Fishing handbook

For the small price of a fishing license, you too can enjoy angling in Pennsylvania’s many waterways.

During these tough economic times, we’ve all become bargain hunters. Let’s face it: A dollar just doesn’t go as far as it once did, so it is becoming more and more important to get the most out of the money we spend. My hands-down favorite pick as bargain of the year would undoubtedly be a Pennsylvania fishing license.

With a resident adult license going for $22.97, with an additional charge of $9.97 if you wish to fish for trout, how can you go wrong?

Keep in mind 2022 licenses first became valid for use on Dec. 1, 2021 and continue through Dec. 31, 2022. That’s more than a year of fishing opportunity. Other licenses are also available including 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day licenses as well as senior licenses and multi-year licenses. For a complete list of license and fees, visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website at

My question is this: if you spent that money on entertainment, just how far would it get you? Maybe one movie ticket, a soda and a popcorn? It might buy one meal at a nice restaurant, or possibly admittance to a sporting event. But I bet it wouldn’t get you much.

Look at the potential for entertainment with a fishing license. I admit, I’m certainly not a 365-day-a-year angler. However, if you consider that, I’m sure I went fishing at least several dozen times with my wife and friends last year, bringing the cost of my license, if divided between outings, down to only pennies a trip. How is that for stretching my entertainment dollars?

While I often practice catch-and-release fishing, I do on occasion keep a few fish for the dinner table. Have you priced fresh fish lately? Even frozen filets for more desirable species can be hard on your grocery budget. Over the year my family and I enjoyed a number of meals featuring fresh fish, including tasty species such as trout, crappie and catfish, along with a few others. These meals alone, without any consideration put towards entertainment value, easily covered the price of both my wife’s and my license cost.

What other benefits did I reap? By being stream or lake side, I had the opportunity to view a great variety of wildlife including eagles, shore birds, waterfowl, muskrats, mink, deer, squirrels, snakes and turtles. Just as importantly, it gave me a chance to relax and spend time with a number of good friends as well as a chance to meet a few other outdoor enthusiasts who I’m sure I would have otherwise never come into contact with.

Are there other costs to fishing besides the license fee? Of course there are, but I’ve chosen not to consider them, as how much you wish to invest in tackle is a personal choice. I know anglers who have thousands of dollars tied up in equipment, and I know others who are happy with tackle bought at discount stores, yard sales or even simply passed on by friends or family members.

I, for one, can be just as happy sitting along the bank with an old rod and reel that had been my father’s decades ago as I can be fishing in a fancy decked-out bass boat with all the bells and whistles. The truth is I simply enjoy fishing. Yes, I have a garage full of assorted fishing tackle that when added up cost a pretty penny, but that’s my choice. It is not a requirement.

Consider a fishing license, or better yet talk a friend or family member into one as well. Just think of all the possibilities. Spring and summer are both coming up fast. Just think of all those days you could spend relaxing along the water, swapping a few tall tales with someone whose company you enjoy.

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