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Who needs a fishing license?



A Kentucky farm owner invites his brother, nieces and nephews from the city for an afternoon of fishing at the pond behind his house. The farm owner tells his guests not to worry about a fishing license since they plan to fish on his land.

However, the visitors in fact do need their license.

“If you live in Kentucky and you fish anything other than a private pond on your own land — and you are 16 years of age or older — you must possess a valid fishing license,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Therefore, you must have a valid fishing license to fish private or public waters that you do not own. This includes city or county park lakes, state park lakes, reservoirs, streams, rivers and the lakes in the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program.”

A property owner and spouse do not need to buy a fishing license to fish ponds on land they own as long as they are residents of Kentucky.

Neither do their dependent children or tenants on farmlands where they live and work. Guests, however, must possess a valid fishing license, even blood relatives.

Non-residents who own land in Kentucky must have a license to fish on their property. A good rule of thumb: If a person does not have a Kentucky driver’s license, they are not considered a resident.

The only other exceptions to possessing a fishing license are anglers under the age of 16, resident military service members on furlough for more than three days, people fishing during Free Fishing Days in June and those fishing within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park. Those fishing in pay lakes need either a fishing license or a permit issued by the operators of the lake. Money generated from the sale of fishing licenses fund the annual stocking of more than 4 million fish in rivers and lakes, the restoration of habitat and species, the state’s two fish hatcheries, boat ramp construction and maintenance, fishing access on lakes and streams, and fisheries management.

No general fund tax dollars are used to fund fish and wildlife activities.

The FINs program, which brings quality fishing to cities through aggressively stocking catchable sized fish, would not be possible without funds from licenses.

“Without license buyers, we can’t do any of these things,” Buynak said.

Money from the sale of trout permits also helps fund trout stockings across Kentucky. “If you want to keep trout that you catch from any lake or stream, you must purchase a $10 trout permit,” Buynak said. “You must have a trout permit to fish the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam whether you keep trout or not.”

A resident annual fishing license is $20. A oneday resident fishing license is $7.

An annual non-resident fishing license is $50. The one-day, non-resident fishing license costs $10.

Residents certified as disabled and those 65 and older qualify for a $5 license. “Some seniors who are eligible for the senior/ disabled license still pay the whole price because they want to support the department,” noted Ron Brooks, director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

For information about fishing regulations in Kentucky, pick up a copy of the fishing guide, available wherever licenses are sold. Regulations are also available online at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Web site, located at fw.ky.gov.

The new license year began March 1.


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