Tennessee Fishing Licenses

Fishing is a popular pastime in the beautiful state of Tennessee. Before you hit the water, it’s essential to have a Tennessee fishing license. Obtaining a fishing license ensures that the state’s fishery management, conservation, and education programs receive adequate support. By getting a license, you are directly contributing to the health and sustainability of the waterways. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the types, costs, requirements, and regulations of fishing licenses in Tennessee. Additionally, we’ll touch on some important fishing regulations to keep in mind before heading out with your gear.

Tennessee Fishing License

Tennessee Fishing License Requirements

Generally, both residents and non-residents must possess a valid Tennessee fishing license to fish in the state. This requirement applies to those between the ages of 13 and 64. However, there are a few exceptions and exemptions to keep in mind:

  • Free Fishing Day: Tennessee offers a Free Fishing Day on June 10, 2023. This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone, regardless of age, to enjoy fishing without needing a license.
  • Landowners and their families: If you own the land you’re fishing on or are a family member of the landowner, you might be exempt from needing a license. However, this exemption does not apply to trout fishing.
  • Military personnel: Active-duty military members stationed in Tennessee (including their immediate family) are eligible for resident fishing licenses. Tennessee also offers special licenses for military members and veterans.
  • Disabled anglers: Tennessee provides various license options for disabled anglers, such as discounted permits and reduced-fee licenses. Check the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) website for more information on these opportunities.

Tennessee also offers special Native Tennessean Annual Licenses for former residents who were born in the state but no longer reside there. This license allows them to enjoy fishing at the same cost as current residents. Remember to check the official Tennessee fishing regulations for any updates and additional requirements before you head out on your fishing adventure.

Types of Tennessee Fishing Licenses

There are several types of fishing licenses available in Tennessee, each with its own features and prices. Let’s dive in and explore which one is perfect for your next adventure.

Annual Licenses

These are the most common types of fishing licenses for residents and non-residents alike. They allow you to fish all species across Tennessee waters for a one-year period. For avid anglers, there’s also a Sportsman Package available, which bundles many licenses and permits together, such as hunting and trout permits, at a discounted rate.

Lifetime Licenses

Tennessee offers lifetime licenses for residents, including special categories for seniors, disabled veterans, or those with an intellectual disability. All you need to do is provide your Social Security number and proof of residency.

Short-Term Licenses

If you’re just visiting or planning a short fishing getaway, Tennessee offers one-day, three-day, and ten-day licenses. There’s even a trout permit option for those looking to catch this popular species.

Special Licenses

Sometimes, certain situations call for specialized licenses. For example, those who require a wheelchair to fish can obtain a wheelchair-restricted license, while active military personnel on leave can apply for a military leave license. Additionally, the state offers a free fishing day and a free fishing week annually to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors.

How Much Is a Tennessee Fishing License?

The TWRA offers different types of fishing licenses, with prices varying for residents and non-residents. Here’s a brief overview of the costs associated with the most common fishing licenses:

Type of LicenseResidentsNon-Residents
Annual Fishing$34$50
One-Day Fishing$6.50$10.50
Youth (Ages 13-15)$10N/A
Senior (Ages 65+)$5N/A

Remember, prices and availability may change periodically, so always double-check on the official Tennessee fishing license website before purchasing. The TWRA, in coordination with the state legislature, sets the prices for these licenses, and they occasionally update the fees to account for inflation and other factors.

Tennessee Fishing Laws & Regulations

In Tennessee, the fishing seasons, creel limits, size limits, gear restrictions, and special regulations vary depending on the species and waters. For instance, the largemouth bass has a daily bag limit of 10 with no minimum length limit. On the other hand, bluegill and redear have a combined daily bag limit of 10 per day with no length limit.

Conservation is a key concern, which is why there are catch and release regulations for certain species like trout. From December 1st to March 31st, trout fishing is strictly catch-and-release. But, from April 1st to November 30th, anglers can keep up to five fish per day with no length limit.

Keep in mind that Tennessee’s fishing licenses are required for both residents and non-residents alike, with some exceptions based on age and other factors. Be sure to purchase or renew your license before you head out on your fishing adventure.

Tennessee Fishing Information & Resources

If you’re an angler looking to fish in Tennessee, there’s an abundance of helpful information and resources for you. When planning your next fishing adventure, be sure to check out the TWRA website or the TWRA On The Go app, which offer fishing reports, forecasts, maps, and events.

How to Get a Tennessee Fishing License

There are several ways to obtain a Tennessee fishing license. You can purchase one online, by phone, or in person.


The easiest and fastest way to get a fishing license in Tennessee is by visiting the TWRA online licensing system. All you need is a credit or debit card, and you can create an account or log in with an existing one. After selecting the type of license, permit, or endorsement you want, just make the payment and print the license or save it on your mobile device. You can also use the TWRA On The Go app to make your purchase and store your license on your smartphone.

By Phone

If you prefer talking to someone, you can get your fishing license by calling 1-888-814-8972. Just follow the prompts, provide your personal information, the type of license, permit, or endorsement you want to purchase, and pay with a credit or debit card. Remember to jot down your confirmation number and carry it with you while fishing.

In Person

If you like doing things the traditional way, head to one of the TWRA offices or authorized agents across the state. Bring your personal information and payment method (cash, check, credit card, or debit card), select the type of license, permit, or endorsement you want to purchase, and you’ll be handed your brand new fishing license.

Whether you’re fishing at the famous South Holston Lake or on the Tellico-Citico Creeks, Tennessee offers options like one-day fishing licenses, lifetime sportsman licenses, and special permits such as the Nashville trout permit. Pick the one that suits you best and enjoy your time out on the water.

Tennessee Fishing License FAQs

Can You Fish in Tennessee Without a License?

Generally, no. However, there are certain exemptions where you can fish without a license. Tennessee fishing regulations offer some leniency to specific groups, allowing them to fish without a license. Among the license exemptions are youth, landowners, and Free Fishing Day. With these exemptions in mind, everyone else must obtain a valid Tennessee fishing license before heading out to catch some fish.

How Many Fish Can You Catch per Day in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, creel limits govern the daily fish limits, which vary by species and location. Possession limits, twice the daily creel, are enforced. Adhering to these rules is vital for preserving fish populations and a healthy ecosystem during Tennessee fishing trips.

Who Is Exempt From Tennessee Fishing Licenses?

Tennessee fishing license exemptions include residents under 13, accompanied nonresident minors, disabled residents, resident landowners fishing on their property, active-duty military on leave, disabled veterans with a 30% or more disability, and anglers fishing with a licensed guide. Specific conditions apply; consult the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for eligibility and requirements.