Ohio is probably best known for its huge whitetail deer, but there are ample fishing opportunities to be had in the Buckeye State. In addition to the bountiful waters of Lake Erie, there are plenty of lakes, rivers, and streams for anglers to explore and fish. You might be surprised by the size of some of the giants that have come from Ohio waters, including Randy VanDam's colossal 9-pound, 8-ounce smallmouth bass that was caught there back in 1993. The only question is which Ohio fishing license should you buy? Well, we're here today to quickly break it all down in easy-to-understand terms so you'll know exactly what you need to buy for your angling adventures this coming season.
Resident Fishing Licenses
Ohio offers a ton of options for residents. Perhaps the best part is that you can purchase multi-year and even lifetime options where you pay a fee one time and then never worry about getting a fishing license ever again. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, these are the standard licenses offered to residents:
- One-day license: $14.00
- One-year license: $25.00
- Three-year license: $72.11
- Five-year license: $120.18
- 10-year license: $240.36
- Lifetime license: $599.04
- Resident youth lifetime license: $430.56
If you're a resident, the one-day fishing license doesn't make a ton of sense, especially since it's only an $11 difference between that and the annual. Anglers do have the option to upgrade a one-day license for $12, but at that point you're probably wishing you just bought the yearlong option. The lifetime license is probably the best bargain here. If you have children or grandchildren, consider getting them the youth lifetime license and save them a lifetime of fees. The only catch is that it must be purchased before the child reaches 16 years of age.
Seniors also have the option for reduced fees on an annual license. Those costs break down as follows:
- Senior resident one-year license: $10.00
- Senior resident three-year license: $27.04
- Senior resident five-year license: $45.07
- Senior resident lifetime license: $84.24
Once again, the resident senior lifetime license is the best option on the table if you just moved to Ohio or you didn't already have a lifetime license. It's a nice bit of peace of mind to know you're covered forever in the state of Ohio and don't have to worry about when that multi-year license expires.
Nonresident Fishing Licenses
Only Ohio residents have the option for multi-year licenses. But the Buckeye State still offers some solid nonresident fishing license options for visitors. According to the DNR, the options and cost break down as follows:
- Nonresident one-day license: $14.00
- Nonresident three-day license: $25.00
- Nonresident one-year license: $50.96
Ohio does offer the option to upgrade a one-day license to a one-year license for an additional $37.44 if you find you want to spend more time angling in the Buckeye State. For short trips, the three-day license makes more sense. But, if you live in a neighboring state such as Kentucky and regularly fish shared waters including the Ohio River, the one-year is probably your best option. The annual licenses are good for one year from the date of purchase. That's it for nonresident licenses. We appreciate that Ohio keeps these licenses simple and to the point.
Free Fishing Days and License Exemptions
Just like every other state, Ohio does have two free fishing days. These are slated to be June 19 and 20--the same weekend as Father's Day. Sounds like a good way to spend the holiday to us. Those are the only free days, but there are some notable license exemptions. Anyone under 16 years of age does not need a license. Likewise, anyone born on or before Dec. 31, 1937, is also eligible for a free license.
Another nice thing is that some residents are eligible for completely free licenses. This includes disabled veterans, former prisoners of war, and residents of state and county institutions. It's not just limited to injured vets, though. Anyone who is mobility-impaired can also get a free license. The DNR requires you to contact them and fill out a form, but it's worth the extra effort. Anyone who holds a veteran license plate with a wheelchair symbol is also eligible for a free license.
All residents can fish privately owned waters without a license. That includes ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. Just be certain that it isn't a water body in which fish can pass freely to public waters. For instance, fishing a small pond that's connected to a public creek or river would require you to purchase a license.
Other exemptions for a license include active-duty members of the armed forces who are either on furlough or on leave. We recommend having a military ID card in case you encounter a conservation officer. Also note that you will need a license if you are not immediately on leave or furlough. Anyone giving assistance to someone holding a blind or mobility-impaired fishing license is also exempt, so long as only one line is being used.
Where To Purchase an Ohio Fishing License
Fishing license sales can take place at just about any tackle shop or sporting goods store in the state. However, we do like the ease of buying an Ohio fishing license online through the DNR's website. Especially since you can then bring up your license instantly on your mobile device. No more worries about having left your wallet at home. You can even purchase your license on the way to the lake if you forgot to get one ahead of time. It's also the easiest way to get a duplicate license if you manage to lose or misplace your Ohio fishing license.
That's basically everything you need to know about being legal for fishing in the Buckeye State. Time to get out there and start catching the big ones!
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram. For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
READ MORE: WHERE DOES YOUR HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSE MONEY GO?
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