Louisiana Fishing License Rules Explained
Jun 11, 2021 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana’s waters are synonymous with awesome angling. Bull Reds on the flats, Blue Marlin offshore, the state has it all – as long as you have a Louisiana fishing license. There are a lot of things to consider when you get your license. Today, we’ll break everything down into a simple guide to the Bayou State’s license rules.

Looking for info on neighboring states, or around the US in general? Check out our full list of licensing guides here.

Who needs a Louisiana fishing license?

The state flag of Louisiana

Everyone over the age of 16 needs a license to fish in Louisiana. This applies to both LA residents and out-of-staters. You also need a license on most charter boats, although residents can fish license-free on a saltwater skiff charter.

Who doesn’t need a license?

Residents and non-residents under the age of 16 don’t need to buy a fishing license. Residents born before June 1, 1940, who’ve lived in Louisiana for six months or more are also exempt.

Lastly, everyone can enjoy a great time on the water on Louisiana’s Free Fishing Weekend. This usually runs in mid-June, and allows anglers from all over the country (and beyond) to fish license-free. Regular bag and size limits still apply, though.

Quick View: LA Fishing Licenses

The main two types of licenses are Basic – covering inland waters – and Saltwater – covering coastal areas. The boundary between the two is called the “saltwater line,” and runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, as shown below. Not sure what license you need? Check out this interactive map for a more detailed look.

A map showing Louisiana's "Saltwater Line" deciding the type of fishing license needed to fish in Louisiana

If you’re fishing on a saltwater charter, you can save a little money by opting for a “Charter Passenger” or “Charter Skiff” License. These cover you for three days of fishing aboard either a boat or a skiff.

So that’s it? Not even close! There are dozens of different fishing licenses you can buy in Louisiana, covering different lengths of time and specific pieces of gear. Some groups also have the option of discounted licenses.

Resident Fishing License Cost

Resident License Type Cost
Basic $9.50
Saltwater (Basic required) $13
Hook & Line (cane pole) $2.50
Charter Passenger (3-Day) $10
LA Sportsman’s Paradise $100
Senior Fishing/Hunting $5

LA residents have access to several special permits. If you’re looking to fish on the cheap, a Hook & Line License is a bargain-price replacement for a Basic Fishing License that allows you to fish with a traditional cane pole.

On the other end of the scale, the Sportsman’s Paradise License lets you fish and hunt, and includes permits for all fishing gear except 16′ trawls. Lastly, seniors can get a discounted Hunting/Fishing Combo. This doesn’t include gear permits, though.

Lifetime Licenses

License Type Cost
Fishing (5–13) $200
Fishing (14+) $300
Hunting/Fishing (0–4) $200
Hunting/Fishing(5–13) $300
Hunting/Fishing(14-59) $500
Senior Hunting/Fishing (60+) $50

Another big advantage that residents get is access to a variety of lifetime licenses. These cover you for fresh and saltwater, and have the option of also covering hunting. Lifetime licenses are much cheaper for kids and seniors. You can buy your newborn a life of awesome angling and hunting for just a couple of hundred bucks!

Non-Resident License Cost

Non-Resident License Type Cost
Basic Trip (1-Day) $5
Saltwater Trip (1-Day) $17.50
Charter Passenger (3-Day) $10
Charter Skiff (3-Day) $30
Basic $60
Saltwater $30
Student Basic $9.50
Student Saltwater $5.50
Lifetime Hunting/Fishing $3,000

Visitors to the Pelican State also get a wide mix of licenses to choose from. These are mainly designed for short breaks, with special one-day permits for both fresh and saltwater, as well as three-day charter and skiff permits.

If you’re staying for longer, you can get the standard Basic and Saltwater Licenses, or even splash out on a Lifetime Hunting/Fishing License. This will cover you for the rest of your life, although you’ll still need gear permits for some equipment.

Studying in Louisiana? Non-residents who are in full-time education can get special discounts on licenses. The Saltwater License is actually cheaper than the regular resident rates!

Fishing Gear Permit Cost

Permit Type Resident Non-resident
Oyster Tong (per tong) $5 $20
Pipes/Drums (limit 5) $10 $40
Cans/Buckets (limit 5) $10 $40
Crawfish Traps (limit 35) $15 $60
Crab Traps (limit 10) $15 $60
Slat Traps (limit 5) $20 $80
Wire Nets (limit 5) $20 $80
Hoop Nets (limit 5) $20 $80
Trawls (up to 16 feet) $25 $100
Trawls (16–25 feet) $80 $320
Lifetime Fishing Gear 10 times annual fee per gear type

You only need a regular fishing license to use a rod and reel. However, if you want to fish with traps, nets, trawls, or other specialist equipment, you’ll need an extra permit. These are available to both residents and non-residents, although they’re cheaper for locals.

If you have a lifetime license, you can also get a lifetime version of any of these gear permits. This costs 10 times the regular rate, so it will start to pay for itself after a decade of delicious seafood.

Reduced-Fee Licenses

A man in a wheelchair fishing on a pier

The State of Louisiana offers special licenses for active and former military personnel, as well as disabled residents and out-of-state students. If one of those sounds like you, you could be in for a hefty discount.

Active and Former Military

Active-duty military and National Guard personnel get special pricing on fishing licenses, at $9.50 for Basic Licenses and $5.50 for Saltwater ones. Purple Heart recipients get similar rates of $9.50 for Basic and $13 for Saltwater. You don’t have to be a resident for these prices, although resident National Guard members can also get a hunting/fishing combo for $50.

Retired military personnel isn’t forgotten in the Pelican State, either. LA residents and Native Americans from anywhere in the US can get a hunting/fishing combo for just $5 after retiring from the military. Veterans with a service-related disability of 50% or more can get the hunting/fishing combo completely free.

Lastly, any resident whose spouse has been killed in action can get a fishing license covering fresh and saltwater for $2.50.

Disabled Residents

Louisiana residents who are permanently disabled and receiving disability benefits can Basic and Saltwater Licenses at $2.50 each. Blind, paraplegic, or amputee residents can get the hunting/fishing combo for free.

The State doesn’t only recognize physical disabilities, mind you. Residents with developmental disabilities can also get a free fishing license covering fresh and saltwater.

How and Where to Buy a License

An infographic with the text "Buying a Louisiana Fishing License" and the Louisiana state flag

You know what you need. But how should you buy it? As always, there are a few options. You can get most licenses in any of the following ways:

  • Online. Head to the DFW’s online store. You’ll get an authorization number you can use as soon as you’re done, as well as a digital license you can print or save on your phone.
  • In person. Prefer to get a paper license? DFW offices around the state sell licenses, as do most hardware stores, bait and tackle shops, and chains like Walmart.

Bear in mind that you can’t buy military, student, disability, or lifetime licenses online. For most of these, you’ll need to head to the LDFW head office in Baton Rouge or mail them your completed application form.

Using Your License in Other States

Louisiana has a reciprocal agreement with Texas. This means that LA residents over 65 years old can fish in any TX public waters (both freshwater and saltwater) without buying a Texas fishing license as long as they have a Louisiana Senior License.

Under-65s from both states can fish along the border waters without buying another license. These border waters include Sabine Lake, River, and Pass, as well as Caddo Lake and Toledo Bend Reservoir, but not the Gulf of Mexico.

Common Questions about LA Licensing Rules

Assorted fishing tackle on a wooden table, with a hook and sinker making a question mark in the middle
  1. When Does My Fishing License Expire?

    June 30. All licenses run from June 1 until June 30 of the following year unless stated otherwise. The one-day and three-day licenses are valid for 24 and 72 hours from the time you buy them. Lifetime licenses last forever and there's no need to renew them.

  2. What happens if I lose my license?

    Print another. Can't find your license? No worries! If you bought your license online, you can reprint it for free. If not, you need to buy a replacement for $2.

  3. How long does it take a license to arrive by mail?

    Around two weeks. If you're applying for a special license by mail, you should allow at least two weeks for it to arrive. It might arrive sooner than that, though.

  4. Do I need a license on private property?

    It depends. If you're fishing waters that are entirely within your land (like a private pond) you don't need a license. However, to fish waters that border your land (like a river) you do.

  5. Can I sell my license to someone else?

    No. Once you buy a license, it's registered to you and can't be transferred.

  6. Do I need a physical copy of my license?

    No. If you bought your license online, you can download a PDF copy and store it on your phone.

Now you should have all the information you need to enjoy a fun day of fishing down in Bayou Country If you still have questions, it’s best to call your local LDFW office. If not, it’s time to find a charter near you, pack your bags, and get ready for an awesome adventure!


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