When it comes to fishing in New Jersey in 2024, the rules are pretty straightforward. Anyone age 16 and older must have a valid fishing license to fish the fresh waters of the Garden State, whether they’re using a handline, rod and line, or longbow and arrow. This requirement applies even if you’re fishing on privately owned lakes or other waters.
Freshwater Fishing License Requirements in New Jersey
For most of the year, if you’re a resident between the ages of 16 and 69, you’ll need to purchase a freshwater fishing license to legally fish in New Jersey’s lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks. The license is valid from the date of purchase through December 31, 2024.
Resident anglers age 70 and over are exempt from the freshwater fishing license requirement. They can simply use a driver’s license or other acceptable proof of age containing their date of birth and physical description as their fishing license.
Non-residents 16 and older also need to purchase a freshwater fishing license to fish in New Jersey’s inland waters.

Exceptions to the Freshwater Fishing License Requirement

There are a few exceptions to the freshwater fishing license requirement in New Jersey:
Farmers and immediate family members who live on the farm don’t need a license to fish on their own property, but they must still follow all fishing regulations.
Members of the National Guard and veterans with service-connected disabilities are exempt.
Legally blind residents are also exempt from the license requirement.
Active duty members of the U.S. armed services, regardless of their state of residence, can purchase a resident fishing license.

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Free Freshwater Fishing Days in New Jersey

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife offers “free fishing days” in the spring and fall each year. On these designated days, anyone can fish the state’s fresh waters without a license.
In 2024, the free fishing days are scheduled for:
Spring: TBA
Fall: TBA
Saltwater Fishing in New Jersey
When it comes to saltwater fishing in New Jersey, the rules are a bit different. The state doesn’t require a general saltwater fishing license for recreational surfcasting, deep-sea, or bay fishing.
However, saltwater anglers 16 and older must register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program if they’re fishing on their own. Registration is free and can be done online or at license agents.
Depending on what you’re fishing for, you may need additional licenses or permits. For example, you’ll need a shellfish license if you plan to harvest mollusks, and tuna permits are required for certain species.
How to Purchase a New Jersey Fishing License
You can purchase your fishing license from the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife license website at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com. The system is available 24/7 and allows you to print your license immediately.
Licenses are also available at various license agents throughout the state, such as sporting goods stores and bait and tackle shops. It’s a good idea to call ahead to ensure the agent’s system is active.
When purchasing your license, you’ll need to provide your Conservation Identification Number (CID). This is a unique number that appears on all licenses, permits, and stamps issued by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Replacement of Lost Licenses and Stamps
If you lose your fishing license or trout stamp, you can replace it at any license agent or online at the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s license sales website. For licenses or stamps originally purchased online, you can print a free reprint on plain paper. Durable stock duplicates can be ordered online for $2 per item.
So, in summary, while you can’t fish without a license in New Jersey in 2024, the process of obtaining one is relatively simple. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident, young or old, there’s a license option that fits your needs. Just remember to display your license prominently on your outer clothing while fishing and be prepared to show it to law enforcement upon request.
Happy fishing in the Garden State!

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