Fishing License in Tennessee

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

Tennessee is a perfect destination for everyone who loves the outdoors; there is no shortage of outdoor activities. I have tried rock climbing and hiking the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but what surprised me was their tranquil waters with exceptional fishing opportunities. I was lucky to catch some giant largemouth bass at the Barkley Reservoir last year.

Since I had licenses for Tennessee and Kentucky, I had fun on both sides of the border while exploring the Barkley Reservoir. Therefore, if you have never caught a trophy largemouth bass, you should explore Tennessee’s over 1,000 lakes with over 280 native species. But before planning your Tennessee exploration trip, you should learn more about their licenses and regulations. For more details on Tennessee fishing licenses, please read on.

Here’s a link to Tennessee’s official website for more details.

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Does Tennessee Have Free Fishing?

Like most American states, Tennessee has a free fishing day. The free fishing day in Tennessee is usually the Saturday of the first whole week of the month, and in 2022, it was on June 11, 2022. On this day, everyone can cast their lines without a Tennessee fishing license in all public and agency-owned and operated waters. (source)

Unlike most states, Tennessee does extend its free fishing day for up to a week for kids below 15 years. Therefore, your kids can continue having fun without a license and perfect their skills before you purchase a Jr. fish/hunt license for them. The free fishing week for kids starts on the free fishing day and lasts for the following week.

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

Yes, during the free fishing day and week, the public waters are open to both residents and non-residents. Therefore, you can test Tennessee’s water for free before purchasing your short-term license.

Different Fishing Licenses in Tennessee

Like most American states, Tennessee has a wide range of fishing licenses, with some giving you hunting and fishing privileges. Some short-term period fishing licenses work perfectly with tourists or folks looking for a weekend fishing trip. Unfortunately, some fish species have protection status by the state, and you may have to get an additional permit to fish them.

Therefore, before finding out the price of these fishing licenses, you need to learn more about them. You need to figure out the best package for you, your family, and any other necessary permit. Here are some of the unique Tennessee fishing licenses:

Jr. Fish, Hunt, and Trap License

Fishing is a family activity that everyone can enjoy regardless of age. But before taking your kids fishing, you must purchase this license for them; after all, fishing is not free for some kids between 13 and 17 years old.

The Jr. Fishing license is ideal for kids between 13 and 15 years. With the Jr. License, they can join you in your hunting expeditions but make sure you purchase it before their 16th birthday. With this license, you can finally introduce your kids to fishing and hunting before they become adults.

Plus, with this license, they don’t need any other supplemental permit to fish or hunt.

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Summertime Bluegills on a Fly Rod

County of Residence Fishing License

Unlike most states, Tennessee has a license for folks who prefer fishing in their county of residence, which is cheaper. With this license, you can fish using all-natural baits except for minnows. You cannot use an artificial lure to catch fish and may need a supplemental license/permit to catch trout.

Annual Trout License

The annual trout license is a supplemental permit every angler must have to fish trout. Therefore, it’s mandatory for anglers with a one-day fishing license, county of residence fishing, and annual fishing licenses. Therefore, if you want to avoid penalties, you should apply for your trout and fishing licenses. (source)

One-Day Fishing (All Species)

Unlike the one-day fishing license, the all-species option guarantees that you can catch any of the over 280 native fish species in Tennessee. Therefore, you will only need a supplemental license to fish in some of the public waters in Tennessee.

Three-Day Fishing-No Trout vs. 3-Day Fishing-All Species Licenses

These two licenses are ideal for tourists planning on fishing here for three days. But the main difference is that you will have to purchase a trout permit with the one for no trout, which can be a tad costly. Therefore, the best option is the 3-day package for all species.

Special Permits (Residents and Non-residents)

Several permits can allow folks to fish in certain parts of the state, including Gatlinburg, Citico Creek, Green Cove Pond, and Tellico River in Tennessee. You may also purchase a permit to fish in agency fishing lakes.

Gatlinburg is an exceptional place for trout fishing; therefore, you can purchase a Gatlinburg 3-day trout permit together with your license. (source)

Resident Permanent Fishing Licenses

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Tennessee has some lifetime fishing licenses for persons with disabilities in the community that you can only purchase at their offices in Nashville. A great example is the resident fishing and hunting disabled under 18 years which lasts for a year. For the intellect-disabled folks, it has the fishing and hunting intellect-disabled license.

The permanent wheelchair fishing and hunting license is for folks who have suffered an amputation of about 75% of their limbs or are restricted to a wheelchair. (source)

Annual fishing and hunting combinations (16-64)$33N/A
Junior Hunt/fish license$9$10
Annual fishing no-troutN/A$49
Annual all fishN/A$98
Annual Trout$21N/A
3-day fishing- no trout N/A$20
1-day fishing 1-day all fish$6 $11N/A

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Tennessee?

The hunt and fish department has created several payment options to make it easier for anglers to purchase fishing licenses. You can either visit the Tennessee hunting and fishing department’s offices and make your purchase or buy it online. (source)

For online purchases, you will have to visit their official website. Click the following link, pick the package you need, and pay for it using your credit card.

After purchasing it, you can print and carry it when you’re going to fish in your favorite fishing spot. You can also buy them at the boat docks, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, Walmart, and county clerks’ offices.

But suppose you’re looking for one of the permanent resident licenses for persons with disabilities. In that case, you have to visit their TWRA sales offices in Nashville.

How Much Is a Tennessee Fishing License in Walmart?

All fishing licenses, including Tennessee fishing licenses, can be found in all US-based Walmart stores. All you have to do is speak to the Sports and Outdoors department employees. Tennessee fishing licenses range from $11 to $100 depending on the duration of the visit, age, and if you have any disabilities.

In most cases, the price of the licenses at Walmart will be similar to that at the fishing and hunting department’s offices. But you may have to pay a processing fee.

Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in Tennessee?

Fishing is a fun outdoor activity loved by folks worldwide; therefore, we need rules and regulations to guarantee that most fish species don’t become extinct. So, all the state governments have a unique department designated to create fishing rules and regulations while ensuring that the rules remain intact.

And to ensure that everybody plays their part in taking care of the environment, they created these regulations. These rules provide that people can still fish hundreds of centuries from now. You can be penalized for breaking any of the rules and regulations. To ensure that everyone can access these regulations, they created a document and uploaded it to their official website.

To access the Tennessee fishing regulations, click the following link. (4)

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Tennessee?

Generally, anyone over 13 years old needs a fishing license to cast their lines in Tennessee. Kids between 13 and 15 years can apply for the Jr. fish/hunt license, while the ones below 12 don’t need a license. Adults, both residents and non-residents over 16 need an adult fishing license to fish in Tennessee. Unfortunately, Tennessee doesn’t have a senior’s package but a lifetime license for persons with disabilities.

When do Tennessee fishing licenses expire?

Except for short-term licenses, all annual permits are valid for a year from the purchasing date. (source) Therefore, if you purchased your license on January 1, 2022, it will expire on the same date in 2023. The short-term licenses are only valid for the designated number of days, and they expire at 23:59 Hrs of the last day.

Can You Fish Without a License in Tennessee?

No, except for free fishing day and week, anyone over 13 years old needs a license to fish in all state-operated waterways. But kids below 12 years old can fish without a license every day. Even on private land, visitors need a permit and the owner’s permission to cast their lines while sticking to the owner’s daily bag limit.

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

Under the farm owner exemption, the land owner, spouse, and children can fish on their family land without a license. But for this law to apply, the family must reside in Tennessee and not necessarily on the ground where the pond is situated. (5) Therefore, you can visit your farm on weekends to fish and have fun with your family members

Visitors need a license and permission from the owner to fish on private property.

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

If you’ve found fishing without a license, the lowest fine you can pay is $35, but if the case gets to court, you may pay over $500. If caught fishing without a license several times, you may pay about $1,000 in fines and even a jail term in the worst-case scenario.

What Is the Fishing Season in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, fishing is a year-round activity. Plus, picking the right option can take a lot of work with the thousands of water bodies in the region. Unfortunately, some waterways are closed all year round, while others are partially open to the public. Plus, fishing in some places in winter can be pretty challenging, even if they are available for fishing.

Generally, Tennessee’s waterways divide into four regions, each with unique rules and regulations. Unfortunately, these regions don’t have the same open season; for more details, please read on.

Region 1

Region 1 is home to some of the best lakes in Tennessee, including Kentucky Lake and Barkley. Barkley includes Bear Creek and the dewatering region, also called Dover Bottoms. The dewatering region is usually open all year round except five days during and before the waterfowl season.

During the open season, you can fish a wide range of species, including spotted bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and catfish. Unfortunately, paddlefish season is open between April 24 and May 31, during which anglers can only take 2 per day. (source)

Kentucky Lake

The Kentucky lake region includes the dewatering areas like Gumdale, Perryville, Busseltown, Camden Bottoms, and Gin Creek, among others. Like Barkley, these water bodies are closed five days before and during the late waterfowl season. You can also fish a wide range of species all year round except paddlefish. The paddlefish season is open between April 24 and May 31.

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing
Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing

Region 2


Cheatham features all the water from River Stones up to J. Percy-Priest Dam. The region is open all year round, and you can fish a wide range of species, the biggest being smallmouth bass with a length limit of 18 inches. Unfortunately, paddlefish season is closed between May 31 and April 24 every year. And when open, anglers can only take two species per day. (source)

Other Water Bodies

Other places that guarantee a great fishing season include Old Hickory, Tim’s Ford, Percy Priest, and Normandy. These regions are open all year round, and you can fish any of the several species in the area except paddlefish. Paddlefish season is only open between April 24 and May 31 every year.

Region 3

Center Hill

The Center Hill is open to fishing all year round; therefore, you can catch a wide range of fish except paddlefish. Paddlefish fishing is restricted at the reservoir and its branches. But you can catch and take home spotted bass of any length.

Unfortunately, at Caney Fork River, anglers can only use one hook, having one lure from January to April 30. During this duration, anglers can only use a maximum of 3 poles per angler.

Hiwassee Refuge

Most places are open all year round except for Hiwassee Wildlife refuge, which is usually closed between November 15 and February. During the closed season, the refuge is closed to any usage and trespassing; you can only view wildlife.

Cordell Hull and Chickamauga

These regions are open to fishing all year-round, and you can catch a wide range of species except paddlefish. Paddlefish season is open from April 24 to May 31, when anglers can only catch two fish per day.

Other Water Bodies

Fishing in Dale hollow is open to all species, but each angler cannot use more than 4 rods at a time. But you have to adhere to the set length and bag limits. At Watts Bar, the bag limit for hybrid striped or striped bass is reduced by 2 per day between April 1 and October 31 and November 1 and March 31.

Region 4

At region 5, the open season for most fish species lasts all year round, but the bag limit for some species varies. For instance, hybrid striped/striped bass fishing at Boone is limited to 2 in combination per day from April 1 to October 31 and November to March 31. At Cherokee, paddlefish fishing is limited to 1 per person when the season is open (April 1 to April 15).

Table of seasons

SeasonsOpening dateClosing date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
TroutMarch 31 and October 1June 30 and November 31
BassJanuary 1December 31
BluegillMay 15August 31

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in Tennessee?

Tennessee is home to some of the best fishing destinations on the planet, including Kentucky Lake, which ranks among the top 10 American lakes. Another unique destination is the Gibson County Lake, home to some of the largest bass catches. If you love spring fishing, you should consider visiting Reelfoot Lake, a popular shallow lake.

Click here for more details on the best places to fish in Tennessee.

Can I Fish at Night in Tennessee?

Yes, there are no laws against fishing at night, but for your safety, it’s always a good idea to carry proper lighting. And most importantly, dress warmly.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have in Tennessee?

Unless otherwise stated, there is no limit to the number of poles any angler can use at any given time. Therefore, you can use as many poles as you can comfortably work with while fishing.

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

Even though they don’t have a license designated for seniors, they stipulate that anyone over 16 must have a fishing license. The rule applies to both residents and non-residents.  

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  1. Wildlife Resources Agency of Tennessee’s staff, License and Permit Information, accessed November 6, 2022
  2. Tennessee state park staff, fishing, accessed November 6, 2022
  3. TWRA staff, annual license packages, accessed November 6, 2022
  4. Tennessee fishing guide, accessed November 6, 2022
  5. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, License and Permit Information, accessed November 6, 2022
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