| The very first fishing licenses in Pennsylvania were issued
in 1919 and were required only for non-residents. Only 50 of
the $5 paper permits were sold that year. In 1922, licenses
first became required for resident anglers and sold for $1.
The very first resident licenses looked more like a
printed contract than what we think of licenses today. The
licenses were printed on white paper and outlined the
License buttons were introduced in 1923. The buttons were
roughly 1 3/4 inches in diameter with a simple metal pin for
displaying the button on an outer garment. Initially, the
buttons by themselves were not valid as a license - anglers
still had to carry the paper certification to be produced if
requested by fish warden.
The buttons were produced until 1960, when they simply
became too expensive. The Commission produced buttons again
in 1974 and 1975, but the prohibitive cost put an end to the
return engagement of metal licenses. In 1976, Pennsylvania
returned to paper licenses - but with a wrinkle. For the
first time, artwork was added. Since it was a bicentennial
year, the 1976 licenses featured a large blue Liberty Bell.
Starting the next year and continuing through 2007,
licenses featured line art of various fish species found
in the commonwealth.
In 2007 the Commission introduced an electronic fishing license delivery system named the Pennsylvania Automated
Licensing Service (PALS). Instead of license issuing agents filling out licenses by hand, fishing licenses
are computer generated and produced by a small printer. PALS retains licensee information, which will simplify future
year license purchases. To smooth the transition to the PALS system, traditional paper licenses were sold alongside
the new electronic licenses at most license issuing agents during 2007.
For the 2014 license year, the Commission introduced an optional button that could be purchased in addition to a "regular" paper license and displayed in place of the paper license. We have a FAQ dedicated to this Alternate Display Annual License Button. More information also availble in the press release announcing the introduction of this button.