The Complete Guide To Getting Your Kentucky Fishing License

Last Updated on June 2, 2023

Are you looking to go fishing in Kentucky? Before you can cast your line into the waters, you’ll need to make sure you have your Kentucky fishing license.

Kentucky offers various licenses to suit your fishing needs, whether you’re a resident of the state or just visiting for a few days. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about how many license options there are, don’t worry. We’ve broken it down, so you’ll know exactly what you need to legally fish in the Bluegrass State.

Going fishing in Kentucky? Then give a read to our Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Kentucky review.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Kentucky?

KY Fishing License
Resident 16+ YearsRequired
Non-resident 16+ YearsRequired

In Kentucky, the license year begins on March 1 and ends on the last day of February. New licenses are required annually.

Generally speaking, if you are over the age of 16, you need a license to fish in the state of Kentucky. However, there are a few individuals who are exempt, and circumstances that allow people to fish without a license. 

  • Resident owners of farmlands and their spouses and dependent children who are hunting or fishing on their lands
  • Resident service members on leave for more than three days
  • Anyone fishing on the first Saturday and Sunday in June during Free Fishing Days
  • People fishing within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park

What Age Do You Need a Fishing License in Kentucky?

Residents and non-residents younger than 16 are exempt from purchasing a license or permit to fish.


Residents over the age of 16 are required to have a fishing license to fish in Kentucky unless they are fishing on their own property or on a free fishing day.


The age for a fishing license in KY for non-residents is anyone older than the age of 16 unless they are fishing during a free fishing day.

Joint License/Spouse License

Kentucky residents can take advantage of the joint husband-wife license, which is 10% cheaper than buying two individual fishing licenses separately.

Trout Permit

Trout Permits are required for any angler planning to fish for trout in Kentucky. The trout permit costs $10.00.

Joint husband-wife license holders each need their own individual trout permits.

Sportsman’s License

A Kentucky Sportsman’s License includes a Combination fishing and hunting license, a resident deer permit, a spring turkey permit, a resident fall turkey permit, Kentucky migratory bird/waterfowl permit, and a trout permit.

There are disability, senior, and youth Sportsman’s Licenses available at a reduced price.

Fishing In Neighborhoods Program

family fishing from a pontoon

The FINs program was created by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) to provide quality fishing opportunities for anglers close to home.

Currently, 45 lakes across the state are included in the program, allowing people living near cities of all sizes to enjoy quality fishing. 

Catfish and rainbow trout are regularly stocked in the lakes, and sunfish and bass populations are monitored to ensure natural reproduction meets the needs of anglers.

If needed, stocking of sunfish or largemouth bass may also occur.

The program involves a cooperative agreement between KDFWR and city/county municipalities with regulations that are slightly more restrictive than state regulations but help spread fish harvest over a longer period of time.

People hoping to fish in fishing neighborhoods still need to have a valid fishing license.

How to Buy a Kentucky Fishing License 

You can buy Kentucky fishing licenses three ways, in person from a local retailer, online from, or over the phone. 

To purchase your licenses and permits, you need two things:

  1. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or a Fish and Wildlife Gift Certificate are the only acceptable forms of payment.
  2. Need to provide a name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.


You can buy your Kentucky fishing license online through the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Online License Sales site. 

Payment methods accepted are Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card, or a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife gift certificate. 

When you purchase licenses or permits online, you will not receive a paper license or permit but instead an authorization number.

The authorization number, a printout of the license or permit, and an ID must be carried in the field while hunting or fishing. 

Licenses and permits can be reprinted for free online if they are lost of stolen.

Local Retailers

There are around 900 locations across the state where you can purchase a license. 

These places include country stores, county clerk’s offices, local hunting and fishing businesses, and chain stores that offer outdoor sporting goods are all on the license vendor list. 

By Phone

You can purchase licenses and permits by phone 24 hours a day at 877-598-2401. 

All types of licenses and permits are available to be purchased over the phone, with the exception of disability licenses, elk drawing applications, and youth licenses/permits.

How Much is a Fishing License in Kentucky?

Kentucky Resident Fishing License
Sportsman’s Hunting, Fishing & Permits$95.00
Senior Sportsman’s License$12.00
Youth Sportsman’s License$30.00
Combination Hunting & Fishing$42.00
Sportsman’s Disability License$12.00
Joint Married Couple Annual Fishing $42.00
1-Day Fishing $7.00
Annual Fishing$23.00
3-Year Fishing$55.00
KY Non-Resident Fishing License
1-Day Fishing $15.00
7-Day Fishing $35.00
Annual Fishing $55.00

Kentucky Bagging Limits

Fishing in Kentucky comes with its own set of limits for harvesting certain types of fish.

Any fish not specified on the list are considered rough fish and are exempt from size or creel limits unless otherwise defined by special regulations

A single fishing day is equivalent to a calendar day regarding creel limits. Unless otherwise indicated, anglers may catch and replace individual fish up to the daily creel limit on most bodies of water. 

Any additional that are caught must be released immediately. Some bodies of water have different sizes and creel limits, so be sure to check local regulations before you go.

Kentucky Fish Bagging LimitsDaily LimitPossession LimitMinimum Size Limit
Largemouth Bass61212”
Smallmouth Bass61212”
Kentucky (Spotted) Bass612none
Coosa Bass612none
Rock Bass1530none
Redear Sunfish2040none
Walleye, Sauger and their Hybrids61214” 
Chain Pickerel510none
Northern Pikenonenonenone
White & Hybrid Striped Bass15​30none**
Striped Bass51015”
Yellow Bassnonenonenone
Crappie (Black & White)20*40none
Rainbow Trout816none
Brown Trout1216”
​Cutthroat Trout​1​2​20″
Brook TroutCatch and release only  
Lake SturgeonCatch and release only  
Alligator Gar​Catch and release only​  
Channel Catfish 28″ and above1228​”
​ Blue & Flathead Catfish 35″ and above​1 each2 each35″
Channel Catfish below 28″​nonenonenone
​Blue & Flathead Catfish below 35″nonenonenone

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do people over 65 need a fishing license in Kentucky?

Yes, people over 65 need a fishing license in Kentucky.

The Senior Sportsman’s License is available exclusively to Kentucky senior residents aged 65 and older.

This license includes:
·  Combination hunting and fishing license
·  All deer permits
·  Spring turkey permit
·  Resident fall turkey permit
·  Kentucky migratory bird/waterfowl permit
·  trout permit

How much is a 1-day fishing license in the state of Kentucky?

A 1-day fishing license in the state of Kentucky is $7.00 for residents of the state and $15.00 for non-residents.

Do you need a fishing license for trout fishing in Kentucky?

You do need a fishing license for trout fishing in Kentucky. 

Not only do anglers in Kentucky need a fishing license, but they also need a trout permit, which costs $10.00.

How much is a fishing license in Kentucky for a non-resident?

How much a fishing license in Kentucky for a non-resident costs depends on the license type, and the amount of time needed. 

The non-resident fishing license Kentucky offers are:
– 1-day for $15.00
– 7-day for $35.00
– Annual Fishing license for $55.00

Final Thoughts

A Kentucky fishing license is essential in order to fish the waters around the beautiful state. Not only is it required by law, but it also benefits other anglers and helps ensure the integrity of its waters for generations to come. 

Getting a license is easy and inexpensive and helps support conservation efforts and stewardship of the environment.

A fishing license is an investment in future fisheries’ success.

Once you purchase your Kentucky fishing license, download the bass fishing lures cheat sheet.

Stay on top of your game and always know what lure to throw, no matter where you’re throwing it.