Kentucky Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations
The state of Kentucky uses the money it receives from the sale of a fishing license to promote and maintain the state’s recreational fishing for the younger generation and future generations of anglers. Two of the best places for family fishing trips are Three Springs Lake and Camp Ernst Lake. The Kentucky River has a vibrant and healthy population of flathead and channel catfish, crappie, trout and small bass, suckers, walleye, and species of panfish. First, however, a valid KY fishing license and knowledge of the state’s fishing laws are required.
Buying a fishing license online from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources is quick and hassle-free. But for those who prefer to shop in person, there are outdoor sports stores and fishing shops that are authorized sellers of a fishing license.
There are fisheries laws and regulations that serve as guidelines for joint efforts to conserve and maintain fish populations. In addition to general fishing laws, there are specific regulations for a particular state, location, waterway, and species of fish. It is therefore recommended to inquire about local fishing regulations to avoid deviations.
Kentucky Fishing Licenses
A responsible and concerned angler takes the time to perform the proper catch and release to aid in conservation efforts not just in Kentucky but across the country. Whether a fish should be released due to regulations or personal choice, the action must be quick and stress-free for the fish. It is best to hold a fish level and with wet hands when it is about to be released. The eye and gill areas should not be touched if the fish is to survive.
With its beautiful water and seascape, Kentucky is one of the most admirable and exciting fishing destinations in the world. For one, the state is home to the best family fishing spots like Camp Ernst Lake or Three Springs Lake.
However, before you go fishing in Kentucky’s rich waters, you must first obtain a fishing license. Technically speaking, they are a contribution that you make to ensure that the waters remain fishable for years to come, so that the next generation can still enjoy the same beauty that you enjoy now.
But how exactly do you get a fishing license in the state of Kentucky? Long story short, you have to buy one. If you don’t already know how to do this, this article will teach you everything you need to know about fishing licenses in Kentucky.
Who Must Get a Fishing License in the State of Kentucky?
To fish in Kentucky waters, all individuals – residents and non-residents alike – must complete and carry an appropriate license and permit to fish in all Kentucky waters. The minimum age for holding a fishing license is 16 and older anglers must acquire one if planning to fish in the state.
Fishing licenses required per person vary depending on whether they are a resident or not. In the state of Kentucky, a resident is a person who has permanent and legal residence in Kentucky and who has resided in Kentucky for 30 days prior to applying for a license. A resident includes full-time students who have been enrolled in an educational institution for at least six months or military service personnel on permanent duty in Kentucky. Anyone who does not meet the above criteria is considered a non-resident and should acquire a non-resident license prior to fishing in the state’s waters. Those who own land in Kentucky but did not reside in the state within 30 days of applying for the license must obtain licenses and permits for non-residents.
It is important to note that the same requirements apply to non-resident youth hunters as to resident youth hunters.
How Do I Buy a Kentucky Fishing License?
There are three different ways to get a Kentucky fishing license. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it depends on you which one is the most convenient for you.
License purchase in person
The easiest way to buy a Kentucky fishing license is to buy it in person. Licenses and permits can be obtained from more than 900 locations nationwide. These include country stores, some county officials, local hunting and fishing companies, and some chain stores selling outdoor sporting goods. You can check that out shortcut if you want to know where to buy a fishing license in your area.
Buy license online
If buying a fishing license from a Kentucky store is a chore for you, you can buy it online. All Kentucky hunting and fishing licenses and permits are available through the secured shop Kentucky Fish and Wildlife online license sales page.
The online platform accepts payments by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover Card or a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Gift Certificatethat you can also buy online.
Note that you cannot obtain a physical license when purchasing online. Instead, you will be given an authorization number or a computer printout. This is what you need to bring along with photo ID to be allowed to fish.
Buy a license over the phone
Aside from the methods of buying a license in Kentucky mentioned earlier, you can also request one over the phone 877-598-2401which is open 24/7. Note that all licenses and permits, except handicap ID, elk drawing application, and youth licenses and permits, can be purchased through the hotline. A convenience fee may be charged when purchasing a license over the phone. You can pay your final bill by Visa, Mastercard or Discover card or by e-check. Similar to purchasing a license online, you will receive an authorization number when purchasing over the phone.
You can also request a paper license or permit (excluding short term licenses) which will be mailed to you. Upon receipt, you must fill it out and sign it for it to be valid.
Different types of fishing licenses in Kentucky
As mentioned earlier, different types of licenses are required by different people depending on several factors such as residence, age, and other special considerations. Here is a summary of all of the general permits you can get in the state of Kentucky:
|License / permit||Residents||Not resident|
|Annual fishing||$ 23.00||$ 55.00|
|Joint / Spouse Annual fishing||$ 42.00||Not available|
|1 day fishing||$ 7.00||$ 15.00|
|3 year fishing (only online)||$ 55.00||Not available|
|Non-resident 7 day fishing||Not available||$ 35.00|
|Trout permit||$ 10.00||$ 10.00|
|Annual combination hunting / fishing||$ 42.00||Not available|
|Senior / Disabled Sportsman’s * (Contains the same license and permits as the Resident Sportsman’s License, plus additional game permits.)||$ 12.00||Not available|
|Sportsman’s License * (Includes hunting / fishing combination, state deer permit, spring and autumn turkey permit, state permit for migratory waterfowl and trout.)||$ 95.00||Not available|
|Youth (Age 12-15) Sportsman’s License * (Includes a youth hunting license, a youth game license and 2 youth turkey ID cards.)||$ 30.00||Not available|
annual fishing license
Anglers keen to fish in Kentucky waters have the option to avail of an annual fishing license that runs from March 1st through May 28th / 29th. Valid for February of next year for only $ 23.00 (residents) and $ 55.00 for non-residents. Resident Spouse Joint License can also be purchased for as little as $ 42.00.
If you plan to go fishing for a few days, you also have the option to get a one-day fishing permit for as little as $ 7.00 (residents) and $ 15.00 (non-residents) to take. In addition, residents also have the option to purchase a 3-day license for just $ 55.00, while non-residents can get a 7-day license for $ 35.00. Please note that the three-day exclusive authorization can only be used for online purchases.
Local residents can also purchase a combo license that allows them to legally participate in both hunting and fishing activities. The cost of combination licenses is $ 42.00 and the athlete license is $ 95.00, with special discounts available to seniors and disabled athletes. Children between the ages of 12 and 15 can also purchase a combined sports license for just $ 30.00.
Daily fishing restrictions in Kentucky
In the interests of sustainability, the state of Kentucky also imposes statewide species and size restrictions on fishing in its waters. It is important to note that some bodies of water have different size and gate limits. For more information, see or follow the operator’s “Special Rules” section shortcut.
Here is a summary of the state-wide type and size restrictions in the state of Kentucky:
|SPORT FISH SPECIES||Daily limit||Ownership limit||Minimal size limit|
|Black bass||Largemouth Bass||6 *||12 *||12 “|
|Small mouth perch||6 *||12 *||12 “|
|Kentucky (Spotted) Bass||6 *||12 *||none|
|Coosa bass||6 *||12 *||none|
|Zander, suckers and their hybrids||6 *||12 *||14 ”|
|Muscle lungs||1||2||30 “|
|White & Hybrid Striped Bass||15 **||30 **||none **|
|Crappie (black and white)||20 *||40 *||none|
|Brown trout||1||2||16 “|
|Brown trout||Just catch and release ***|
|Sea sturgeon||Just catch and let go|
* Single or combined; overall these types
** No more than 5 fish in the day gate limit may be longer than 15 inches.
*** With the exception of the Cumberland River downstream of Wolf Creek Dam and the upper section of Hatchery Creek, see the Special Regulations section for details.
frequently asked Questions
Q: How many rods can I have while fishing?
There is no limit to the number of fishing rods and poles you can fish in Kentucky waters.
Q: Can I clean my fish on the water?
Anglers must not remove any part of the head or tail, or any fish that has a size or gate limit, until they are finished fishing and out of the water.
Q: Do I need a trout license?
To catch trout in Kentucky, you must obtain a trout permit for $ 10.00. Persons who are exempt from the license are also exempt from this obligation. In addition, all licensed anglers fishing the portion of the Cumberland River from Wolf Creek Dam to the Tennessee state line, its tributaries to the First Reef and all of Hatchery Creek must have a trout permit.