How much is a ticket for fishing without a License?

Fines and fees for fishing without a license in Florida

It seems that every sportsman needs to constantly check for licensing. Whether you are a freshwater fisherman or a saltwater fisherman, you need to have a license. But is obtaining a license really that important? Yes, it is. Apart from ecological impact that fishing without a license has, you could end up with a ticket and/or additional fines. Current with the 2018 FWC site, here are the consequences that you could face if you fish without the proper licenses in Florida.

A level system in the fines

The state of Florida has a 4-level tier system for the way that they issue fines related to noncriminal violations. They are dependent upon (a) the impact upon the natural resources (b) the amount of times that a person has committed the infraction and (c) where the infraction occurred.

Level one is the least impactful and is a violation that does not impact the natural resources. The fine is $50 plus the court costs and the cost of all needed licenses. Level one repeat infractions could be $100.

Level Two is a criminal offense as it directly affects the resources. An example of this would be if you exceed the bag limit, fish during closed seasons, violate artificial reefs, or use illegal fishing methods. For this the first infraction is a second-degree misdemeanor with $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Second conviction would result in a first-degree misdemeanor and $250 and a year in jail. Third conviction would be a first-degree misdemeanor and a mandatory $500, year in jail, and suspension of any existing permits with the FWC you may have. A fourth conviction within 10 years will add all the same fees as above, but the minimum fine is $750 and a three-year suspension of FWC license and permits.

Level Three is considered a violation of fish and wildlife laws. This level impacts resources and the environment directly and thereby are considered a more severe infraction. This infraction includes fishing for commercial levels of fish, using a gun and light on fishing, fishing more than the bag limit on trout, snook or redfish, taking 1000 pounds or more of finfish, or 100 or more lobsters, stone crabs, or blue crabs. The fine for such is a first-degree misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1000 and jail time. The second conviction is a first-degree misdemeanor and up to a year in jail with a added $750 to the fine, plus court costs, and a suspension of the FWC license.

Level four is a violation where the person uses a counterfeit license, tampers or steals fishing equipment, or illegally purchases or sells illegally harvested fish. This can result in a $5000 fine and up to five years in jail.

What if I fish after my license has been revoked?

If you are fishing without a license because your FWC fishing license has been revoked, then you are facing some very serious fees and penalties should you be caught fishing without a license in Florida. The minimum fine is a mandatory $1000 and a five year suspension of all FWC licenses and up to a year in jail.

I am a visitor and only want to fish for one day? Do I really need a license?

The few dollars, which are spent on a day license is advised for anyone that is fishing for just the day. Florida is constant with license checks. However, if you wish to avoid purchasing a license, then you could book a charter. Under Florida law you do not need a saltwater fishing license or a snook or spiny lobster permit if “you fish from a for-hire vessel (guide, charter, party boat) that has a valid vessel license.”.

For a full list of exemptions, see the MyFWC site.

Find out more about freshwater and saltwater fishing

To find out more about Florida’s freshwater and saltwater fishing, as well as which boats are the most appropriate for those waters, see the various articles on Vessel Vendor. If you are a resident of Florida and wish to explore the option of Charter boating, please look at the various pre-owned boats on our site as well as read our articles on weighting the pros and cons of charter boat fishing.

Should you have any specific questions about fishing without a license in the State of Florida, please contact the FWC. While this article relates the most current information, it is subject to change as legislation is apt to change to better suit the public and preserve the Florida ecosystem.

General inquiries about licenses, boating, and fishing in Florida can be submitted to Vessel Vendor through the appropriate form on the website.