Fishing in Kentucky get a license

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

Fishing is a popular recreational activity in Kentucky, with numerous streams, rivers, and lakes available for anglers to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a beginner, it’s important to know the regulations and requirements for fishing in the state, including obtaining a fishing license. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the costs associated with obtaining a fishing license in Kentucky, as well as any additional fees that may be required.

We’ll also outline the different types of licenses available, and the eligibility requirements for each. With this information, you can make an informed decision on which license is best for you, and ensure that you’re in compliance with all the necessary regulations when you head out on your next fishing trip.

  • Annual resident fishing license: $23.00
  • Annual non-resident fishing license: $55.00
  • Spouses/Joint fishing license: $42.00
  • Non-resident 7-day fishing license: $35.00
  • 1-day resident fishing license: $7.00
  • 1-day non-resident fishing license: $15.00

To learn more, here’s a link to the Kentucky official website.

Looking for a copy of the Kentucky Fishing Regulations in PDF? Let me help click this link 👉 Kentucky Fishing Regulations PDF

Does Kentucky Have Free Fishing?

Yes, Kentucky has a free fishing weekend when everyone in this state can fish in most public water without a fishing license. The free fishing weekend typically happens on the first entire weekend of June; however, in 2023, it will be on the 2nd and 4th of June.

You won’t require a trout permit or fishing license during the free fishing weekend. Still, you must follow the possession limits set by the place you plan to fish. (source) You also have to use the proper fishing technique. So before adding this date to your schedule, you should find out the best fishing spots in Kentucky. (source)

Trout Fishing in Kentucky
Trout Fishing in Kentucky

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

Yes, during the free fishing weekend, the state waters are usually open to everyone, including non-residents. Plus, some places even have fishing gear you can rent and perfect your skills or test the waters for the first time.

Guide Pro Tip: Looking for some directions for casting a fly in Kentucky? Look no further than this article 👉 Where to Fly Fish in Kentucky

TYpes of Fishing Licenses in Kentucky

Every American state has its unique fishing rule and regulations that everyone has to follow. And one of the essential rules that can earn you a hefty fine when broken is fishing without a license. After all, the fish and wildlife resources department has a wide range of fishing licenses for residents and non-residents.

They have lifetime, annual and short-term licenses for everyone in the family, including one for a married couple. These licenses vary in price and duration, and the intent is that each applies to an age group. Some of the most common fishing licenses in Kentucky include:

Annual Fishing License

The annual fishing license is for anglers planning on fishing for an entire year in this state. The holder of these licenses can participate in rough and sport fishing statewide using a reel, rod, line, or pole. But they have to use the proper fishing methods.

The Annual fishing license is available for both residents and non-resident anglers. And if you plan on fishing trout, you may have to purchase a trout permit with this license.

Combination Hunting and Fishing License

If you love fishing and hunting, then you can get this combo license instead of two separate licenses. Remember, the combo license is cheaper and can let you hunt and fish, but you still have to follow the fishing rules and regulations. Unfortunately, this license is only available to residents, so non-residents must purchase two licenses to explore freshwater and saltwater bodies.

Sportsman’s Fishing License

Another license designed for residents only is the sportsman’s license. This option includes a combination of fishing and hunting licenses, a Spring turkey permit, a deer permit, a trout permit, and the migratory bird permit.

The sportsman’s fishing license is available for everyone, so you can get one for the senior and youth angler in your life. But the price of the different sportsman’s licenses varies with the age of the anglers. The senior sportsman’s license is available for anglers over 65 years. For disabled residents, the state does have a disabled sportsman’s license. But you’ll require disability authorization to buy one.

Short Term Fishing Licenses

Thanks to our busy schedules, we rarely get an opportunity to fish every week; some of us rarely get time to do what we love. Therefore, purchasing an annual fishing license is not an option. The state understands, so they have short-term permits for residents and non-residents.

Non-residents have a 7-day and a 1-day non-resident fishing license. The 1-day permit has a specified date, so you can purchase one for today or any day in the future. On the other hand, the 7-day fishing license is valid for seven consecutive days as specified by the angler. The 7-day fishing license is only available for non-residents.

The residents only have a 1-day fishing license, but you can purchase more if you plan on fishing for more days. On the other hand, non-residents can also get an extension on the 7-day licenses if they plan on extending their stay in Kentucky.

Joint/ Spouse Fishing License

The state has a unique package for married couples that love fishing together. So instead of purchasing separate licenses, you can get this joint permit and fish anytime. Plus, you don’t have to be together when fishing every time.

The license lets each partner fish separately. So, you won’t have to get another if your spouse is busy at work and you are on a fishing weekend getaway trip. But you will have to obtain a  trout permit with this license.

Trout Fishing Permit

Everyone planning on fishing trout in Kentucky will require this permit, so when purchasing their license, they will have to get this permit. Even with the joint license, you have to get two trout permits. Usually, this permit comes with the resident sportsman’s license and the resident disabled/senior combination license.

Every licensed angler exploring the part of River Cumberland between the Tennessee state line and Wolf Creek Dam needs a trout permit.

Pay Lakes

Pay Lakes Kentucky Fishing
Pay Lakes Kentucky Fishing

Anyone fishing on the pay lakes licensed by this state’s fish and wildlife resources department needs a fishing license. They can also fish using a free permit that the lake operator normally issues. But if the operator hasn’t licensed it with this state, then you will require a fishing license.

Type of licenseResidentNon-resident
Spouses/joint annual fishing license$42.00N/A
Annual fishing license$23.00$55.00
1-day fishing license$7.00$15.00
7-day fishing licenseN/A$35.00
3-year fishing license$55.00N/A
Trout permit$10.00$10.00
Annual combo fishing/hunting license$42.00N/A

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Kentucky?

Basically, there are three ways you can purchase a fishing license in Kentucky. You can purchase it in person, via phone call, or online. If you can’t visit the local vendors, you should consider getting it online using this link.

All you have to do is submit your details and then pick the type of license you require. They accept Mastercard, Visa, Discovery, or fish and wildlife gift certificates. You can get the gift certificates here. Therefore, you can give a family member this card on a particular day.

Unfortunately, licenses purchased online aren’t mailed to the owners; instead, you will get a printable image and an authorization number. Remember, you must present a printout of the permit, license, or authorization number while in the field.

If you want to get the license in person, you should purchase it from over 900 locations all over the state. These vendors include county stores, local fishing and hunting businesses, county clerk offices, and chain stores. You can find the vendor using the following link. (source)

You can also purchase your fishing permit and license via phone call 24 hours a day. But you must know the license type you need before making the phone call. All you have to do is call 1-800-858-1549 and purchase your license. You can buy all the fishing permits and licenses except the youth and disabled licenses and permits via phone call at a small fee.

How Much Is a Kentucky Fishing License at Walmart?

The price of the different fishing licenses at Walmart is similar to the prices on the fishing and hunting departments’ website. The only difference is that you will have to pay the processing and printing fee.

Fly Fishing Gear

The 7 Best Fly Fishing Gear Online

Getting good fly fishing gear online can be like flipping a coin. Sure most companies have great return policies and accomodate quality concerns, but returning items is a hassle. Often…

Read More

Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in Kentucky?

Every lake, stream, and river in Kentucky has unique rules and regulations that everyone has to follow. And breaking these regulations can result in a fine and even license suspension. Therefore to be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to download the state’s official website and go through it before fishing in Kentucky. (source)

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Kentucky?

Generally, anglers are required to purchase new licenses each year. However, kids (residents and non-residents) younger than 15 are not required to purchase fishing permits or licenses.

When Do Kentucky Fishing Licenses Expire?

Generally, all the annual Kentucky fishing and hunting licenses expire on the last day of February. These licenses are valid between March 1 and the end of February. On the other hand, the short-term options have a fixed expiry date; luckily, you can get an extension.

Can You Fish Without a License in Kentucky?

Besides the youth below 15 years old, everyone must have a license when fishing or hunting in Kentucky. The only weekend everyone is allowed to fish without a license is during the free fishing weekend.

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

The landowners and their spouses don’t need fishing licenses to fish the pond on their property as long as they live in Kentucky. This rule applies to all their children and tenants who live and work on the farm. But the guests and their relatives will require a license to fish in Kentucky.

Learn more FLY FISHING TACTICS with these articles

Are you read to learn even more? I offer a FREE video dry fly fishing workshop that includes downloads, casting and fly selection it’s easy signup with this link – How 2 Fly Fish

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

Fishing without a license is illegal, and if caught poaching, then you can be fined up to $1,000 or serve a jail term of up to 12 months if convicted. You may also have to forfeit your fishing privileges for about three years.

What Is the Fishing Season in Kentucky?    

General fishing is open all year-round in Kentucky; there are several places where you can find it open all year round. Plus, some fishing spots practice catch-and-release fishing even during a closed season. But if you love chasing certain fish species, you should find out when you can harvest them and then visit Kentucky. For more details on the fishing seasons in Kentucky, please continue reading.

Trout Fishing Season

Generally, trout fishing is open all year round in Kentucky, with the stocking seasons varying with the lakes. The harvesting time for some trout species, including the brook, stretches from April 1 to the end of November. Remember, you won’t be allowed to harvest trout during the off-season, but catch-and-release is permitted.

Some of Kentucky’s best places open to trout fishing include River Cumberland, Rock Creek, Otter Creek, and Floyd’s Fork.

Bass Fishing Season

Kentucky is a great bass fishing destination; you can find a place to fish the smallmouth bass all year round. But the best time to catch the smallmouth bass is in early winter, late fall, and spring. These are the best times for anglers looking for trophy bass. On the other hand, springtime is the best time to go after the largemouth bass in Kentucky.

Walleye and Sauger Fishing Season

Regarding walleye and sauger, Kentucky has more than enough destinations. You can fish this species at Lake Cumberland, Barkley Lake, Lake Kentucky, and Green River Lake. You can also find some vast species below the many dams on the River Ohio. The best time to harvest the walleye and sauger is between February and March.

Fish speciesOpening dateClosing date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
TroutApril 1November 30
BassNovember 1May 31
Largemouth bassMarchMay
Walleye and saugerFebruaryMarch

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in Kentucky?

This state is only second to Alaska regarding navigable US water miles. Therefore, you are likely to get a place to fish in Kentucky all year round. But with the many lakes, creeks, rivers, and streams, picking the best place to fish can be pretty challenging.

Kentucky has some of the best fishing lakes in the United States that can guarantee you a catch something most of the time you cast your line. Some of the best fishing spots in Kentucky include:

Buckhorn Lake

When it comes to crappie fishing, Kentucky is a perfect destination, and this lake is one of the reasons why. Buckhorn Lake may not be that popular, but the 1,200-acre lake has a wide range of fish species. Besides crappie, you can also fish some of the largest bass species in Kentucky.

Buckhorn Lake is a smaller water body, so you have a high likelihood of having fans, thanks to the absence of watersports.

Yatesville Lake

Another great lake that’s bound to surprise you is Yatesville Lake. Unlike most lakes, Yatesville Lake is an exceptional largemouth bass fishing destination. Therefore, if you love chasing largemouth bass, you should add this lake to your list of places to visit, especially in May and June. You are likely to catch trophy bass in early summer or post-spawn.

You can also catch a wide range of species in this lake, including white crappie, channel catfish, and bluegill.

Ohio River

Another exceptional fishing destination is the Ohio river, situated on this state’s northern border. The locals agree that the best time to explore this river is in the Falls. This river has some great spots with a wide range of fish species. Besides bass and catfish, you can also find Alligator gar, sunfish, and bluegill.

For more details on where to visit Kentucky, click here

Can I Fish at Night in Kentucky?

Yes, there is no law against fishing at night in Kentucky, so provided the lake is accessible, then you can cast your line at night. But make sure you’re well-illuminated and dressed for the occasion. But during the camping season, night fishing is only permitted from Thursday to Monday nights, except on the night of events and festivals.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have in Kentucky?

There is no law against the number of poles you can use in Kentucky. So you can use as many rods as you want at any given time.

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

Yes, everyone over 65 years old needs a license to fish in Kentucky waters. Kentucky has a wide range of fishing licenses for seniors over 65 years.

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

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. License and fees, accessed January 30, 2023.
  2. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff, Free fishing weekend, accessed January 30, 2023.
  3. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff, Find a place to fish, accessed January 30, 2023.
  4. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff, Online licensing and permit agent, accessed January 30, 2023.
  5. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff, How to buy licenses and permits, accessed January 30, 2023.
  6. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff, vendor location, accessed January 30, 2023
  7. Fishing regulations, accessed January 30, 2023.
Scroll to Top