How to Get A North Carolina Fishing License

How to Get A Fishing License in North Carolina
Courtesy of Visit Lake Norman

The Charlotte area may not be known as a fishing hotspot, but there are plenty of great fishing spots around - from Lake Norman to Lake Wylie to the Catawba River to Lake Lure. But to fish in North Carolina, you will need a fishing license. The good news is, it's easy and affordable to get one. Here's everything you'll need to know about getting a fishing license in North Carolina.

Who Needs a License to Fish in North Carolina?

For the most part, anyone over the age of 16 will need a license. There are some exceptions though (see the full list below).

North Carolina Fishing License Cost

Short Term (10 days) fishing license:

  • Inland fishing - $5
  • Coastal Fishing - $5

Annual fishing license:

  • Statewide inland (basic) - $15
  • Statewide coastal - $15

There are several other specialized types of fishing licenses and even a lifetime fishing license available. You can check those out here. But for basic fisherman, this is what you'll need:

Special free licenses:

The following people must have a license, but there is no charge for it.

  • People who are legally blind
  • Residents who live in an adult care home
  • Residents who receive any of the following: Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Work First Family Assistance

How to Purchase a North Carolina Fishing License

  • Online using a VISA or MasterCard. Printer recommended.
  • By telephone at 888-248-6834, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • In person, at a wildlife service agent.

North Carolina Fishing License Exceptions

Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and a fishing license in North Carolina is the same. Here's who is EXEMPT from needing a fishing license:

  • Persons who are under age 16 don't need a basic inland fishing and trout privilege license.
  • A game lands license is not required to fish in any waters on game lands or Wildlife Conservation Areas.
  • An inland fishing license is not required to fish in a private pond. Note that a pond or lake located on land owned by a public body, like a state supported university or a governmental building is not a private pond.
  • July 4th is “free fishing day” each year and a fishing license and trout privilege license are not required in any public waters
  • Residents with a valid Unified Subsistence Inland/Coastal Recreation Fishing License Waiver are exempt from requirement of a basic inland or coastal recreational fishing license.
  • A landowner or person leasing land primarily for cultivation, their spouse, and dependents under 18 residing with them, may hunt, trap and fish on such land without a license.
  • A resident of North Carolina state who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States serving outside the state, or who is on full-time military duty outside the state in a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States is exempt from hunting, inland and coastal fishing license requirements while on leave in this state for 30 days or less. Those who qualify for this exemption shall carry on his or her person at all times, during the hunting or fishing activity, their military identification card and a copy of the official document confirming they are on authorized leave from a duty station outside of North Carolina.

    Now that you have your fishing license, you'll need to know what you're looking for! Wondering what type of fish you'll find in lakes around Charlotte?