It may be known as “the Lone Star State,” but Texas’s fishing scene in store is nothing short of five stars! From Lake Texoma to the Gulf of Mexico, you can count on big fish and savvy guides in all of the state’s top spots. All you need to enjoy them is a Texas fishing license!
The state of Texas offers anglers a variety of fishing packages to choose from. Which one’s right for you? That depends on where you plan to fish, which state you’re from, and more. We put together this quick guide so you can spend less time looking for answers and more time fishing.
Who needs a fishing license in Texas?
Everyone aged 17 and over needs a license to fish in Texas. This applies to Texas residents and out-of-staters alike, whether you’re casting from shore or fishing with a charter. Anyone in your group who is actively participating needs a license. This includes netting fish, baiting hooks – even holding the rod for a few seconds.
Exceptions to Texas License Requirements
Every rule has its exceptions, and this is no different. People can fish completely-license free in the following cases:
- No one needs a license when fishing from banks or piers in Texas State Parks.
- No one needs a license on Texas’s annual Free Fishing Day (the first Saturday in June).
- Anglers under the age of 17 don’t need a license to fish in Texas.
- Texas residents born before 1 January 1931 do not need a license to fish in Texas.
On top of all this, there are exceptions for Texas residents with mental disabilities. Namely, they don’t need a license to fish if supervised by a family member or somebody authorized by the family who does have a license. They can also fish license-free as part of a supervised medical therapy program (such as fishing therapy).
Types of License in Texas
|Licence Type||Resident||Non-Resident||Senior Resident|
|One-Day All-Water License||$11.00||$16.00||N/A|
To legally fish in Texas, you need both a “license” and an “endorsement,” which usually come as a combined “package.” You can choose either freshwater or saltwater, or get both together in an All-Water Package. Once you have a license, you can always add an extra endorsement instead of buying a whole new package.
License-Year Packages always expire on August 31, meaning that if you buy one in July, it’s only valid for a month or so. The Year-From-Purchase All-Water Package is different, lasting until the end of the month you bought it the following year. They’re only available for residents, though.
Don’t fish that often? The One-Day All-Water License lets you fish fresh and saltwater on the day of your choice. You can also buy several at once if you’re planning a longer adventure.
Red Drum Tags
In order to keep a Redfish longer than 28 inches, you need to have a Red Drum Tag. These cost $3 each, but they’re included in Saltwater and All-Water Packages, as well as One-Day Licenses, Lifetime Licenses, and Saltwater Endorsements. In short, you only actually have to buy them if you’re exempt from needing a license or if you want to keep a second trophy-sized Drum.
Special Licenses and Packages
As well as the standard mix of licenses, endorsements, and packages, there are some special deals available for certain situations. These can save you a lot of money if you’re eligible!
Resident Lifetime Licenses
Texas residents who want to spend the rest of their lives fishing in the Lone Star State should consider buying a Lifetime License. These cost a cool $1,000, but they let you fish anywhere in the state and keep one trophy-sized Drum each year. You can also upgrade them to a Hunting/Fishing Combo License for an extra $800.
Lake Texoma License
Casting a line in Lake Texoma? Buy yourself a Lake Texoma License for $12 and feel free to fish anywhere on the lake! If you have a TX or OK license, you can fish in the appropriate portion of the lake. But if you just want to hit Texoma, you don’t need a TX or OK permit (or any stamps or endorsements), just a Lake Texoma License. These licenses are valid until December 31 of the year you buy it.
Super Combo License
The State of Texas has a special license for military personnel called the Super Combo Hunting & All-Water Fishing Package. It’s available to resident active military personnel, as well as veterans of any state who have a 50% disability rating or have lost the use of a limb. This package is completely free, and lets you fish and hunt anywhere in the state. It also includes the Red Drum Tag.
Where to Buy a Texas Fishing License
There are several ways to buy a fishing license, package, or endorsement. Some licenses, such as the Super Combo License, are only available at TPWD offices. However, you can pick up most of them in either of the following ways:
- Online. This is the quickest option, and lets you get licensed to fish instantly. You can either print your permit out or store it on your phone.
- In-person. Buy your license from any TPWD office, or in hardware stores, tackle shops, gun shops, and even grocery stores across the state.
Fishing Interstate Waters
Texas has reciprocal agreements with some of its neighbors, letting you fish their waters without buying a second license. These don’t usually apply to the entire state, though, so be careful where you cast once you’re over the state line.
Texas residents over 65 can fish anywhere in Louisiana if they have a senior’s fishing license. Residents under 65 can also fish in Louisiana, but only in waters spanning the state border. There’s no need to buy a LA fishing license so long as you’re casting a line in one of the lakes, rivers, or reservoirs shared between both states. These include:
- Sabine River
- Sabine Pass
- Sabine Lake
- Caddo Lake
- Toledo Bend Reservoir
Only Texas state residents who are 65 and older can fish in Oklahoma without buying an OK license (bring ID) – and vice versa! Everyone else needs to buy a license as soon as they step over the border. The exception to this is fishing Lake Texoma with a Lake Texoma Fishing License.
Common Questions About TX Fishing Licenses
- What happens if I lose my license?
If you lose your fishing license, you can buy a replacement at any license retailer. Most replacement licenses cost $10. You will have to complete an application before purchasing a replacement license.
- What are the requirements for the Disabled Veteran Fishing License?
To get the Disabled Veteran Super Combo Hunting and All-Water Fishing Package, you need to submit official proof of disability issued by the Veteran’s Administration.
According to the V.A., disabled veterans can apply if their disability “consists of the loss of the use of a foot or leg, or a disability rating of 50% or more and are receiving compensation from the U.S. for the disability.”
- Can I get a discounted license if I'm a physically disabled angler?
No. Only veterans can get a discounted license due to disability. So if your disability was not sustained during military service, you will need to purchase a regular fishing license.
- At what age is someone considered a senior?
65. Anybody age 65 and older is considered to be a senior in Texas. However, anglers born before January 1, 1931, don't need a license at all to fish in Texas.
- I have a Texas Freshwater Fishing Package. Can I use that to fish Lake Texoma or do I need a separate Lake Texoma license?
Yes. You can fish the Texan side of Lake Texoma with a standard freshwater fishing license. Just make sure you don’t stray into Oklahoma waters. Otherwise, a Lake Texoma fishing license costs $12 and covers you on the entire reservoir.
- I am a senior Texas resident with a Senior All-Water Package. Can I fish in Louisiana?
Yes. According to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Texas residents age 65 or older may fish in any Louisiana public waters (both freshwater and saltwater) as long as they possess any type of valid Texas resident seniors license.
- Do you need a license to fish off a dock or shore?
Yes. Unless you're fishing in one of the Texas State Parks, you will need a valid Texas fishing license to fish off a dock or shore.
- How do I prove my residency?
To qualify for a resident fishing license, you need to have been living in the state for the last six months. There are several documents that you can use to prove this, including a tax statement, utility bill, paycheck, and driver's license.
- Do I need a Texas license to fish federal waters?
Yes. Even if you're fishing in federal waters (more than nine nautical miles offshore), you still need a TX fishing license to bring your catch back into state waters.
We tried to cover everything you need to know about Texas fishing licenses. If you still have questions, we recommend getting in touch with your local TPWD office. Otherwise, it’s time to find a guide near you, or just grab your rod and start fishing!