North Carolina Fishing License Information

Fishing in Western NC

The NC Wildlife Resource Commission has over 50 resident and over 25 non-resident fishing, hunting and trapping licenses and permits to choose from. With options ranging from short-term to annual to lifetime licenses they are sure to have the correct license for every type of outdoorsmen. Be sure to check out their special rates, some of which are free, for children, disabled individuals and senior citizens.

Note: Certain licenses require the applicant to first complete a safety course.

The Wildlife Resource Commission has four options for obtaining a fishing license, all of which can be accessed from their Fishing, Hunting and Trapping licensing page.

  1. Order online with your driver’s license number and Visa or MasterCard. The form allows you to search licenses by term, residency status and type of recreational activities you plan on taking part in.
  2. Use their Wildlife Service Agent locator to find an agent near you. Agents include many recreation outfitters, hardware stores and superstores such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart.
  3. Call 1-888-2HUNTFISH (1-888-248-6834) Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Have your Visa or MasterCard number ready.
  4. Browse the NC WRC license options and download and print an application. Please select your NC residency status to begin: Resident | Non-resident.

For more information please read the licensing FAQ here.

Fishing Regulations

To maintain wild populations and protect hatchery raised fish the NC Wildlife Resource Commission has established and extensive set of regulations that make up their 75+ page Regulations Digest. Updated annually, this publication is a must have for local and visiting sportsmen. It contains information on fishing, hunting and trapping seasons; size, creel and harvest limits; fishing consumption advisories; state records; state citation requirements; and much more.

Fishing Specific Regulations

The NC WRC has a page specifically designed to inform visitors of their visitors about Fishing Regulation. Some highlights of that page are as follows:

  1. Warmwater Game Fish (PDF) – Creel and size limits for game fish.
  2. Mountain Trout (PDF) – Trout specific regulations for North Carolina.

Note: Trout fishing regulations, including season, bait restrictions, and creel and size limits vary significantly between NC’s various distinctions of Mountain Trout waters. It is important to understand these distinctions, which are laid out in the Mountain Trout (PDF) above. It is also important to pay close attention to the NC WRC Trout Signs posted along the banks of all Public Trout waters in WNC. Click here to learn more about NC WRC Trout Signs.

Private Property

Large portions of WNC’s public trout fishing habitat is located on private lands. Please be respectful of landowners by removing trash and treading lightly on their property. Failure to do so could result in restrictions or elimination of access to these streams and rives in the future.

Regulations for Boating in NC Waterways

Bass Fishing From a Boat - Photo US FWS - Fred Youngblood

Registration, titling and regulation of boating in North Carolina is handled or overseen by the Wildlife Resource Commission. For complete information including vessel registration and titling; personal watercraft laws; weight restrictions; boating access area regulations; boater safety courses; FAQs; maps and much more please visit the NC WRC Boating and Waterways page.

Note: North Carolina requires all children under 13 to wear Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) whenever they are on a recreational vessel. Click here for more information.

Fishing in Western NC

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Fishing in Asheville - WNC Outdoor Activities
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Outdoor Gear Outfitters and
Discount Camping Supplies.
2007 Best of WNC. 
The Whitewater Sportsman
(828) 216-1336
The Whitewater Sportsman
Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Guided Float Trips from $250
The French Broad and Other Rivers