Fishing Licenses in Washington D.C.


You should seek a Washington D.C. recreational fishing license if you are interested in fishing in the District’s waters for sport. A sport fishing license allows residents and nonresidents alike to take fish and other aquatic creatures from D.C. waters. The presence of recreational fishing licenses also helps to regulate the act of fishing in the District so that its habitats can be preserved and protected. Licenses help ensure that outside fish are not introduced into the District where they should not be and the existing native species are not taken out of waters in harmful volumes.

The D.C. freshwater fishing license is sold starting in November each year, and most licenses are valid through the following calendar year. The District’s freshwater fishing permit is issued by the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The permit is available at different prices to residents and non-residents.

Who needs a fishing license in Washington D.C.?

>A game fishing license is required for most people who want to fish recreationally in Washington D.C. You will need a recreational freshwater fishing license if you are between the ages of 16 and 65. This requirement came into effect starting January 1, 1988, in order to ensure that only properly licensed anglers were taking fish in D.C.

Washington D.C. Fishing License Requirements

In order to obtain a resident freshwater fishing license, you must prove your Washington D.C. residency. Resident fishing licenses are available at a discounted rate, and to receive this discount, you need to present some proof that you have lived in D.C. for long enough to be considered a resident.

You must also present your freshwater fishing permit if at any time it is requested from you by District authorities. Therefore, you should keep your Washington D.C. game fishing license on you at all times. The same goes for scientific collection permits obtained in the District.

Note: A game fishing license only allows you to legally fish recreationally. You are not allowed to take fish for commercial purposes.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Washington D.C.

You do need a sport fishing license to take fish in D.C., but the type of sport license you purchase will depend on whether or not you are a resident. D.C. fishing licenses can be broken down into the following two categories:

  • Resident fishing licenses
  • Nonresident fishing licenses

All anglers ages 16 to 64 must purchase one of those two licenses to fish in Washington D.C.

What types of fish can I catch with fishing licenses in Washington D.C.?

A Washington D.C. recreational fishing license allows you to take and attempt to take certain game fish —as long as you adhere to size requirements and creel limits (i.e., the amount of game fish you can take in one day). Recreational fishing licenses permit you to take fish such as the following:

  • Channel catfish: Must be at least 12 inches. Creel limit is 3 per day.
  • Largemouth bass: Must be at least 12 inches (15 inches between March 1 and June 15). Creel limit is 5 per day.
  • Smallmouth bass: Must be at least 12 inches (15 inches between March 1 and June 15). Creel limit is 5 per day.
  • Walleye: Must be at least 14 inches. Creel limit is 1 per day.
  • Yellow perch: Must be at least 8 inches. Creel limit is 3 per day.

However, a sport fishing license does not allow you to fish for these species (except during certain posted seasons):


  • Alewife
  • American shad
  • Blueback herring
  • Chain pickerel
  • Hickory shad
  • Longnose gar
  • Northern pike
  • Sturgeon
  • Striped bass (Rockfish)

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Washington D.C.?

A regular freshwater fishing license in Washington D.C. does not give you permission to collect fish for scientific purposes. You must purchase a special Scientific Collection Permit for that purpose. Prices for the permit vary depending on whether you are a nonprofit or for-profit research organization.

How long is a fishing license valid in Washington D.C.?

Most fishing licenses in D.C. are valid from January 1 to December 31 of the same calendar year. However, freshwater fishing permits in the District are available for different lengths of time. You can purchase a freshwater fishing permit for the following amounts of time:

  • One year (Residents and nonresidents)
  • 14 days (nonresidents)

How much does a Washington D.C. fishing license cost?

If you are looking to purchase a freshwater fishing license in the District, you will need to know what to expect to pay. Recreational fishing licenses in Washington D.C. come in the following price options:

  • Annual resident recreational fishing license – $10
  • Annual nonresident recreational fishing license – $13
  • 14-day nonresident recreational fishing license – $6.50

If you want a fishing license for scientific purposes, you can obtain the following permits:

  • Scientific Collection Permit (for nonprofits or public institutions) – Free
  • Scientific Collection Permit (for-profit research organizations) – $50

Related Guides

Fishing Licenses in Washington D.C.
Best Tuna Recipes

A tuna recipe can take many forms, and Fis…


Fishing Licenses in Washington D.C.
Best Salmon Recipes

Try one of these simple and delicious reci…


Fishing Licenses in Washington D.C.
Buying a Fishing Boat

Anglers may buy a fishing boat of various …


Are fishing license discounts available in Washington D.C.?

Game fishing license discounts are available for residents, and licenses are totally free for youths under 16 and seniors 65 or older.

Where can I get a fishing license in Washington D.C.?

You can buy a freshwater fishing permit in one of two ways:

  • At one of Washington D.C.’s approved fishing license vendors
  • Online

How can I replace my Washington D.C. fishing license?

To replace your recreational fishing license in Washington D.C., contact the Fisheries and Wildlife Division.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here