Tennessee Fishing License: Costs, Types & How to Buy

Fishing in Tennessee has a lot to offer with trout, bass, walleye, and panfish species readily available to anglers. It’s crucial to know the rules and obtain the right fishing …

Fishing in Tennessee has a lot to offer with trout, bass, walleye, and panfish species readily available to anglers.

It’s crucial to know the rules and obtain the right fishing license in order to cast a line in the state’s beautiful waters legally.

Here’s our comprehensive guide to Tennessee fishing licenses, including types, costs, exemptions, and where to purchase them.

How Much Is a Tennessee Fishing License?

For resident anglers, the main annual license is a one-year Pennsylvania hunting and fishing license, which costs $33. For non-resident anglers, a one-year fishing license is available costing $49.

There is a range of different prices for shorter-duration licenses and special licenses. We’ve included and summarized all these in the tables below.

Tennessee Fishing License Age Requirement

In Tennessee, anyone aged 13 and above who takes, or attempts to take fish (including crayfish and salamanders), or assist someone else in doing so, must possess a valid fishing license. This rule applies to both residents and non-residents, whether fishing from the shore, a boat, or any other method. 

Here is the license fees page: https://www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales/#fishing

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Tennessee?

No fishing license is needed If:

  • You are under 13 years of age (resident or non-resident).
  • Landowners, their spouses, and children, who fish on their farmland which is owned by an individual or a family. Landowners, their spouses, and children must be residents of Tennessee but need not reside on the land.
  • Tenants, their spouses, and dependent children fish on farmland owned by an individual or a family. Tenants, their spouses, and dependent children must be residents of Tennessee and must actually reside on the land and have the permission of the landowner to fish. A tenant is a person who, for money or free rent, or other consideration, cares for farmland. The tenancy must be agricultural in nature.
  • Resident grandchildren (under 16) and resident great-grandchildren (under 16) who fish on farmland that is owned by their resident grandparents or great-grandparents.
  • First cousins who own farmland jointly or in common may fish on the farmland. Their children may fish as well.
  • You are on military leave, carrying a copy of your leave orders. A pass does not meet this requirement.
  • You are a resident who was born before March 1, 1926. (To qualify for this exemption, you must carry proof of your age and residency to show to a wildlife officer, if requested.)
  • It’s Free Fishing Day!
  • It’s Free Fishing Week! Children all ages 15 and younger can fish free during the free fishing week.

Tennessee Fishing License Cost and Types

Resident Fishing Licenses

Resident licenses can be purchased by:

  • Persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver’s license or Tennessee state ID issued by the Department of Safety. Tennessee state law requires drivers to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license within 30 days of residency. Out-of-state driver’s license only accepted for Military Personnel and Students meeting the criteria below.
  • Military personnel on active duty in Tennessee and children under 16 years of age who reside with them, regardless of Tennessee resident status.
  • Students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college or university for at least six months, with an appropriate student ID.
  • Persons who do not drive or do not possess a valid driver’s license from another state, but who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home, may prove residency by  presenting to a TWRA license agent any two of the following documents:
    • Current Tennessee voter registration card;
    • Current Tennessee vehicle registration or title;
    • Form I-94 issued by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service;
    • Current rental/mortgage contract or receipt including deed of sale for property or receipt for payment of Tennessee real estate taxes within last year.

Here are some common types of resident licenses:

License TypeCost
Annual Hunting & Fishing CombinationMinimum license required to fish and/or hunt small game$33.00
Junior Hunt, Fish & Trap (Ages 13-15) Good for hunting all game, fishing, and trapping. Must be purchased prior to 16th birthday. No supplemental licenses are required, but special season and WMA permits will need to be purchased in addition to this license.$9.00
County of Residence FishingThis license allows an angler to fish in his/her county of residence with natural bait (worms, crickets, corn, etc.), but not minnows. No artificial lures can be used. A supplemental license (Type 022) is required to fish for trout.$10.00
One-Day Fishing$6.00
Annual Trout (supplemental license required to catch this species)$22.00
One-Day Fishing – All Species$11.00
South Holston Lake Permit$20.00
Sportsman An all-inclusive license, valid for hunting, trapping, and sport fishing without any supplemental state licenses or permits. Sportsman licenses can be purchased from all TWRA license agents.$165.00
Annual Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap *$4.00
Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap *$49.00
Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman An all-inclusive license valid for hunting, trapping, and sport fishing without any state supplemental licenses or non-quota permits and allows holders to apply for quota permits at no additional fee. Annual Senior Sportsman licenses can be purchased from all license agents.$49.00

* Available at all license agents and can only be purchased when 65th birthday is reached. A valid Tennessee driver’s license or proof of age and residency is required. No supplemental licenses are required, but special season and WMA permits will need to be purchased in addition to this license. Fees apply when applying for quota hunt permits as well as “leftover” permits.

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Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

Non-residents have various options for fishing licenses in Tennessee, each tailored to their needs:

License TypeCost
Jr. Hunt/Fish Required for nonresidents age 13-15, fishing and small game only$10.00
Annual Fishing – No Trout (supplemental Annual Trout license required to pursue this species)$49.00
Three-Day Fishing – No Trout (supplemental Annual Trout license required to pursue this species)$20.00
Three-Day Fishing – All Species$40.00
Ten-Day Fishing – No Trout (supplemental Annual Trout license required to pursue this species)$30.00
Ten-Day Fishing – All Species$61.00
Annual Fishing – All Species$98.00

Who Can Purchase Discounted Tennessee Fishing Licenses?

Apart from the abovementioned licenses, certain exceptions apply. Residents with specific disabilities in the state are eligible for a discounted, lifetime fishing license. These licenses differ from Lifetime Sportsman Licenses and might need additional permits, but a trout license isn’t necessary.

License TypeCost
Annual Resident Hunting & Fishing Disabled Under 18
This is for Tennessee residents under 18 who meet the requirements of TCA 70-2-104. A physician licensed to practice in Tennessee must certify total and permanent disability. It needs to be renewed every year along with the fee and is necessary for certain permits.
$5.00
Hunt & Fish Intellect Disabled Resident
To use this license, you must live in Tennessee. Residents over 10 can buy it with a doctor’s certification for an intellectual disability as defined in TCA 33-1-101. Also, completing the Hunter Education Course (TCA 70-2-108) is necessary for applicants.
$10.00
Permanent Sport Fishing License for the Blind$10.00
Permanent Wheelchair Hunting and Fishing
Residents in Tennessee who are permanently confined to wheelchairs or have lost 75% or more of a lower limb can get a permanent combo hunting and fishing license. They need a certificate from a Tennessee-licensed physician confirming their permanent wheelchair restriction or significant limb amputation.
$10.00
Permanent DAV Hunting and Fishing
Available to resident veterans certified by the VA as 30 percent disabled by reason of war service or 100% service-connected.
$10.00
Permanent Mentally Challenged
Must be receiving SSI benefits due to intellectual disability
$10.00

Non-residents who were born in Tennessee may also apply for Native Tennessean annual licenses. These licenses provide nonresidents born in the state but no longer residing in the state, the opportunity to purchase annual Tennessee hunting/ fishing/trapping licenses at the same cost as a resident. Details and applications are available online at http://www.tnwildlife.org

Special Fishing Licenses in Tennessee

Tennessee provides special permits designed for specific fishing activities, in addition to the standard fishing licenses. These permits complement your fishing license, enabling fishing in specific water areas. If you have a Sportsman License, you won’t need these additional permits. Otherwise, here are the various permits available, which remain consistent for both residents and non-residents.

License TypeCost
Resident or Nonresident Gatlinburg 1-Day Trout Permit
Only requirement, ages 13 and up, to fish in Gatlinburg for one day.
$11.00
Gatlinburg Trout – Daily
Required for both residents and nonresidents ages 13-64 in addition to the appropriate fishing licenses except for nonresidents who purchase the Type 097 license.
$3.00
Gatlinburg 3-Day Trout Permit
Required for both residents and nonresidents ages 13-64 in addition to the appropriate fishing licenses except for nonresidents who purchase the (Type 097) permit.
$9.00
Tellico-Citico Trout-Daily
Required for all ages. Tellico-Citico Permit is required seasonally to fish Tellico River, Citico Creek, and year-round on Green Cove Pond.
$6.00
Agency Lake – Daily Permit
Required to fish Agency Fishing Lakes, except those under 16 years of age and residents 65 years or older.
$6.00
Agency Lake – Annual Permit
Valid on all Agency lakes, this permit is sold at Agency Lake offices.
$48.00
Bedford Lake Daily Permit$6.00

Where Can I Buy a Tennessee Fishing License?

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

You can get a fishing license at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices in person. Lifetime and certain other licenses that aren’t sold online can be obtained at a TWRA regional office using the proper form and instructions. Paper licenses won’t be sent by mail. Visit the official website for a list of office locations.

Online

For convenience, fishing licenses can be purchased online through the Go Outdoors Tennessee licensing system. This platform allows applicants to browse available license types, make their selection, and securely complete the purchase.

Walmart and other Retail Outlets

Licenses can also be purchased at numerous retail stores, including Walmart, bait and tackle shops, and sporting goods retailers. You can check the list of licensed retailers on the official website to find a location near you.

What Happens With Tennessee Fishing License Fees?

Fishing license fees play a vital role in supporting conservation efforts, habitat restoration, stocking programs, and various initiatives that ensure the sustainability of Tennessee’s aquatic resources.

Does Tennessee Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Tennessee has reciprocity agreements with various other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. This allows residents of one state to fish in the waters of another state without purchasing a separate fishing license, as long as they abide by the fishing regulations of the state they are visiting.

To identify the waters affected by this section, as well as other General Fishing Laws, you can check out this link to learn more.

Does Tennessee Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

Tennessee offers lifetime fishing licenses for residents and non-residents. These licenses grant lifelong access to fishing in Tennessee, making them a convenient and budget-friendly choice for enthusiastic anglers.

For Tennessee residents who’ve lived in the state for 12 consecutive months before buying the license, there’s the Lifetime Sportsman License. Applicants under the age of 3 require a parent meeting this residency requirement to apply.

This license mirrors the privileges of an Annual Sportsman License for hunting and fishing, valid for life, even if you move out of state. It’s non-transferable, non-refundable, and includes a certificate.

To apply, you’ll need to present your Tennessee Driver’s License or one year of residency proof. Applicants under 16 without a license must provide their parent’s license and their birth certificate.

To obtain the application, contact the TWRA Nashville Office at (615) 781-6500 or download it for mailing/faxing to (615) 837-4262. Email applications at lifetime.license@tn.gov are accepted but carry an identity theft risk. Unfortunately, online purchase isn’t available; the application form includes fee details found here.

License TypeCost
Under 3 years$320.00
Ages 3-6$659.00
Ages 7-12$988.00
Ages 13-50$1976.00
Ages 51-64$1153.00
Ages 65 & over$329.00
Adopted child under 13Must provide proof that adoption occurred within 3 years of application.$320.00

Conclusion

Fishing in Tennessee is a rewarding experience, and obtaining the right fishing license ensures compliance with state regulations while contributing to conservation efforts. Whether fishing for sport or leisure, securing the appropriate license sets the stage for an enjoyable and fulfilling angling adventure in the Volunteer State.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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