Fishing Licenses in North Dakota


Anglers fishing in North Dakota for sport must have a valid recreational fishing license and follow all state fishing regulations that apply to the body of water on which they are fishing. A sport fishing license enables anglers to catch and possess freshwater fish available in ND whereas a commercial fishing license permits anglers to take and sell fish for profit. The following article details essential commercial and game fishing license information that anglers can use when considering purchasing a fishing license.

Who needs a fishing license in North Dakota?

All resident and nonresident anglers 16 years old or older are required to have a commercial or recreational fishing license except on free-fishing days. However, residents younger than 16 years old may fish without a game fishing license if they only take a limited number of fish. Additionally, nonresidents younger than 16 can participate if accompanied by a licensed angler.

Other exceptions to the game and fish fishing license requirement include active military service members stationed in ND. While not exempt from the requirement, nonresident anglers attending a state or tribal college or private university full-time may be eligible for a resident freshwater fishing license rather than a nonresident license.

North Dakota Fishing License Requirements

To understand the answer to “What is sport fishing license?” anglers must be familiar with licensing requirements. To get a ND fishing license, anglers must meet age, residency and financial requirements to cover costs. They must also present all necessary documents that verify their birth dates, addresses and identities. Additionally, all anglers must first purchase a freshwater fishing license certificate before receiving a license.

Age requirements set by the ND Game and Fish Department dictate that anglers applying for a recreational freshwater fishing license must be at least 16 years old. Freshwater fishing permit requirements also state that residents of the state are defined as anglers who have lived in and maintained their legal residence for a minimum of six months. However, a waiver of residency form may be completed to request an exception for which military service members may be eligible. A non-resident freshwater fishing license is available for all other anglers.

Types of Fishing Licenses in North Dakota

Since no commercial or recreational saltwater fishing licenses are provided in ND, licenses are divided into two, main categories. The first category offers residents recreational and commercial fishing permits, and the second is directed towards nonresidents. Types of resident sport fishing licenses include basic fishing licenses, combination licenses, husband and wife licenses, senior citizen licenses, disabled licenses and disabled veteran licenses.

The following types of nonresident recreational fishing licenses are offered in the state:

  • Individual season fishing
  • Husband and wife season fishing
  • Three-day fishing
  • 10-day fishing

Both residents and nonresidents may purchase paddlefish tags in ND as well.Unlike recreational fishing, the only type of commercial fishing license available for purchase is the noncontract commercial fishing permit issued for certain waters and times.

What types of fish can I catch with fishing licenses in North Dakota?

Anglers with recreational fishing licenses can take advantage of great pike fishing and catch species such as perch, sunfish, bass, drum, sturgeon and trout. In fact, most freshwater fish can be harvested with a valid sport fishing license issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.However, commercial fishing licenses may not be used to take legal, live baitfish or game fish except catfish.

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in North Dakota?

While most fish do not require more than a basic ND fishing license to harvest, a paddlefish tag is required for all paddlefish snaggers.

How long is a fishing license valid in North Dakota?

All recreational resident freshwater fishing licenses are valid for one year, beginning on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year. Nonresident freshwater fishing licenses are valid for either a full season (i.e. April to the following March) or the specified period listed on the temporary license (e.g. three days). A commercial freshwater fishing license, however, is valid for one commercial fishing season – May 15 to November 30.

How much does a North Dakota fishing license cost?

The freshwater fishing license cost depends on the type of license. A list of all recreational fishing licenses and their associated costs is provided below:

  • Basic fishing license
    • $16 residents
    • $45 non-residents
  • Husband and wife fishing license
    • $22 residents
    • $60 non-residents
  • Senior citizen license $5
  • Disabled license $5
  • Disabled veteran license $5
  • Paddlefish tags
    • $10 residents
    • $25.50 non-residents
  • Three-day license $25
  • 10-day license $35
  • Combination license $50

The commercial fishing license price is calculated based on the equipment anglers choose to use. Hoop nets cost $15 per net, seines are $15 per 50 feet and set lines are free.





Note: A $1 (residents)or $2 (non-residents) ND fishing license certificate must be purchased each year.

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Are fishing license discounts available in North Dakota?

Discounts on ND recreational fishing licenses are available to residents. Seniors ages 65 and older, disabled residents or veterans and active military service members may be eligible for reduced cost freshwater fishing licenses after presenting proof of their ages, disabilities or military involvement.

Where can I get a fishing license in North Dakota?

New recreational fishing licenses are only available online through electronic licensing retailers. However, not all ND fishing license vendors that issued paper licenses prior to 2016 are able to sell electronic licenses, so interested anglers should review a list of approved retailers. Commercial fishing permits can be obtained by completing the designated online application form ,and mailing it to the ND Game and Fish Department’s address printed on the form.

How can I replace my North Dakota fishing license?

To replace a commercial or recreational fishing license in ND, anglers must request a replacement at any regional Game and Fish Department offices, license agencies or from the department’s website by logging in.

Note: A nominal fee of $5 will be charged for replacements requested at offices or agencies.


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