Fishing in Arizona

How Much Is a Fishing License in Arizona? (Regulations and Rules)

Besides its beautiful history as Mexican and Spanish territories and the Grand Canyon, there are many reasons to visit Arizona. For instance, this state has many exceptional hiking places, like the Bright Angel Trail, but did you know it’s a unique fishing destination? The Grand Canyon State may not be home to over 10,000 lakes like some American states, but it does have some prime fishing spots.

Despite being a landlocked state, Arizona has some unique fishing locales. These water bodies are brimming with huge fish populations, from trout-filled rivers to bass-filled lakes. And my dream destination in Arizona is Alamo Lake in Wenden. Created by the Alamo Dam and the runoff from River Bill Williams and River Colorado, the Alamo Lake occupies an area of about 3,500 acres.

Fly Rod for Bass
Fly Rod for Bass

My search for a trophy bass has made Alamo Lake my next destination; after all, the largest bass caught here weighed more than 23 pounds. The crystal clear waters of this park have beautiful mountainous terrain covered with brush surrounding them. It is truly a magical place.

But before legally enjoying these beautiful wishing spots, you need an Arizona fishing license. So after thorough research, I compiled the following guide on the fishing licenses in Arizona and more.

  • Resident general fishing license: $37.00
  • Non-resident general fishing license: $55.00
  • Youth combination hunt and fish license: $5.00
  • Resident combo hunt and fish license: $57.00
  • 1-Day Resident short-term combination fish and hunting license: $15.00

To learn more, here’s a link to the Arizona website. (source)

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Arizona’s Fishing Regulations onto your phone and double check just to be sure you know. Here’s a Shortcut Link to the Regs. PDF πŸ‘‰ Arizona Fishing Regulations PDF

Does Arizona Have Free Fishing?

Yes, Arizona does have a free fishing day that the locals celebrate as part of their national boating and fishing week. And in 2023, the free fishing day will be on June 3; everyone can fish the public waters without a license on this day. But the other fishing regulations will remain the same, like the daily bag limits.

Kids below the age of 10 fish for free all year round. However, Arizona will also exempt adults from purchasing fishing licenses on this date. Therefore, the free fishing day is a great day to test Arizona’s beautiful fresh waters finally. You can even rent fishing gear and use it for the day with family members and friends. 

Can Non-residents Fish for Free on Free Fishing Days in Arizona?

Yes, non-residents can also fish for free on the free fishing day in Arizona. Therefore, this day presents an excellent opportunity to test Arizona waters before purchasing a license.

Guide Pro Tip: Wondering where to cast a fly in Arizona? Check out this article. πŸ‘‰ Where to Fly Fish in Arizona

Types of Fishing Licenses in Arizona

Like in other American states, you need a license to fish in Arizona. Anyone over ten needs a license to cast their line in the public waters in Arizona. Therefore, the state’s Game and Fish Department has a wide range of permits for different age groups.

They even have a combo license for folks who love hunting and fishing. They also have short and long-term licenses. Some of their main permits include the following:

General Fishing License

The general fishing license is an annual permit that lets you explore the Arizona water. With this license, you can try both saltwater and freshwater fishing. You can legally cast your line in one of the world’s few salty rivers found in Arizona and chase your next trophy catch. Fortunately, this license is for both residents and non-residents, so you can purchase yours before visiting the Great Canyon state.

Combo Hunt and Fish License

If you love hunting, the residents can save cash by purchasing a combo license instead of two separate permits. On the other hand, non-residents don’t have a general hunting license, so they only get a combo package if they also want to fish. With the combo license, non-residents can fish and hunt, but they may have to purchase some permits, like the trout permit to catch trout.

Youth Combo Hunt and Fish Licenses

The state has a special combo license for the youths who love the outdoors and can do more than fishing. The combo license is available for both residents and non-resident youth. In fact, these options go for $5, so you can bring your kids along the next time you’re fishing or hunting in Arizona.

Short-Term Combo Fishing and Hunting Licenses

Suppose you plan fishing and hunting in Arizona for a few days. In that case, you should purchase short-term combo licenses instead of annual ones. Unlike most states, Arizona has a single-day short-term permit so that you can purchase several licenses depending on the days you’ll be outdoors.

In fact, you can even purchase a new 1-day license every morning before casting your line in Arizona’s waters.

Discount fishing license for seniors
Discount fishing license for seniors

Pioneer License

The pioneer license gives the holder the right to fish and hunt in Arizona. It also authorizes you to explore all the community water bodies. This license is for anglers over 70 who have lived in this state for over 25 consecutive years before applying for the permit.

The pioneer license is free of charge for everyone, and the holder can use it for their entire life. When applying for the pioneer license, you’ll need to present any of the following:

  • A valid US passport
  • Government-issued ID
  • Driver’s license
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate. (source)

Disabled Veteran License

Arizona’s second special license is for disabled veterans who love fishing and hunting. But they must have certification confirming permanent service-linked disability. The Veteran’s Administration offices issue the certificate. Besides the certification, you’ll need to stay in Arizona for over 12 months before the application date.

Purple Heart License

Arizona introduced the Purple Heart license on September 24, 2022, for individuals who have been in the state for over a year. The Purple Heart holders can buy a combo license in Arizona at half the standard price. (source)

Apprentice Hunting License

This license is free to anglers and hunters who will act as mentors and introduce others to hunting. This license is free and valid for two days. But to get one, you must be over 18 years old and have a good fishing and hunting license.

Lifetime License

Arizona does have a lifetime fishing license for residents only. These licenses vary depending on the age and purpose of the permit. Some of the lifetime licenses include:

  • General fishing lifetime license
  • Resident lifetime combination fish/hunt/trout license
  • Lifetime wildlife benefactor combo trout/fish/hunt license

To apply for the lifetime license, you should fill out this form. (4) And then wait for the response from Arizona’s department of fish and hunting.

General fishing$37.00$55.00
Combo hunt and fishing license$57.00$160.00
Youth combo hunt and fish license$5.00$5.00
Short-term combo hunt and fish license$15/day$20/day

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Arizona?

Bass fishing on a Lake Havasu
Bass fishing on a Lake Havasu

You can purchase your license online or in person from the many authorized dealers in Arizona. To buy the license online, all you have to do is click here. (source) Select the “purchase a license” icon and proceed to the login page. Finally, you can log in using your standard credentials, or if it’s your first time, you should create a new account and log in. You can also continue as a guest, purchase, and pay using your VISA or MasterCard.

Once you have checked out, you can print your license and start fishing. If you lose your license, you can reprint it online.

You can also get it from all the licensed dealers found all over the state. After finding the authorized dealer near your home, you can contact them and find their opening hours.

How Much Is an Arizona Fishing License at Walmart?  

You can also get an Arizona fishing license from Walmart at the same price as listed in the state’s official license. But you may have to pay a small processing and printing fee.

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Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in Arizona?

Generally, everyone has to follow several rules and regulations when fishing in Arizona. And breaking these rules can result in a hefty fine; in some cases, you may even lose your license.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to read these regulations before visiting any fishing spot in Arizona. Remember, some fishing destinations have their unique regulations, which may include the fishing method. Therefore, to access the fishing regulations for Arizona, you should click here.

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Arizona’s Fishing Regulations onto your phone and double check just to be sure you know. Here’s a Shortcut Link to the Regs. PDF πŸ‘‰ Arizona Fishing Regulations PDF

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Arizona?

Generally, anyone over ten years old requires a license to fish safely in this state’s public waters. But the kids below ten years and the blind folks don’t need one.

When Do Arizona Fishing Licenses Expire?

The annual fishing licenses in Arizona are valid for 365 days from the purchase date. On the other hand, the federal duck stamps and Arizona migratory bird stamps are valid between July 1 and June 30.

Can You Fish Without a License in Arizona?

Kids fishing
Kids fishing

The Free Fishing day notwithstanding, everyone over ten needs a license to fish in Arizona safely. But blind residents and kids below ten years old can fish for free all year round in the state-operated waters in Arizona.

Can You Fish on Private Property Without a License in Arizona? 

You don’t need a license to fish from an artificial lake, pond, or tank on private land. But it’s always a good idea to get permission from the land owner; after all, trespassing is illegal in Arizona, and you may get in trouble with the law for that.

What Is the Fine for Fishing Without a License in Arizona?

Fishing without a license is illegal, and if caught, you may have to pay a fine of up to $750. (source)

What Are the Fishing Seasons in Arizona?

Generally, fishing is open all year round in Arizona, but there are certain species you can’t harvest in certain months. In fact, some fishing destinations are closed to fishing in certain months. Therefore, if you’re chasing certain species, then you must find out their exact fishing season.

But you can visit Arizona anytime and still have fun if you’re not after any specific species. You may have to catch and release some species, but you will go home with a few for dinner.

Trout Fishing Season

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For trophy trout-chasing anglers, Arizona has more than enough to offer. Arizona is home to several trout lakes, with some open to anglers all year round. Unfortunately, most of these places only allow catch-and-release fishing methods. Some sites open all year round include Aker lake, Becker, lake Coyote Creek, Elk Tank, Grant Creek, J.D. Dam, Horton Creek, and East Verde River.

Trout fishing in Thompson Creek, Grapevine Creek, and Burro Creek is open to anglers between May 1 and December 31. At the River, Reservoir anglers can fish from October 1 to April 30.

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Bass Fishing Season

Bass fishing is open in Arizona all year round, but the fishing method varies. Some places allow only catch and release, while others don’t have a limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass. Some areas that only allow catch and release include Water Ranch Park Lake, the pond at the Gilbert town hall, and the Cluff Ranch ponds.

The places with no limit include Beaver Creek, Bear Canyon Lake, Knoll Lake, Oak Creek, Horseshoe Lake, Upper Salt River, and Long Tom Lake, among others.

Catfish Fishing Season

Another popular species that’s open to anglers all year round is catfish. Catfish are in several water bodies in Arizona. If you love harvesting catfish, you should try Knoll Lake, East Verde River, Black Canyon Lake, Oak Creek, Beaver Creek, and Bear Canyon Lake.

But if you don’t mind catch-and-release, then you should try Cluff Ranch Ponds, Lower Goldwater, and the Crystal Gardens Water treatment.

Fish speciesOpening dateClosing date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
CatfishJanuary 1December 31
BassJanuary 1December 31
Trout River ReservoirOctober 1 April 30
Trout Thompson CreekMay 1December 31

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in Arizona?

With this state’s natural wonders and beautiful landscapes, anglers have been flocking to Arizona’s lakes, reservoirs, and state parks for years. Arizona offers both saltwater and freshwater fishing. So, with the right gear and skills, you can have fun exploring the different things Arizona waters provide. Some of the best fishing destinations in Arizona include:

Lake Havasu State Park

Situated in Lake Havasu, this park is a unique largemouth impoundment and the best place for smallmouth bass fishing. Other species you can catch at Havasu include sunfish, catfish, and striped bass. The 450 miles long shoreline of this lake makes up the area where there is a 25-mile-long beautiful lake anglers love, well, I do anyway.

Therefore, if you’re looking for your next trophy catch, you should try this park; after all, anglers have been catching 5-pound bass here for years.

Roosevelt Lake

Another beautiful bass fishing destination in Arizona is Roosevelt Lake, situated in the Tonto National Forest. Thanks to its warm waters and brush coves, you will find nutrient-rich areas that attract a huge bass population.

Other fish thriving at Roosevelt Lake include catfish, striped, and white bass.

You can head to Salome Cove, Tonto Arm, and the Salt Arm, where massive bass species congregate. This area has some submerged trees and fish species waiting for your bait. The best place for colossal bass species is Tonto Creek. Remember, largemouth species occupy the cold, deep waters near Bass Island.

Lake Pleasant

Another popular fishing spot situated in the Phoenix region is Lake Pleasant. This lake is a vast reservoir considered a dream for people with power boats. You’ll find a wide range of fish species at Lake Pleasant, from tilapia and catfish to bass.

Lake Pleasant occupies an area of about 10,000 acres; plus, its 116 miles long shoreline makes it a great destination for anglers. This lake is a popular largemouth bass fishery, home to the only white bass population in Arizona. Remember, the phoenix region is the Sonoran Desert, so you should be prepared to fish at dawn and dusk.

Alamo Lake State Park

Another bass fishing destination, particularly largemouth bass, is Arizona, the best destination in the Western United States. Situated near Wenden town, this desert lake is in the beautiful parts of the Sonoran Desert.

Crappie fishing is also exceptional in Alamo Lake. Like Lake Havasu, the Alamo Lake does have an outstanding span of experience for beginners. Its unrestricted shores are some of the best places in the state for largemouth bass anglers.

For more details on where you can fish in Arizona, click here.

Can I Fish at Night in Arizona?

Yes, there is no law about fishing at night in Arizona; in fact, anglers have been fishing at night in the region for years. But you have to be prepared for the cold weather associated with the Sonoran Desert. Therefore, you should be dressed correctly and make sure you have proper lighting that can improve your visibility while not scaring the fish.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have in Arizona? 

Like in most places, anglers can use 2 rods in the Arizona waters.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Arizona if You’re Over 65?

A combination or annual fishing license is mandatory for non-residents and residents over ten years old. Therefore, seniors over 65 need a permit to fish in Arizona waters.

Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:

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  1. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, license, and fee structure, accessed February 8, 2023.
  2. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, Pioneer License Application, accessed February 8, 2023.
  3. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, Disabled veteran and purple heart license information, accessed February 8, 2023.
  4. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, Lifetime license application, accessed February 8, 2023.
  5. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, AZGFD License, accessed February 8, 2023.
  6. Arizona Game and Fish Department staff, 2023 and 2024 Fishing Regulation, accessed February 8, 2023.
  7. 13 News staff, Game and fish catching fishing violators, accessed February 8, 2023.
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