Fishing Without a License in New Jersey: Where You Can and Don’t

Unlicensed fishing in New Jersey is as big a law enforcement problem here as it is anywhere else. In other words, fishing without a license is the number one violation of freshwater fisheries law. In salt water, however, the story is a little different. So let’s look at the New Jersey requirements separately.

NJ freshwater license requirements

If you are 16 or older, you will need a New Jersey fishing license for most of the year to fish in freshwater. This includes public and private lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Exceptions are farmers and family members who live on a farm. You do not need a license, but you must comply with general fishing regulations. Another exception is for New Jersey residents who are 70 years or older. You do not need a freshwater fishing license at any time. Such a resident only needs a driver’s license or other proof of age and appearance when fishing in the Garden State’s freshwater.

Free freshwater fishing days

You may be wondering if there is any place in New Jersey where you can fish without a license. There are some instances each year where someone can go freshwater fishing in freshwater without a license in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife offers a “Free Fishing Day” in the spring and again in the fall. The aim is to encourage more people to fish in the state. On these days, you can fish legally anywhere in New Jersey without a license. In 2019, October 19th is the autumn day without fishing.

NJ saltwater license requirements

A freshwater license in New Jersey does not affect saltwater fishing. When it comes to saltwater fishing – including fishing in a bay, in the ocean, or from the surf – New Jersey does not require residents or non-residents to hold a saltwater recreational license.

However, saltwater anglers 16 and over must enroll in the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program if fishing solo. Registration is not required if you are fishing on a rented vessel (which is registered in the program) such as a charter or party boat. When registered you will be given a number that is valid for the year and you won’t have to worry about fishing in the New Jersey salt waters without a license. Registration is free and allows the state to know how many people actually fish in salt water in the state each year.

Get your fishing license today and help conserve your state’s aquatic resources.


Related Articles