Understanding Regulations and Requirements

License Requirements

Some good reasons to buy a fishing license

Your purchase of a fishing license helps support the following Fisheries Section programs.  If you want to support fisheries management and conservation of Georgia's aquatic resources, buy a fishing license today!

  • Management: Fish populations are monitored and managed in over 500,000 acres of reservoirs and small lakes, 12,000 miles of streams and rivers, and over 4,000 miles of trout streams.
  • Hatcheries: six warmwater hatcheries produce largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, striped bass, hybrid striped-white bass, and other species to stock into reservoirs, rivers, and ponds; three trout hatcheries stock over 1 million trout into trout streams.
  • Public Fishing Areas: over 2,000 acres of water on nine PFAs provide quality fishing for bass, bream, crappie, and catfish.  PFAs are "perfect family areas" for family recreation.  License sales help build new PFAs! 
  • Boat Ramps: numerous boat ramps are maintained statewide.  New ramps are built each year to provide better access for all boaters.
  • Aquatic Education: over 30,000 kids and their parents fish at over 500 Kids Fishing Events each year.  Many are kids that have not experienced good fishing.  Over 1,200 educators are trained and provided teaching materials each year to teach youth about Georgia's aquatic resources.
  • Publications: Georgia Fish ID book,  Trout Streams of Georgia map, Fishing Regulations book, River maps, and many others are printed and mailed to thousands each year.
  • Fish Kills and Pollution: because of Fisheries staff investigations, the culprit is often brought to justice and fined.
How long are licenses valid?  How has the "license year" changed?

As of mid-February 2004, all recreational hunting and fishing licenses will be good for one full year (12 months) from the day that they are purchased rather than expiring on March 31 of each year. Until now, hunting and fishing licenses expired at the end of the traditional "license year" (March 31) no matter when they were purchased. Commercial licenses (commercial fishing, Wild Animal dealer, wholesale or retail fish dealer, etc) will continue to expire on March 31 of each year however.  Since there is no longer a "license year" for recreational licenses, license buyers will now get more value - not to mention more opportunities to hunt and fish - for their annual license purchase price. For more information on license changes - call (800) 366-2661.

Who needs a fishing license?

Anyone age 16 and older must have a current Georgia fishing license in their possession while fishing in freshwater or saltwater in Georgia.  Conservation Rangers may require identification when checking fishing licenses.

Exceptions:

  • a fishing license is not required to fish in private ponds (this does not include ponds owned by governments - county, state, or federal).
  • a fishing license is not required by a landowner and their immediate family when fishing on their land.
Residents
  • Proof of residence, such as a Georgia driver's license, is required when purchasing a fishing license.
  • Resident anglers, 16 - 64 years of age are required to have a current Georgia fishing license in their possession while fishing in freshwater and saltwater in Georgia.
  • Residents 65 years of age or older may fish with the Senior (65+) Lifetime License.  This license can be obtained at no cost from license dealers by furnishing proof of age (Georgia driver's license, birth certificate, etc.).
  • Residents that are permanently and totally disabled may obtain a Disability Honorary Combination Hunting & Fishing License by applying to the License Unit.  Proof of disability must accompany the application.  Proof of disability may come from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement System, or another government agency.
  • Those that are blind can apply for a Lifetime Honorary Fishing License and must provide a Physician's certification of blindness with the application.

Note: Georgia DNR has Agreements with Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina that allow holders of Georgia fishing licenses to fish in the waters covered without obtaining a fishing license from the bordering state. See Agreements With Bordering States.

Nonresidents
  • Nonresidents under 16 years of age do not require a fishing or trout license.
  • Nonresidents 16 years or older, regardless of physical condition, must have a current nonresident Georgia fishing license to fish in Georgia, except in private ponds.
  •  Florida residents 65 years of age or older - see Agreements With Bordering States.
  • College students (US citizens) enrolled full-time who are residing Georgia may purchase a resident fishing license.  A current student I.D. must be shown when purchasing a resident fishing license.
  • Military persons on active status stationed at a military base in Georgia and their immediate family members may purchase a resident fishing license. This includes full-time military personnel on active duty who list Georgia as their home of record in their official military file (with documented proof). A current military I.D. and verifiable proof of being stationed at a Georgia military installation must be shown when purchasing a resident fishing license.
  • Any violation of Georgia fishing laws or regulations can cause revocation of license.
Trout Fishing
  • All resident anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must have a current Georgia fishing and trout license to fish in designated trout waters and to fish for or to possess trout.
  • Resident Senior (65+) Lifetime and Honorary license holders are not required to have a trout license.
  • Landowners and their immediate families may fish on their premises without a trout license.
  • All nonresident anglers, 16 years and older, regardless of physical condition, must possess a current nonresident fishing and trout license to fish for or possess trout or to fish in designated trout waters.
  • Florida residents, 16 years and older, must possess a nonresident trout license to fish for or possess trout or to fish in designated trout waters.
  • State Park visitors are not required to possess a trout license to fish in the impounded waters of the park.
  • License requirements for Waters Creek: 
    • Residents: Georgia resident fishing license, trout license, and WMA license. Senior (65+) lifetime, Honorary, and Sportsman's license holders do not need a WMA license to fish Waters Creek.
    • Nonresidents:  Nonresident Georgia fishing license, nonresident trout license, and nonresident WMA license. Florida residents more than 65 years or age must possess nonresident and trout and WMA licenses.  
Fishing on a Public Fishing Area (PFA)
  • Anglers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license and Wildlife Management Area license to fish.  A WMA license is not required to fish at Rocky Mountain Recreation and PFA.
  • If you possess any of the following licenses, you do not have to possess a WMA license to fish at a PFA: Sportsman's, Three-Day Fishing/Hunting Combination, Senior (65+) lifetime, or Honorary.
  • Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass  (GORP)
Fishing on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)
  • Unless otherwise posted, fishing is allowed on WMAs according to state-wide regulations.
  • Alcohol use is prohibited on WMAs except in designated camping areas.  Refer to the Hunting Regulations guide for a complete list of  WMA regulations.
  • A Fishing License is the only requirement to fish on WMAs in general except a Trout License is also required to fish designated trout waters on a WMA. A Fishing License and a WMA License is required to fish on state Public Fishing Areas (PFAs) and Waters Creek Trophy Trout Stream on Chestatee WMA.
Saltwater Fishing
  • As of Jan. 1, 2013, anglers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license and a valid Saltwater Information Program permit (SIP) to fish in salt water in Georgia.
  • SIP permits are free, and can be obtained similar to other Georgia hunting and fishing licenses (online, at license agents, and by calling 800-366-2661). There is no service fee charged to obtain the free SIP permit. Detailed instructions to obtain a SIP Permit can be found HERE.
  • Once obtained, SIP permits are valid thought the last day of February each year, and must be renewed on March 1 or later.
  • A SIP permit is automatically added if you purchase a one day saltwater fishing license.
  • More information on the Saltwater Information Program is available HERE.





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