When it comes to fishing licenses in the United States, the cost can vary significantly from state to state. While the average annual license costs $25.42 for residents and $61.52 for non-residents in 2024, some states stand out with higher prices. One state that has consistently topped the list in recent years is California, with its fishing license costing $61.82 for both residents and non-residents.
California’s Fishing License: The Most Expensive in 2024
California’s fishing license price of $61.82 for both residents and non-residents in 2024 is 76% more expensive than the national average. This high cost can be attributed to several factors, including the state’s large population, diverse ecosystems, and the need to fund extensive conservation and management efforts.

Despite the high price, California’s fishing license remains popular among anglers. The state boasts a wide variety of fish species, from the iconic Pacific salmon to the elusive steelhead trout. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy the challenge of catching these prized fish in the state’s numerous rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

However, the high cost of a fishing license in California may deter some anglers from participating in the sport. This can have a negative impact on the state’s fishing industry and the local economies that rely on it. To address this issue, California offers short-term licenses ranging from one day to ten days, which can be more affordable for occasional anglers or tourists.

Other States with Expensive Fishing Licenses in 2024
While California tops the list, several other states also have relatively expensive fishing licenses in 2024:

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Alaska’s fishing license costs $100 for non-residents in 2024, making it one of the most expensive in the country. The state’s remote location and pristine wilderness contribute to the high cost, as well as the need to fund extensive conservation efforts.


Colorado’s fishing license costs $111.03 for non-residents in 2024, which is significantly higher than the national average. The state’s diverse landscapes, from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, offer a wide range of fishing opportunities, but the high cost of a license may deter some anglers.


Oregon’s fishing license costs $110.50 for non-residents in 2024, making it another state with a relatively expensive license. The state’s coastal waters and numerous rivers and lakes offer excellent fishing opportunities, but the high cost of a license may be a barrier for some anglers.
The Importance of Fishing Licenses
While the cost of fishing licenses may seem high, they serve an important purpose in maintaining healthy fish populations and supporting conservation efforts. Fishing license fees are used to fund various programs, such as fish stocking, habitat restoration, and enforcement of fishing regulations.

In addition to funding conservation efforts, fishing licenses also provide valuable data to fisheries managers. By tracking the number of fishing license holders, managers can better understand the demand for fishing and make informed decisions about resource allocation and management strategies.

Despite the high cost of fishing licenses in some states, the sport of fishing remains popular across the United States. In 2023, Texas had the highest number of paid fishing license holders, with approximately 2.1 million anglers. This demonstrates the enduring appeal of fishing and the importance of maintaining healthy fish populations for future generations to enjoy.

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