Fishing Without a License in Oregon

Two of the most important items you need before you go fishing is your fishing license and any appropriate tags. If caught fishing without a license and/or tag, you could be facing some harsh consequences that could result in the seizure of your fishing boat, tackle, and any other equipment used. For commercial anglers especially, these consequences could mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Fishing in Oregon
Fishing is very popular in Oregon, and citations for fishing without a license are common.

In general, all anglers 12 years or older, you must have — in their possession — a valid Oregon Angling License to angle for or take, or help another angle for or take, any fish and you must have a valid Oregon Shellfish License to take any shellfish.

A few exceptions to this rule when fishing without a license is allowed includes, but may not be limited to:

  • During Free Fishing Weekend(s);
  • When taking crayfish or bullfrogs;
  • When Oregon resident landowners are angling on land they own, except when angling for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut; and
  • When an Oregon resident is angling on land owned by an immediate family member, and resides on that land, except when angling for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut.

Anglers must also have a valid Combined Angling Harvest Tag (regardless of age) if you are angling for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut. If you are caught angling for any of these species without the tag you could face a license suspension, fines and fees, the forfeiture of your fishing supplies, and probation.

In addition to the licenses and tags listed above, another key component that anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin are required to have is a Columbia River Basin Endorsement. According to ODFW 2016 regulations:

  • Cost is $9.75 a year when purchased with an annual fishing license, or $9.75 plus a $2 agent fee when purchased separately.
  • Cost is $1 per day for daily fishing licenses.
  • Endorsement will be in addition to a fishing license and Combined Angling Tag.
  • Required when fishing for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon on all rivers and streams in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Anglers with a resident disabled veteran, resident pioneer, youth license and youth under 12 licenses, will be issued a free endorsement upon request to fish for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin.

As with fishing without a license and fishing without the appropriate tag, fishing without the appropriate endorsement can lead to serious consequences. Whether you are a commercial fisherman or you fish for sport, if you have been charged with a fishing violation, contact an Oregon criminal defense attorney to schedule an initial consultation. We handle these cases, and we’d be happy to help.

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