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West Virginia Fishing Licenses
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West Virginia fishing licenses are required for all anglers who like to catch fish recreationally in state waters. Before heading out on a fishing trip, make sure to get a recreational fishing license through the state’s Department of Natural Resources. State regulations require both residents and nonresidents of the state to acquire a freshwater and/or saltwater fishing license, depending on the primary type of fishing taking place. The classes of fishing permits in WV are based on a number of factors, including the applicant’s residency status, age, the type of fish being caught and the length of the fishing license’s validity period. To buy a fishing license in West Virginia, you must follow the DNR’s fishing license application process. Depending on your preference, there are a number of ways to purchase a permit to fish in the state, including online, in person or by phone. In addition to knowing the West Virginia fishing license application process, anglers should also be familiar with the various fishing license fees. Fishing license fees depend on the class of license as well as the applicant’s residency status, as residents receive a discounted rate on fishing licenses. Both active-duty members of the military and disabled individuals applying for fishing licenses also receive discounted or free fishing licenses from the Department of Natural Resources. To find out more about how to get a fishing license in West Virginia, read the information outlined in the sections below:

  • Standard recreational fishing license
  • Trout fishing license

Standard West Virginia Fishing Licenses

Obtaining a fishing license in West Virginia allows anglers to catch wildlife in the hundreds of public fishing areas located throughout the state. To buy fishing licenses, anglers must complete the fishing license application process through the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. The department primarily offers both a standard Class B resident fishing license and the Class F nonresident fishing license. Before completing the application to buy a fishing license though, anglers should first know the various documents they must present during the application process. Additionally, applicants should know the specific fees for the license they plan on purchasing, as well as where to buy a fishing license in West Virginia.

Purchasing a standard fishing license requires anglers to first establish whether or not they are a WV resident. To establish residency, applicants must live in the state for at least 30 consecutive days directly prior to submitting the fishing license application. When applying for a residential West Virginia recreational fishing permit, applicants must submit a valid West Virginia drivers license or state-issued ID as proof of residency. Once the forms are submitted, pay the licensing fee to receive the license to fish. Licenses to fish in West Virginia are issued at a free or reduced fee for certain exempt or discounted groups including:

  • Disabled individuals.
  • West Virginia residents ages 65 and older.
  • Children younger than 15.
  • Active-duty military members.
  • Honorably discharged military members.

Fishing licenses are valid for a calendar year and expire on December 31. For anglers who prefer not to get a new permit every year, the Department of Natural Resources also offers lifetime fishing license options for an additional fee. Along with your fishing license, you must carry a photo ID on you at all times while out on the water.

To purchase a West Virginia fishing license, visit one of the 180 official retail fishing license agents across the state. For online orders, visit the DNR’s official fishing license website. You can also purchase a license to fish by calling the Hunting and Fishing License Unit at: 304-558-2758.

West Virginia Trout Fishing Licenses

West Virginia trout fishing licenses are required to remove fish from West Virginia’s trout population. Trout fishing licenses are meant to keep a tab on how many trout are being harvested in state waters, as the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources has been commissioned to regulate trout fishing in the state. As a result, the DNR differentiates between standard fishing licenses and trout fishing licenses. To add trout fishing privileges to a standard fishing license, anglers must purchase a Class O trout fishing stamp. The requirements for purchasing a Class O trout stamp are the same as the requirements for standard fishing permits, with an additional fee.

Certain lifetime fishing permits, such as the senior lifetime license, include allowances for trout fishing in the license provisions. Additionally, certain groups are exempt from trout fishing stamp requirements, including:

  • West Virginia residents who turned 65 years of age or older before January 1, 2012.
  • West Virginia residents/nonresidents 15 years of age or younger.
  • Disabled military veterans/former POWs.

To purchase a trout stamp, visit one of the authorized WV fishing license retailers, the online purchase page on the DNR website, or call the Hunting and Fishing License Unit.

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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