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How to Get A North Carolina Fishing License


How to Get A North Carolina Fishing License
Courtesy of Visit Lake Norman

Around the Charlotte area, there are plenty of great fishing spots - from Lake Norman to Lake Wylie to the Catawba River. But to fish in North Carolina, you do need a license. The good news is, it's easy and affordable. Here's everything you'll need to know about getting a fishing license in North Carolina.

Who needs a license to fish?

For the most part, anyone over the age of 16. There are some exceptions though(see below).

Here's the cost breakdown:

Short Term (10 days)

  • Inland fishing - $5
  • Coastal Fishing - $5


  • Statewide inland (basic) - $15
  • Statewide coastal - $15

There are several other specialized types of fishing licenses and even a lifetime licenses available. You can check those out here. But for basic fisherman, this is what you'll need.

Special free licenses: The following people must have a license, but there is no charge for it.

  • Legally blind
  • Residents of an adult care home
  • Residents who receive Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Work First Family Assistance

How to purchase a North Carolina fishing license:

  • Online using a VISA or MasterCard. Printer recommended.
  • By telephone at 888-248-6834, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • In person, at a wildlife service agent.

Fishing License Exceptions
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and a fishing license in North Carolina is the same. Here's who is EXEMPT from needing a fishing license:

  • Persons under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a basic inland fishing and trout privilege license.
  • The game lands license is not required to fish in any waters on game lands or Wildlife Conservation Areas.
  • An inland fishing license is not required to fish in a private pond. A pond or lake located on land owned by a public body such as a state supported university or a governmental entity is not a private pond.
  • July 4th is declared “FREE FISHING DAY,” and a fishing license and trout privilege license are not required in any public waters on this date.
  • Residents with a valid Unified Subsistence Inland/Coastal Recreation Fishing License Waiver are exempt from requirement of a basic inland or coastal recreational fishing license.
  • A landowner or person leasing land primarily for cultivation, their spouse, and dependents under 18 residing with them, may hunt, trap and fish on such land without a license.
  • A resident of this state who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States serving outside the state, or who is on full-time military duty outside the state in a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States is exempt from hunting, inland and coastal fishing license requirements while on leave in this state for 30 days or less. Those who qualify for this exemption shall carry on his or her person at all times, during the hunting or fishing activity, their military identification card and a copy of the official document confirming they are on authorized leave from a duty station outside of North Carolina.

Now that you have your fishing license, you'll need to know what you're looking for! Wondering what type of fish you'll find in lakes around Charlotte?

Click here to find out all about fishing in Lake Wylie
Click here to find out all about fishing in Lake Lure
Click here to find out all about fishing in Lake Norman

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