It may be known as “the lone star state,” but the fishing Texas has in store is nothing short of five stars! From Lake Texoma to the Gulf of Mexico, the fish in these waters will give you a run for your money. You can count on a savvy guide and top-notch tackle to reel in all of the state’s top catches. All you need to bring is a Texas fishing license and your enthusiasm!
The state of Texas offers anglers a variety of fishing packages to choose from. Knowing which one is right for you 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 on fish.
Quick View: Texas Sportfishing License Requirements
Who Needs a Sportfishing License in Texas?
Unlike in Florida and some other states, the fee for a fishing charter in Texas does not include your fishing license. Anyone age 17 and older must purchase a Texas fishing license for recreational angling in public state waters. This applies to anglers fishing by any means, from conventional rod and reel to bow fishing and Catfish noodling. Anyone in your group who is actively participating needs to have a license (this includes netting fish, dehooking fish, etc.).
Depending on where you fish, you will need either a saltwater endorsement (for the Gulf of Mexico and tidal waters) or a freshwater endorsement (for rivers, streams, lakes, etc.). When fishing in federal waters (more than 9 miles offshore), you still need a TX fishing license in order to bring your catch back into state waters.
How Much Does a Texas Fishing License Cost?
Texas fishing licenses are sold in a variety of packages. Prices vary depending on where you plan to fish, how long the license is valid, and your status as a state resident.
Residents and non-residents can purchase a License Year Fishing Package, which is valid from the date of sale until August 31 of the same year. An annual fishing package can include either a freshwater endorsement, a saltwater endorsement, or both (known as an All-Water License). Saltwater packages also include a Red Drum tag at no additional charge.
Texas residents can buy a Year-From-Purchase All-Water package, which is valid through the end of the purchase month in the following license year. A Year-From-Purchase All-Water package includes both freshwater and saltwater endorsements, as well as one Red Drum tag.
For visiting anglers and people who don’t fish frequently, a single day All-Water license is the most cost effective choice. This license is valid only on the date of purchase or on the pre-selected date of your choice.
You also have the option to buy individual tags and endorsements if you already possess a certain fishing package and would like to expand your options. For instance, if you own a TX saltwater fishing package and would like to fish in freshwater, you can purchase a freshwater endorsement ($5) rather than an entire freshwater package. A saltwater endorsement costs $10 and includes a Red Drum tag.
Fishing-and-hunting combo licenses are also available to state residents.
Planning to become a licensed fishing guide? Read our post on how to become a guide in Texas!
Exceptions to Texas Fishing License Requirements:
- No one is required to have a fishing license on Texas’s annual Free Fishing Day (the first Saturday in June).
- You do not need a license when fishing from banks or piers in Texas State Parks. You can identify State Parks by the square green TPWD logo displayed at their entrances. Make sure you are within park boundaries when fishing without a license. All other regulations such as size limits, bag limits, and mandatory tags still apply.
- Resident and non-resident anglers under the age of 17 do not need to buy a TX fishing license.
- Anglers born before 1 January 1931 do not need a license to fish in Texas.
- Anglers who are mentally disabled do not need a license when fishing under the supervision of a licensed angler who is either a family member or has permission from the disabled angler’s family. In such a situation, a mentally disabled angler must carry a note from their doctor confirming they have been diagnosed as mentally disabled.
- People who are mentally disabled may also fish without a license when engaging in recreational fishing as a form of medically approved therapy, and must be supervised by someone who is either employed or approved by a hospital, school, or residence for mentally disabled persons. The mentally disabled angler must carry a form of authorization identifying the entity responsible for the service, such as an ID card.
- Resident and non-resident disabled veterans may be entitled to the Disabled Veteran Super Combo Hunting and All-Water Fishing Package, which is free and valid for fishing in both freshwater and saltwater. Prepare to show V.A.-issued proof of disability and state the rate of disability when you apply for this license.
- Louisiana state residents age 65 and older who possess a valid LA state fishing license do not need to buy a TX fishing license.
- Oklahoma state residents age 65 and older do not need to buy a TX state fishing license, but should carry ID with proof of their age.
Where Can I Buy a Texas Fishing License?
You can buy a TX fishing license (or “package”) online, in Texas Park and Wildlife Department offices, and at more than 1,500 retailers statewide. Licenses are sold in many department stores, sporting goods stores, tackle shops, gun shops, and even grocery stores.
Some licenses, such as boat and guide licenses, are only available for purchase at the TPWD headquarters in Austin and Law Enforcement offices.
What Else Do I Need to Bring?
Red Drum Tags
In order to keep a Redfish longer than 28”, you need to have a Red Drum tag. (Saltwater fishing packages include one Red Drum tag upon purchase.) This applies to all anglers, including those exempt from carrying a license. Be sure to attach the tag to your catch right away:
- Remove the tag from your license (keep the entire tag intact)
- Fill in all the information requested on the front of the tag
- Cut out the appropriate day and month
- Using a wire or string, attach the tag to the tail fin of the fish (around the narrowest part)
Fishing Interstate Waters
Is my Texas fishing license valid in Louisiana?
Texas and Louisiana have a reciprocal fishing license agreement, but this doesn’t apply to all waters throughout both states. Anglers who possess a fishing license from TX or OK can fish in public waters spanning the state border. So, if you’re hopping over the border and you bought your LA fishing license with you, there’s no need to buy a TX fishing license so long as you’re casting a line in one of the lakes, rivers, or reservoirs shared between both states. Likewise, Texas state residents with a TX fishing license do not need a LA fishing license for the same waters. Border waters where a LA and TX license are both valid include:
- Sabine River, Sabine Lake, and Sabine Pass
- Caddo Lake
- Toledo Bend Reservoir
Louisiana state residents age 65 and older can fish anywhere in Texas using their LA fishing licenses.
Can I use my Texas fishing license in Oklahoma?
Only Texas state residents who are 65 and older can fish in Oklahoma without buying an OK license (bring ID).
Casting a line in Lake Texoma? Buy yourself a Lake Texoma License ($12) and feel free to fish anywhere on the lake! You don’t need a TX or OK fishing license when you have one of these, nor any stamps or endorsements. A Lake Texoma Fishing License is valid until December 31 following the date of issuance. Texas state residents age 65+ don’t need this license in order to fish on the Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma.
What if I misplace my Texas fishing 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.
There’s only one thing left to do now that you’ve figured out which TX fishing package is right for you—get out there and catch a big’un!