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Ask Outdoors: Do You Need a Fishing License To Fish in a National Park?

The question “Do you need a fishing license to fish in a national park?” seems like it should have a straightforward answer, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already realized that it doesn’t.

When you search the National Parks Service’s website, it explains that fishing regulations vary from park to park. And when Outdoors.com asked the parks service for a more direct answer, a spokesman said that “permitting is park specific.”  

What that means is before you fish at a national park, you should first check with the park to see if you need a fishing license and if fishing is even allowed. 

Part of the reason why fishing licenses are issued locally is the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1997, according to Fish Verify, a phone app that gives users access to a database of fishing regulations. 

On its website, the company explained that the federal law made it illegal to fish without a license and largely handed over control of fish licensing systems to the states. 

In turn, money collected through the licensing systems and fines from those fishing without a license is used to fund a variety of programs ranging from angler education to protecting fish populations and restocking ponds and lakes.  

Even though the cost of a fishing license varies by state, they’re relatively affordable, with prices ranging from $15 to $100 depending on residency and type of fish. 

Still, there are some who think fishing licenses should be treated like more driver’s licenses, meaning they’re recognized in every state. Their argument is it would make it easier for those traveling to fish.

The counter to that argument is that fishing is more popular in some areas than in others. Therefore, the money raised in those areas through the licensing programs would adequately correspond to the demand.

Do you have a question we can answer? Email [email protected].

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