Updated on July 14, 2022
For most people fishing in Texas, fishing licenses are valid starting from September 1st through August 31st of the following year. New fishing licenses for the upcoming year traditionally go on sale on August 15th each year so that anglers and hunters have a couple of weeks to make their purchase.
Fishing licenses are required for most anglers, but there are some exceptions. The exception that impacts the most people is age. Children under the age of 17 are not required to have a license to fish in Texas. Certain intellectual disabilities and a few older age exceptions also apply. Seniors aged 65 and older get discounted pricing on fishing licenses. Full-time active duty military personnel who are Texas residents can get their license for free.
For everyone else, pricing varies depending on the type of license that you are purchasing. Non-residents can expect to pay more for their license than Texas residents. The popular Super Combo license for both hunting and fishing will cost you more than a standard fishing license. If you are just getting a regular annual fishing license, then you still must consider whether you will be fishing in freshwater, saltwater, or both. The freshwater only license is a few dollars less than the saltwater only license. For a few more dollars, you can get an all-water fishing license. Unless you live a good distance from the coast and are certain not to make a trip to the saltwater this year, it is probably best to choose the all-water fishing license just to give yourself more choices.
Why do most fishing licenses expire August 31st rather than December 31st? That timing probably has more to do with hunting than it does with fishing. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sets new regulations for both fishing and hunting each year. September 1st coincides with the opening of dove season across much of the state, which is a key date for the start of the fall hunting season in Texas. Because Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (“TPWD”) sells both fishing and hunting licenses, TPWD rolls out both new hunting and fishing licenses plus any annual changes in regulations such as modified bag or size limits for the new season starting September 1st.
There are a few exceptions to the general rules related to fishing license dates. If you plan on fishing between August 15th and August 31st, then you usually get a few bonus days of fishing. TPWD licenses are typically valid from your date of purchase after August 15th through August 31st of the following year. That way, you do not need to purchase one annual license just to fish the last few days of the current year plus a second license for the following year.
Texas also offers one day fishing licenses for anglers who are only going fishing once or twice per year. These single day fishing licenses are a more affordable option for anglers making a special trip to Texas for just a few days. Texas residents who do not fish regularly can also take advantage of the single day fishing licenses to get out on the water a couple of times per year.
For Texas resident anglers who know that they will be fishing only and who do not want to purchase a combo hunting and fishing license, there is another option. Texas also sells a Year from Purchase All-Water Package for fishermen who do not want to follow the traditional September-August license dates.
The Year-from-Purchase option may make sense for people who wait to buy a license until late in the season, but be aware that the price of this license is more expensive than a regular September-August annual license. If you will be fishing in Texas for several years, then getting onboard with the lower cost September-August license can save you money in the long run.
Pricing for fishing licenses can vary from year to year, but the prices generally do make dramatic changes. TPWD provides at least one page on its website that includes pricing details so that you can make the best decision. One good resource is https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages/fishing-licenses-and-packages. Licenses can be purchased online or at many retail stores that sell other fishing supplies. Check the TPWD website for a list of retailers in your area.
September and October are great months to be out on the water across the State of Texas, so make sure that your fishing license is up to date. We hope to see you in the near future on a fishing trip along the Texas coast or in one of the many freshwater bodies of water that Texas has to offer anglers.