This site is privately owned and is neither affiliated with, nor endorsed by, nor operated by a government agency.

California commercial fishing licenses are used for different purposes than recreational fishing licenses. Anglers who plan on catching fish in state waters for the purpose of selling their catch to the general public must possess a commercial fishing license before doing so. Commercial fishing licenses are regulated and issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to residents and non residents of the state in order to keep track of the amount of fish being caught commercially and maintain the state's ecology. However, prior to buying commercial fishing licenses, anglers should first become familiar with the types of commercial fishing license options available.

For example, the CA wildlife department offers various fishing permits that allow individuals to catch aquatic wildlife such as bay shrimp and anchovies. Other fishing permits allow anglers access to restricted fishing areas located throughout the state. Individuals planning on fishing commercially should take some time to figure out the best commercial fishing permit for their purposes before completing the fishing license application process. Aside from the various specialty commercial fishing stamps, there is also another important distinction regarding commercial fishing licenses: the applicant's residency status. Though most residential commercial fishing licenses and non resident commercial fishing licenses afford holders the same privileges, residents often receive a discounted rate on their fishing licenses in comparison with non residents. Factors that further differentiate commercial fishing licenses by fee rate include the type of fish the applicant plans on catching. Certain species are highly valued in the state, which can cause high rates for fishing permits to catch the species. Commercial fishing in California is welcomed by the state wildlife department, which is why the application process is fairly simple. To buy commercial fishing licenses, complete a commercial fishing license application and present it to a state wildlife official. During this process, residents applying for the discounted commercial fishing license must present proof of their residency. Additionally, all applicants must provide proof of identity. Both proof of identity and proof of residency can be provided with a state-issued ID card or driver's license. For more information on the various types of California commercial fishing licenses, how to get a CA commercial fishing license and other relevant information, read the sections outlined below.


What is the difference between a resident and non-resident California commercial fishing license?

Both recreational and commercial fishing licensesare primarily categorized by the applicant's residency status. Though residents and non residents both enjoy the same privileges upon buying recreational fishing licenses in the state, each applicant must pay a different fee for their respective license type. Residents of California are offered discounted rates for recreational fishing licenses compared to non residents. However, this is not the case with commercial fishing licenses. As commercial fishing license fees are mostly determined by the type of fish an angler plans on catching, commercial fishing licenses for both residents and non residents are priced the same. Regardless, applicants must still present proof of identity documents during the commercial fishing license application process. Documents that satisfy proof of identity requirements include state-issued ID cards and driver's licenses.

How do I obtain a California commercial fishing license?

Anglers planning on buying commercial fishing licenses in California can do so by completing a simple fishing license application. The CA commercial fishing license application (also known as the Commercial Fishing License California Worksheet) is available from the state wildlife department. On the form, applicants must provide certain types of personal information such as their name, date of birth, address and Social Security Number. Applicants must also indicate which type of commercial fishing license they desire, as well as the form of payment they will be using to pay the commercial fishing license fees.

Fees may be paid with a check, credit card or money order. During the application process anglers must provide wildlife officials with proof of identity. Documents that satisfy proof of identity requirements include state-issued ID cards, driver's licenses or U.S. birth certificates.

How do I replace a California commercial fishing license?

Anglers who have lost their commercial fishing license credentials can order a replacement license to fish through the state wildlife department. To complete a replacement fishing license application, visit a local department licensing sales office and pay the associated commercial fishing license replacement fee. From there, the department will issue a replacement. In the event that the originalfishing license is found, dispose of it or return it to a state wildlife office.

What is considered a commercial fish in California?

Anglers can catch a variety of fish species native to California with a commercial fishing license. Commercial fish species located in the state include: mussels, grunion, shrimp, barracuda, marlin, skate and more. Certain protected and/or highly valued fish species are regulated by the state wildlife department. To catch fish in these categories, anglers must purchase special fishing permits and fishing tags that vary in price depending on the fish. Protected fish species are only allowed to be caught for experimental purposes, with express and regulated permission from the wildlife department. Examples of fish that fall under this particular umbrella include bay shrimp, ghost shrimp and crayfish.

Are there any fish that cannot be taken with a California commercial fishing license?

Various fish species can be taken for commercial purposes in the state of California, including mussels, grunion, shrimp, barracuda, marlin, skate and more. Furthermore, you may have to get special fishing tags or permits, depending on the type of fish you are seeking. Bay shrimp, ghost shrimp and crayfish all fall under this umbrella. You can take a look at the complete list by visiting the CA Commercial Digest.

Are there any fish that cannot be taken with a commercial fishing license?

Though California is home to numerous fish species that anglers with commercial fishing licenses can catch, a number of fish species are protected by the local wildlife department. Protected species in the state are regulated for their own safety. Therefore, anglers are not allowed to remove these fish from state waters, regardless of whether or not they possess a commercial fishing license. A few California fish species that are included on the protected species list include: abalone, scallops, sharks and pismo clams, among other fish species.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
This site is privately owned and is neither affiliated with, nor endorsed by, nor operated by a government agency.