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How Much is the Fine for Fishing Without a License?

The fine for fishing without a license in the United States will vary depending on your state and your situation; however, note that the average range for fishing without a license is around $15 to $12,000.

Most often, these fines will encompass the amount of fish caught which can range anywhere from $5 to $1,000 per fish. If you choose not to pay the fine, you might end up serving time in jail. Howbeit, rather than getting bothered about getting caught and receiving a fine, it is better you obtain a fishing license.

Fishing has grown to become one of the most popular sports in America. Note that the nation’s diverse ecosystem as well as its complex man-made canal systems have made fishing possible in a good number of locations across the nation.

This has made a good number of new anglers believe that you can fish anywhere as long as you have a rod and fishing gear. Nonetheless, there are restrictions and regulations created to sustain the ecosystem.

It is necessary to research the specific state where you intend to fish, as well as the local jurisdiction, as regulations tend to vary. It’s also necessary that you make sure you are in line with the law since anglers can be fined, have their catches seized, or even have their fishing license revoked if they violate fishing regulations.

These laws tend to vary by the area you will be fishing. If you intend to fish in state waters, you will be expected to adhere to that state’s rules.

Fine for Fishing Without a License in Different States

Just as was noted above, the fine for fishing without a license in the United States will vary depending on your state and the situation. Nevertheless, below are some basic numbers for popular fishing states.

  1. Tennessee

In the Volunteer State, you are expected to obtain a fishing license before you can fish. However, note that once you get caught, the least amount you will be billed is $35. But if for whatever reason the case goes to court, just know that you will have to include at least $500 to your bill as court fees. Anyone apprehended more than once will have to pay up to $1000.

  1. Oregon

In the state of Oregon, the least fine is $15; however, note that almost no one will pay just that. You will be billed for every fish caught and this costs around $5 to $1000 per fish. Also note that if you are caught more than once, the fine itself (without penalties) can be as high as $12,000.

  1. Florida

Anyone caught fishing without a license in the sunshine state will have to pay for a license, coupled with an additional 50 dollars. Anyone caught again within 36 months after the first offense will have to pay $100, and this could rise to $500 if you get caught again. Failure to pay the fine or show up in court, you can expect around 60 days of jail time.

  1. Mississippi

If you are caught fishing in freshwater without a license in Mississippi, you will have to pay around $100 and $250 for the first offense.

In saltwater, expect around $500. Whereas for non-residents, fishing in freshwater without a license can be up to $500 on the first offense. Any individual caught during closed season will be expected to pay around $500 to $1000 in saltwater.

The same fines go for anyone caught the second time. Third or any other offense will have to pay between $2000 and $4000 especially if it falls within 3 years.

Anyone caught four or more times may end up in jail and get a one-year fishing ban. Saltwater rules and fines are much stricter here than freshwater. Five saltwater violations might lead to all of your equipment getting confiscated, and a fine of up to $10000.

  1. Illinois

Fines for fishing without a license in the Prairie State can be quite high. If you are a repeat offender, you might get a one-year prison sentence coupled with a $2500 fine. Howbeit, for first-time offenders, you will pay a lot less, around $100.

  1. Texas

One thing about Texas is that you can easily access the price list of fines available online. You can conveniently compare it with the license price yourself. Have it in mind that an expired or nonexistent license will cost you $130 on your first offense. Illegal fishing methods mean you will have to pay $155. Size and bag limit violations are known to cost around $205.

  1. Nevada

In Nevada, you will be fined at least $50 for your first offense. Along with that, you may have to pay penalties for varying fish species, and those penalties go from $25 to$1000. If you fail to pay within 3 months, you might well be denied a license in the future.

  1. Ohio

In the Buckeye State, you will have to pay at least $75 if you are caught fishing without a license, but this is for your first offense. If you make some other offenses, like fishing for protected species or fishing during the closed season, the fine can be quite exorbitant. Along with the fine, officials will confiscate your catch, and you might end up in court.

  1. Oklahoma

In the state of Oklahoma, fishing without a license will cost you around $25-$200 in fines for residents and $50 – $200 for non-residents. However, note that the amount can be quite higher if you are caught fishing for species that require additional permits.

If you are caught without, you will be fined a few thousand dollars and face some jail time, although it will depend on how bad your offense is.

  1. South Carolina

According to reports, fines for fishing without a license in SC are at least $50 and not over $500 for the first offense. Aside from that, you might end up in jail for up to 30 days, depending on your offense.

  1. Kansas

The state of Kansas is known to be quite strict and boasts of very high fines. The first offense carries between $250 and $1000 fine. Any other thing beyond the first offense will warrant fines of at least $1000.

  1. Louisiana

In the Pelican State, based on your precise situation, you will pay $50 to $500 if caught without a license. However, note that your fine will go up as you keep getting caught until your equipment gets confiscated. Aside from the fine, you might very have to pay the value of caught fish that will be confiscated. All of this can lead to arrests, court hearings, and even jail.

  1. Utah

If you are caught fishing without a license in Utah, you may pay as much as $1000, and coupled with that, you may be suspended from getting a new license for another 3 years. All of this can lead to 180 days in jail! If it’s the first time and you are quite lucky, or if your license expired a few days ago, you may get a lower fine.

  1. Alaska

Anyone caught fishing in Alaska without a license will have to immediately pay $100-$150. Also, note that the authorities will also confiscate all of your fish. Anyone identified as a repeat offender will get arrested and taken to court where they will also be expected to pay the court fees.

  1. California

In this state, fines are around $100 and $1000. For second-time offenders who are caught again less than 5 years after the first time, they will have to pay between $250 and $1000. If you have a license, but at the moment don’t have it with you, you will still be fined $25.

Don’t forget that the fines can be quite higher if you broke other regulations too, such as being caught over the bag limit, or if you kept juvenile fish.


In most places in the United States, a 1-year fishing license costs around $20 to $30. With a fishing license being that cheap, there is no reason not to obtain the license especially when you consider the heavy fines and potential jail time. Although it can become a little pricey for some people, fishing license fees always go back to developing the area.