Do You Need To Renew Your Fishing License? - The Fisherman

Do You Need To Renew Your Fishing License?

The ball has dropped, the champagne popped and you’ve made your resolutions known. But with the beginning of a new year, the calendar and smoke alarm batteries are not the only things we have to change. It’s easy to forget to that most states require anglers to update their fishing licenses as of January 1st each year. And you don’t want to spoil your ‘Happy New Year’ with a ticket from your local environmental enforcement officer.

Starting With Salt

All of the New England states that feature a saltwater shoreline (CT, RI, MA, NH and ME) require that your license to be renewed as of January 1 each year. The cost of these licenses varies from state to state and there’s one caveat that anglers need to be aware of. Maine charges $1 for their saltwater license, but for that reason, their saltwater license is only one in New England that is not reciprocal with other states. So if you plan on saltwater fishing any time soon, make sure to renew your license before you go.


Saltwater Reciprocity Agreements:

Maine:                        NH & MA saltwater licenses are valid

New Hampshire:        MA saltwater licenses are valid

Massachusetts:         NH, RI & CT saltwater licenses are valid

Rhode Island:            MA, CT, ME & NY saltwater licenses are valid

Connecticut:              MA, RI, NY & ME saltwater licenses are valid


In The Fresh

Luckily every state in New England, except one, are in agreement on when their freshwater licenses should expire. For those fishing in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, your freshwater fishing license will expire every year on December 31st. The outlier, of course, is Rhode Island whose freshwater license expires on February 28th annually.


There are no reciprocity agreements between states for freshwater fishing so, if you wish to fish in out-of-state freshwater lakes, ponds or rivers, you will be required to purchase an out-of-state license to be in compliance with the law. The fees of these licenses vary and they tend to be a little steep for non-residents, but they’ll be a far cry from the number at the bottom of your citation should you be caught fishing without the proper documentation.


One gray area that might confuse some anglers is fishing for saltwater species in waters that are considered to be fresh. This is really only applies to striped bass but a good rule of thumb is that if you’re fishing above (north of) the first bridge on any estuary or tidal river, you should have a freshwater license to be in compliance with the law. And that rule applies to the Housatonic River in Connecticut, you’ve been warned and these officers have seen every possible version of the ‘reciprocity play’ many times and it will not work.


Let this short post serve as your reminder that nearly all of the recreational fishing licenses in New England need to be renewed as of January 1st, and with the weather we’ve been having, you’re going to need it sooner than you might expect. Happy new year!