually a valid Pennsylvania drivers license, will be required by the issuing agent when purchasing a resident fishing license.
  • Discount fishing licenses are available to residents of Pennsylvania who are age 65 and over or members of the National Guard or Armed Services Reserve.
  • If you're planning to fish in Pennsylvania for only a few days, Pennsylvania offers one-, three- and seven-day tourist licenses for non-residents and a one-day resident license.
  • If you're fishing for trout or salmon in Pennsylvania waters, you will also have to buy a special Trout/salmon stamp. The rule also applies if you fish in designated trout streams or rivers during trout season, even if you don't plan to catch any trout.
  • A special Lake Erie permit is required for anyone who fishes in or on the Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay, and their tributaries. You can also buy a combo Trout-Salmon/Lake Erie permit.

Tips

  • Display your Pennsylvania fishing license at all times when fishing in the state and carry another positive means of identification with you.
  • Pennsylvania " Fish for Free" days are scheduled on two separate days each year. You don't need a Pennsylvania fishing license to fish on "fish for free" days.
  • An adult does not need a fishing license to take a child under the age of 16 fishing, providing the adult isn't aren't fishing himself and is only assisting the child by casting or retrieving a fishing line or baiting the hook.
  • You can fish on your own private land without a Pennsylvania fishing license, but this exemption does not apply to guests and employees.