Fishing in Idaho

How Much Is a Fishing License in Idaho? (Regulations and More)

Thanks to its over 3,500,000 miles of rivers, the United States has always had something for anglers like me. But one state that has never disappointed is Idaho, especially when it comes to trout fishing; after all, this state is known as one of the best destinations for trout in North America. I have caught hundreds of trout over the years in Idaho, notably Henry Lake, where I caught my first trout with my uncle as a teen.

I have visited several trout fishing destinations over the last few years, but one of the key things that have always stood out is how easy it is to get a fishing license in Idaho. Plus, the fact that you can cast over two lines at once after paying for a  two-pole stamp has always been a bonus. Therefore, after doing more research, I decided to compile the following article on the price of fishing licenses in Idaho; after all, you need a license to do what you love in Idaho.

  • Annual Idaho Resident: $30.50
  • Annual youth resident: $ 16.00
  • Annual adult non-resident: $108.00
  • 1st Day resident: $13.50 ((you can pay $6 per day for the other consecutive days) 
  • 1st Day non-resident: $22.75 (you can pay $7 per day for the other consecutive days)

*Idaho has a “Access / Depredation Fee” which is applied to the first license purchase of the year. Prices range from $2 to $10.

To learn more, here is a link to the Idaho website on resident and non-resident.

Does Idaho Have a Free Fishing Day?

Yes, Idaho does have a Free Fishing Day. The Game and Fish Department annually holds a Free Fishing Day on the Saturday of June. It was held on June 11, 2022, for example. On this day, the entire state gets to celebrate fishing, and no license is required. Therefore, if you have never tried fly fishing, this may be the best time to learn how to fly fish.

Plus, there are several events in all the fishing spots all over Idaho organized by the Game personnel with the help of several event organizers. These events intend to help introduce folks to fishing while helping the new angler perfect their skills. Plus, there are several loaner reels and rods for first-timers to try fishing, but this doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to carry your gear if you have one. (source)

But you still have to follow the rules and regulations of fishing in Idaho, including the creel limits and using the right bait and fishing method.

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

Yes, during the free Fishing Day, anyone in Idaho can participate in these events, including residents and non-residents. Therefore, non-residents can have fun and get their fishing licenses the next day. Plus, this can be an opportunity for residents to try a new fishing spot without paying for a license.

Table of Fishing License Costs in Idaho

Fishing adult$30.5$108.00
Fishing-adult (3 years)$73.75$320.00
Fishing daily (first day)$13.50$22.00
Fishing-Junior (14-17 years)$16.00$23.75
Fishing-Junior (14-17 years) (3 years) (non-resident junior who
need their fish limit need to purchase a fishing license)
Fishing two pole$15.00$17.00

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Idaho?

Like most states, Idaho has done everything possible to make it easy for resident and non-resident anglers to get their licenses. Therefore, if you’re not in Idaho, you can purchase it online from the comfort of your home. You must go to their official website, access their online license-selling portal, and purchase your license. (source)

You can also buy the permits from some authorized local vendors or at the Games and fishing department’s regional offices. You can get a printed option from the local vendors, but when purchased online, you must print it first. Remember, when buying your fishing license online or via phone call, you will have to pay for the processing fee.  

How Much Are Idaho Fishing Licenses at Walmart?

If accessing the local vendors and regional offices is impossible, you can visit the local Walmart store and talk to the guys working at the games and recreational sports department. The price of Idaho fishing licenses for anglers between the age of 16 and 65 goes for $19. Therefore, you can get your Idaho license before leaving your home.

Where Can I Get the Fish Regulations in Idaho?

Despite being a recreational sport that millions of anglers love, there are some rules and regulations that everyone has to follow. These rules ensure the continuity of these fish species, which is why we have fishing seasons and the exact number of fish you can take home at the end of the day. Some places only allow the angler to only catch-and-release.

Fortunately, Idaho’s fishing department has uploaded a booklet on their rules and regulations online, which anyone can access. (source) Therefore, before leaving your home with your gear, you should download the booklet from their official website and go through the rules; after all, they contain everything you need to practice safe fishing. It can also help you protect your license and avoid penalties and jail terms in the worst-case scenario.

What Is the Fishing Age Requirement for Idaho?

How much is a fishing license in Idaho
How much is a fishing license in Idaho

In Idaho, anyone over 14 needs a license to cast their lines. Therefore, anyone between the ages of 14 and 17 (non-residents and residents) requires a valid youth fishing license. But this doesn’t mean that your other kids under 14 years old can’t tag along on your next fly-fishing trip. Idaho does allow kids below 14 years old to fish for free.

Unlike most states, when it comes to age requirements, there is very little difference between non-residents and residents. The age requirement for all the different types of fishing licenses is the same.

When Do the Idaho Fishing Licenses Expire?

The expiry date of the different Idaho fishing licenses varies with duration. For instance, short-term fishing licenses have a set expiry date, while annual licenses last 12 months. They are valid for a single calendar year from January 1 to December 31. (source)

Idaho also introduced a 3-year fishing license that lasts for three calendar years. The three years license expires on December 31 of the third year. Fortunately, the three years resident fishing license doesn’t expire when you relocate to another state. Instead, the Department of Fish and Games can convert it to a non-resident license and let you fish for the remainder of the duration. (source)

Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout
Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout

Can You Fish Without a License in Idaho?

The answer to this question is yes and no. There are certain days and places where you don’t need a fishing license, but in most cases, you will require a fishing license. Plus, kids below 14 years old don’t need a license to fish in state-owned waters.

Adults can fish on the state-owned water bodies without a fishing license on Free Fishing Day. They can even take part in several fishing events designed to help newbies perfect their skills while ensuring that first-timers get a feel of fishing.

Can You Fish on Private Property Without a License?

Yes, the fishing license intends to help the state accumulate enough funds to help them take care of the state-owned and operated water bodies, which is not the case with the ponds on private land. After all, the owners maintain the privately owned ponds, which can fish without a license.

Therefore, the law dictates that you don’t need a license to fish on private property, but you do need a license. After all, entering someone’s property without permission is illegal, and you can face prosecution. Plus, if the owner allows you to fish, they won’t ask you for a license; you only have to follow their rules to fish safely on their property.

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

The Idaho Code 36-1402 stipulates that anyone found fishing without a license and who gets convicted may face a jail term of about six months and pay a fine of about $1,000 and court charges. In the worst-case scenario, the court may revoke your rights to own a fishing license for up to 3 years. The court has a right to impose one or a combination of these punishments. (source)

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What Is the Fishing Season in Idaho?

Generally, Idaho’s waters are usually open to the public all year round. Still, some of these unique fishing spots have some special rules and shorter seasons for one reason or the other. Therefore, before finding out the best time to tour Idaho, you need to understand that the fishing and game region splits into seven regions, and these include:

  • Panhandle Region
  • Clearwater Region
  • Southwest Region
  • Magic Valley Region
  • Southeast Region
  • Upper Snake Region
  • Salmon Region

Remember, some lakes and species have a closed season for the better part of the year; therefore, you must confirm the fishing seasons for the region you plan to visit before leaving your home. Plus, if you plan on carrying most of your catch, then you should do your research.

Panhandle Region

In the Panhandle region, all the waters are open all year round. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, at the Deep Creek and Pack River and its branches and Clark Fork River and its tributaries, you can only catch and release Rainbow trout from December 1 to the Friday before Memorial Day. (source)

At the St. Marie River and its branches, you’re not allowed to harvest trout with orange or red slash beneath its jaws from December 1 to the Memorial Day weekend. Most water bodies in the Panhandle region tend to limit the number of fish you can harvest from December 1 to the Memorial Day weekend, with most allowing anglers to harvest only two trout per day per person.

Other rivers like the Trestle Creek and its branches are closed to fishing all year round. (9)

Clearwater Region

All waters are open in the Clearwater region, but the daily bag limit varies with the destination. For instance, from Memorial Day weekend to November 30, the bag limit from Clearwater River, Middle Fork, and Lochsa Rivers are usually reduced to 2 trout. From the North Fork of the Clearwater River and Selway River, anglers can only practice catch-and-release from December 1 to Memorial Day Weekend. (source

Southwest Region

Even though the fishing season is open all year round in the Southwest Region, there are several water bodies with limitations. Some have lowered the bag limit for some species to 2 and under a certain length, while others demand catch-and-release.

For instance, some lakes, like Lake Lowell, don’t allow anglers to catch bass from the beginning of the year to the end of June, and for the rest of the year, they let anglers only carry two bass fish home.

At the South Fork of Boise River, anglers can only practice catch and release from the beginning of December to the end of March. The Boise River is closed from April to the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. (source) The Sage Hen Reservoir Tributaries are usually closed to fishing between December 1 and June 15.

Magic Valley Region

In the Magic Valley Region, you can fish all the species at any time of the year unless otherwise. But you must ensure that you don’t exceed your bag limit to avoid penalties. Some places, like the Big Wood River Tributaries, allow catch-and-release from December 1 to the end of March before closing on Memorial day weekend. You can only catch and carry trout from this river between Memorial Day weekend and the end of November.

A section of the Big Wood River is usually closed between April 1 and the Memorial Day weekend. But you can fish and have a trout limit of about 6 per day for the rest of the year.

Southeast Region

Like most other regions, you can fish any species except the Sturgeon during an open season, which in most places is all year round. With Sturgeon, you’re only allowed to practice catch and release.

Fortunately, most of the water bodies in this region are open all year round, except for a few. Some water bodies like Fish Haven Creek, First Creek, Charles Creek, and the Blackfoot River are closed on December 1 and June 30. (9)  

Upper Snake Region

Another region that allows you to fish a wide range of fish species all year round with little to no restrictions is the Upper Snake Region. But you’re not allowed to harvest Cutthroat trout at Beaver Creek, Fish Creek, Fall River, and Henry Fork. Some lakes like Henrys Lake and Golden Lake are close to fishing all year round. (9)

Another species that you cannot harvest in some fishing spots like the Teton River is the Rainbow Trout. Unfortunately, Teton River is usually closed for fishing in June.

Fly Fishing for Salmon
Fly Fishing for Salmon

Salmon Region

In the Salmon region, you can fish all the different fish species except the Sturgeon. But each destination has unique rules and regulations about when you can fish and how much you can harvest. For instance, you cannot harvest cutthroat trout at the East Fork and North Fork of Salmon River between Memorial Day weekend and November 30.

You cannot also harvest kokanee at Redfish Lake between August 8 and December 31.

Generally, most fish species are open season, but there are a few species that you can only fish during a specific period. Some fish species have their unique open season, as shown in the table below:

Fish speciesOpening dateClosed date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
TroutMay 29November 30
WalleyeJuly 1August 31
SalmonMay 1October 31
BassJanuary 1June 30

Frequently Asked Questions for Fishing in Idaho

Where Can I Fish in Idaho?

Idaho is fishing heaven that is known for its high trout population. Therefore, you can fish in a wide range of water bodies split into seven regions, including Clearwater, Panhandle, Magic Valley, and Salmon regions. Some of the best fishing spots in Idaho include Brownlee reservoir, Big Wood River, and Fishhook Creek, among others. For more details on the best fishing destinations in Idaho, please follow the following link.  

Can I Fish at Night in Idaho?

Generally, Idaho is open to fishing all year round, including at night. But you must ensure you’re well dressed and have the right gear for the cold, dark night; the best time for catching some species is at night.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have?

Another reason why Idaho is an angler’s haven is because of the number of fishing poles you can use at a time. Idaho is one of the few states letting you use two rods and lines simultaneously, but you will have to pay a permit to use over two poles when fishing. But every fishing spot has rules and regulations, so you must examine the regulation booklets before leaving your home.

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

Yes, in Idaho, anyone over 17 years is considered an adult. Therefore, anyone over 65 must have a fishing license when fishing on state-owned waters. The cost of an adult fishing license for residents is about $30.5, and non-residents have to pay $108.00 to fish in Idaho for over 365 days.   

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  1. Idaho Government staff, Free Fishing Day, Accessed September 25, 2022.
  2. Idaho Government staff, Licenses, Tags, and Permits – residents, Accessed September 25, 2022.
  3. Idaho Government staff, Licenses, Tags, and Permits – non-residents, Accessed September 25, 2022.
  4. Idaho Government staff, 2022 Licensing and tags, Accessed September 25, 2022.
  5. Idaho Government staff, Idaho Fishing (2022-2024 seasons and rules) Accessed September 25, 2022.
  6. Idaho Government staff, Is a fishing license good till the end of the year or 365 days from purchase? Accessed September 25, 2022.
  7. Idaho Government staff Lifetime Licenses/certificates, Accessed September 25, 2022.
  8. Idaho Government staff House Bill No. 161, Accessed September 25, 2022.
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