i’ve caught a lot of fish this year and my freezer is getting full. my pond is also full of fish. is it legal for me to sell fish i catch or do i need some kind of commercial fishing license?


9 Responses to “Is It Legal To Sell Fish I Catch While Pleasure Fishing?”

  • Chadd says:

    I would say no, it is not legal. However, I don’t know what state you’re in and you need to check your state’s fishing proclamation — it will cover such considerations. In every state I’ve fished in, it is blatantly illegal to sell fish you catch with a recreational fishing license. I’ve seen regulations that prohibit even giving fish away to others.
    Now, are such things enforced and are you going to get caught doing this? Maybe yes, probably no. I wouldn’t think your house will be swarmed by SWAT teams for taking $20 from a buddy in exchange for some fresh fish. However, I’m willing to bet you will be breaking the law and if by chance you were caught, the penalties could be stiff — fines, suspension of license, and maybe even confiscation of fishing gear.
    Also, many states specify that the catch limit is a possession limit. This means that if the limit for bass is 3 per day, you are only permitted to have 3 bass, period. You cannot have 3 bass you caught today, 3 cooking in a frying pan, and 3 more you put in the freezer. Check your proclamation to be sure.
    All of these regulations are meant to prevent recreational fishing from becoming an unregulated, commercial concern. There are many reasons states do not want recreational anglers from opening fish markets and selling their catch to the public — fishing pressure, health concerns, legal liability, competition with commercial fishermen… you name it.
    EDIT: I see that some well-meaning people say that you should barter or keep the sale of your fish very casual. Now, maybe you’re worried about legalities because you don’t want to get caught, or maybe you don’t want to disobey the law no matter what. I repeat that if you are concerned about whether it’s lawful to sell, trade, or give away your fish, you should read your state fish proclamation (you should read it anyway). Most states have online fishing regs, and they are available for free anywhere sporting goods are sold.
    Here’s the very first line of the Ohio Hunting & Fishing Regulations:
    “It is unlawful to buy or sell any fish taken by angling from any water area in the state where an Ohio Fishing License is required.”
    Here’s some language from the Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules:
    “IT IS UNLAWFUL to sell or buy fish or parts of fish taken from Idaho waters EXCEPT as provided by Idaho Code.”
    (Their capitalization, not mine.) In other words, you have to be a licensed commercial fisherman to sell. Could a fish and game officer make a case that you’re “selling” fish if you give your buddy a bagful of fresh fish every week and he gives you a box of 30-30 shells? Stranger things have happened. Here’s more:
    “No person shall transport for another or accept as a gift any game fish unless a proxy statement signed by the taker accompanies the fish, showing the number and kinds, the date taken, the taker’s name, address, and fishing license number. See page 41 for the proxy form.”
    In other words, even giving fish away requires a legal paper trail in Idaho. In other states you are not permitted to give fish away at all. These rules are in place to prevent recreational angling from becoming a sort of gray-market, secondary economy, for the reasons I mentioned above.

  • Artie says:

    why don’t you get in touch with your states local office of fish and game and ask them if they want to host a sort of “let’s go fishing” at your pond? And have it be for handicapped or underprivileged children. One of the most heart touching and encouraging things in my life I ever am glad to talk about was how humbling teaching a class of blind children to cast and fish was for me. Yes it was hard, but all of them heard the words, and were very quick at picking up every concept we taught. We did it at one of the local lake parks.
    as far as your question goes: Marketing and selling is one thing but offering extra fillets to friends who feel the need to give you something as an exchange of sorts is how to keep it perfectly legal.

  • dumdum says:

    It is only legal to sell rough fish.It is not legal to sell sport fish. rough fish are gar, buffalo, carp, shad,catfish, goo, and I’m sure i’m forgetting several.And to sell anything will require a commercial fishing license.

  • HDrider says:

    Not sure what state your in, but here in Ohio its not exactly legal. However as long as your not trying to make it into an extra income or business I think youll be ok. I wouldnt put any adds in the paper or anything, just sell a bit to people you know.

  • Bruce M says:

    Not in New York for the most part. As the new laws go it will become even harder as well. Pick up your state game law book.. the one you get with you buy your lic. it should tall you if and how you can or can not.

  • castmone says:

    I know a lot of older people who do it to make extra money so I don’t think it is a problem cause a lot of people do it out of the house. But I would check cause every state has different laws.

  • guitars1 says:

    if it is frech water then no no

  • Seph says:

    It should be fine. I can’t imagine anyone going to everyone selling fish and asking for a licence.

  • robbieco says:

    I would say it’s illegal. But if you barter with someone and no “money” is exchanged you should not have a problem.