Skip to main content

What You Need to Know About California Fishing Licenses & Regulations

Man fishing from his kayak with a fish in his net.

As the weather warms up, many people are already digging out their fishing poles in anticipation of spending a relaxing day out in nature doing their favorite activity. But keep in mind, not every body of water in the Nevada Irrigation District is open to fishing. And there are licensing requirements that you have to follow. So, before you set your alarm clock for an early wake-up and head out to the water, you need to know about California Fishing Licenses and Regulations.

Fishing License in California

There are many types of licenses for fishing in California. The cost varies depending on the type of license, whether you live in-state or out-of-state, and the age of the angler. It's important to note to be considered a resident; you must live in the state for at least six months.

You can get an Annual Sport Fishing License valid for the whole year. The cost typically ranges from free up to $145.80. 

You can also get a license for just one day or up to 10 days. These are called Short Term Sport Fishing Licenses. The price ranges from $17.54 to $54.00.

If you consider yourself a fishing enthusiast, you can also invest in a Lifetime Fishing License. The cost ranges from $402 to $972.50. 

Whichever option you go with, make sure you keep your license handy yet in a safe place. You have to pay to replace your license if you lose it.

Fishing Regulations

Once you have your license, you're also going to want to make sure you're aware of state regulations regarding fishing. 

For instance, know what type of fish you are fishing for. If you catch a fish, make sure you know what kind it is if you plan to keep it. And know that you can't sell any fish caught with a sport fishing license. 

Also, it's against the law to fish without a license for anyone age 16 and older. 

And please do not litter when you are fishing. We want to keep our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs clean for fish, humans, and all animals. The waters are for everyone's enjoyment.

Once you decide what type of license you need, you can purchase it from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife either online or at one of their sales offices (please note they do not accept cash). In addition, some retailers sell these licenses, such as Big 5 Sporting Goods and Walmart, and local tackle shops.

Where To Fish in Nevada and Placer Counties

One of the many perks of living in the Sierra Nevada foothills is the abundance of options you have for fishing and other recreational activities. So let's break it down for you by the type of water.


According to the American Fisheries Society, forage fish thrive in reservoirs because of the dams' numerous nutrient inputs. Smallmouth bass, in particular, thrives in reservoirs. Here are the reservoirs in our area that allow fishing:

  • Rollins (NID)
  • Scotts Flat (NID)
  • Bocca
  • Lower Scotts Flat (NID)
  • French Meadows
  • Hell Hole
  • Jackson Meadows (NID)
  • Lake Valley
  • Milton (NID)
  • Prosser Creek
  • Sugar Pine


Whether you want to hang out onshore or hop in a boat, you have many options for spending a day out on the lake fishing. These include:

  • Bowman Lake (NID)
  • Bullpen Lake
  • Carr Lake
  • Clementine Lake
  • Donner Lake
  • Faucherie Lake (NID)
  • Feeley Lake
  • Fordyce Lake
  • Fuller Lake
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Martis Creek Lake
  • Milk Lake
  • Rock Lake Upper
  • Sawmill (NID)
  • Spaulding Lake
  • ​​​​​​​Weaver Lake

Besides lakes and reservoirs; there are many rivers you can fish in - Sagehen Creek, the Truckee River, the American River, and the Yuba River.

Fishing Is Good For You

Did you know that fishing is good for your mental health? This is just something to keep in mind if anyone tries to accuse you of spending too much time with your rod. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, it's good for your physical and mental health. It's a great stress reliever (as long as you don't get worked up if you don't catch anything!). And it's an excellent opportunity to connect with others who enjoy fishing as much as you.

Join our mailing list