Fishing in Pennsylvania waters requires all individuals to hold a valid fishing license, regardless of age and residency. Anglers can fish in the state's inland waters or fish for saltwater species on the PA coast. Pennsylvania fishing licenses can be purchased in a few ways and are issued by the state's Fish and Boat Commission. Interested applicants who would like to gain experience and knowledge before casting their first rod have the option to enroll in fishing education courses, while masters of the sport can join a PA fishing organization or a club. To find out more about fishing licenses in PA, explore the sections below:
Table of Contents
Pennsylvania fishing licenses are generally divided into freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses. However, for saltwater fishing of striped bass, river herring or shad in the Delaware Estuary or the Delaware River below Trenton Falls, anglers must register with the saltwater angler registry. Pennsylvania fishing licenses can be purchased in one of the following ways:
To buy a fishing license online, visit the Outdoor Shop on the official PA Fish and Boat Commission website. The system will ask you to provide your personal information, payment information and your Social Security Number or driver's license number (another form of ID such as a visa or passport may be required for non-US citizens). Depending on the type of license you select, you will be able to print it and use immediately or wait for your credential to arrive in the mail within seven to 10 business days.
If you prefer to purchase a PA license to fish in person, contact a license issuing agent in your area. More information about county license agents can be found on the PA Fish and Boat Commission website. PA fishing licenses can also be obtained by mail – simply send a complete application for an annual or multi-year license to the following address:
Individuals must be at least 16 years of age to be eligible for a Pennsylvania fishing license. The following license types are available for PA anglers:
Both residents and visitors must abide by specific egulations for saltwater fishing licenses in Pennsylvania – namely, anglers without a valid PA fishing license who would like to fish for river herring, shad and striped bass in the coastal waters of the state must register with the Fish and Boat Commission. This rule is applicable for saltwater fishing in the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or the Delaware Estuary. Exceptions include anglers who:
Many novice anglers must learn the basics of the sport prior to fishing. The PA Fish and Boat Commission has created several educational programs on different fishing topics to help young and beginner anglers in their fishing journey. Some of the many fishing classes include:
The SMART Angler Program is created for young anglers 8 to 12 years of age who would like to learn about the different fish species in Pennsylvania. In addition, participants will learn about water safety, fishing techniques and equipment, outdoor ethics and behavior, fish habitats and preservation and more. Parents, family members and guardians are also encouraged to participate and help children learn about fishing.
The Family Fishing Program provides a way for families to connect through fishing and learn about knot tying, baiting the hook, casting, taking a fish off the hook and other basic fishing skills. The program entails fishing practice where families can gather together and enjoy fishing without obtaining a license to fish. Any necessaryfishing equipment is provided by the program.
The Ice Fishing Program is a family-oriented educational course during which families learn ice fishing skills and special ice-fishing techniques, such as rigging, selecting bait, boring a fishing hole, working a jigging rod, determining the proper ice thickness and more. Additionally, families are educated about water and ice safety and are given the chance to partake in ice fishing.
Pennsylvania anglers who would like to meet fellow fishermen and learn new tips about fishing can become members of a fishing organization. Some of the most popular fishing clubs are the Delaware River Fishermen Association and the PA Bass Federation. DRFA members gather together at the Delaware River to fish, socialize and share their fishing experiences. Members also take interest in government fishing regulations, environmental problems and development, all of which may impact the river's habitat and its fish species. The PA Bass Federation is devoted to promoting recreational bass fishing and support conservation. It organizes bass tournaments, competitions and other recreational events throughout the state.