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Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses
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Getting a proper Pennsylvania fishing license is required if you plan on fishing in state waters. Anglers found to be removing wildlife from public waters without a valid, unexpired license to fish will be subject to various penalties and fines. To avoid punishment, anglers in Pennsylvania should become familiar with the various fishing license application guidelines. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers two main fishing license options to both residents and non residents, including recreational fishing licenses and commercial fishing licenses. Aside from the two main categories of fishing licenses, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also offers other options to anglers in the state. Recreational fishing licenses include special permits for disabled veterans, military members, seniors, residents of PA and non residents. Other factors that further categorize fishing licenses include the applicant’s age, the length of the license’s validity and the type of fish being caught. Anglers who would like to get a commercial fishing license can choose between a few options, including the guide license, the charter boat license and permits for certain types of commercial take methods. Certain permits are also available to applicants at discounted rates. Certain groups of individuals, such as permanently disabled fishermen, do not have to apply for documents. These exempt groups are allowed to fish free of charge in any state-sanctioned fishing area. To find out more about the different types of fishing licenses in Pennsylvania and their various application processes, take a look at the details in the sections below:

  • New recreational fishing licenses
  • Pennsylvania commercial fishing licenses

New Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses

Anglers planning on buying a fishing license in Pennsylvania should first familiarize themselves with the various types of recreational fishing licenses available. Though there is limited access to saltwater fishing locations, such as in the adjacent part of the Delaware River, Pennsylvania is not a coastal state and does not have opportunities for coastal saltwater fishing within state borders. Therefore, recreational Pennsylvania anglers are only given one option when buying fishing licenses through the Fish and Boat Commission.

To complete the fishing license application process in Pennsylvania, anglers must apply through the Fish and Boat Commission online, by mail or in person. To buy fishing licenses online, log on to the Fish and Boat Commission website. Once the application is complete, provide a valid credit card number to pay the appropriate fee. To buy fishing licenses by mail, download the appropriate fishing permit application and send it in to the address listed at the top of the form. To buy fishing licenses in person, visit one of nearly 900 authorized license agent offices in PA and the surrounding states.

When getting fishing licenses in Pennsylvania, fees will vary based on factors such as the applicant’s residency, age and the length of the prospective license’s validity.

Pennsylvania Commercial Fishing Licenses

Commercial fishing licenses must be obtained by anglers who plan on using their fishing expertise to earn money in Pennsylvania. Anglers buying commercial fishing licenses must follow specific application methods established by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.  Typically, for commercial credentials, anglers must visit the Fish and Boat Commission website, download the commercial fishing license application for the desired permit, complete the application in its entirety, and then submit it to the following address:

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Charter Boat/Fishing Guide Program
P.O. Box 68900
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8900

The process applies to all anglers planning on buying charter boat commercial fishing permits or other commercial fishing guide licenses. Prospective fishermen applying for specific commercial netting permits can also obtain licenses through this process.

Regardless of which permit an angler is applying for, there are fees associated with buying a commercial fishing license. Commercial fishing license fees are dependent on the desired type of permit and the applicant’s residency status at the time of application. As with recreational fishing permits, residents of Pennsylvania can buy commercial fishing licenses at a reduced rate in comparison with non residents of the state.

Note: Fishing guide and charter boat permits and decals must always be displayed while the holder is engaging in commercial fishing practices. Failure to display the proper credentials is a violation of state commercial fishing laws and can result in fines and other penalties assessed by the Fish and Boat Commission.

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.
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