Sarasota Fishing Regulations

Thousands of people come to Florida to fish. Over the years, as development began its encroachment on the coastline, marine habitats were threatened. In 1989, to provide funds for marine enhancement, enforcement and research, the Florida Legislature enacted a law requiring saltwater anglers to have a valid fishing license.


Fishing License

This went into effect at the beginning of 1990. Just a few years ago, not one southern state required a saltwater fishing license. Today, six of the nine coastal states in the southern U.S. require them. If you’re not sure weather you need a saltwater fishing license, this should help end your confusion. According to Florida law, you must posess a Florida Saltwater Fishing License, “if you take, attempt to take, or posess marine fish for noncommercial purposes. In addition size and bag limits along with closed seasons, have been put into effect to allow species to effectively spawn and maintain the fish population.

License Requirements

There are about a dozen exemptions to the fishing license requirements:

  1. You are under the age of 16.
  2. You are a Florida resident fishing in saltwater from land or from a structure fixed to land.
  3. You are fishing from a boat that has a valid Vessel Saltwater Fishing License
  4. You hold a valid saltwater products license, unless you are the owner, operator or custodian of a vessel for which a saltwater fishing license is required. Only one individual may claim this exemption at any given time.
  5. You are a Florida resident 65 years of age or older.
  6. You have been accepted by the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services for developmental services.
  7. You are fishing from a pier that has been issued a pier Saltwater Fishing License.
  8. You have been assigned by a court to a Health and Rehabilitative Services authorized rehabilitation program involving training in Florida aquatic resources.
  9. You are a Florida resident fishing for mullet in freshwater and have a valid Florida freshwater fishing license.
  10. You are a Florida resident fishing for a saltwater species in freshwater from land or from a structure fixed to the land.
  11. You are a Florida resident who is a member of the Armed Forces and not stationed in Florida while home on leave for 30 days or less, with valid orders in your possession.

If you are a Florida resident and are certified as totally and permanently disabled, you are entitled to receive, without charge from the county tax collector, a permanent saltwater fishing license. Now, some definitions:

A resident – is anyone who has continually resided in Florida for 6 months, anyone who has established a domicile in Florida and who has evidence of such as provided by the law, any member of the United States Armed Forces who is stationed in this state, or any student enrolled in a college or university in the state. An alien who can prove residency status is considered a resident for license purposes.

A marine fish – is any saltwater species of finfish of the classes Agnatha, Chondrichthyes, and Osteichthyes and marine invertebrates, in the classes of Gastropoda, Bivalvia, and Crustacea or the phylum Echinodermata. The definition of marine fish does not include nonliving shells or Echinoderms. Examples of fin fish are hogfish, sharks, trout, mackerel, rays, catfish, eel and tarpon. Examples of marine invertebrates are snails, whelks, oysters, clams, scallops, shrimp, crab, lobster, sea stars, sea urchins, starfish and sea cucumbers.

Land – is defined as the area of ground located within the geographic boundaries of the State of Florida that extends to a water depth of 4 feet. [So don’t stand in surf over 4 feet deep with a fishing pole and no license.] This includes any structure fixed to land. There’s a couple of things to watch for here that require a license. You are on a vessel or have used a vessel to reach ground or a structure. You are wading in more than four feet of water or have broken the surface of the water wearing face mask. [Boy they’re tough.]

A structure – fixed to land is defined as any pier, bridge, dock, floating dock, or jetty or similar structure that is permanently affixed to land. This definition does not include a vessel, derelict vessel, or floating structure other than a dock.

How much is a license, you ask?

Residents and nonresidents pay different fees. There are three options.


10-day                                       $ 10.00

1 YEAR                                      $ 12.50

YEAR                                         $ 61.50

A fee of $1.50 is added if you buy a license from a tax collector. $2.00 is added if you purchase it at another location, such as a bait and tackle shop. Applications for the 5-year license are available at the county tax collector’s office. A fee of $1.00 is charged for the application. While we try to keep up to date, license requirements and fees may change. Contact the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or the local tax collector’s office for the most current requirements and fees.