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Q&A
Display Fishing License
Question
Why am I required to display my license when fishing?
Answer
The Commission believes that open display of fishing licenses is more convenient for anglers, makes enforcement more effective and less intrusive, and encourages compliance with fishing license requirements.

When an angler’s license is checked by a law enforcement officer, it is much more convenient and less disruptive if the license is displayed. It’s true that a detailed check of the license will require a close inspection of the license information and other identification, but in many cases our officers do a cursory check to just make sure the person has a current valid license and/or permits (as required). Instead of asking every angler to pull their license out of their wallet, the officer can simply check it on their cap or vest. This is better for both the angler and the officer. What most anglers do not realize is the fact that an officer may have conducted a license compliance check by utilizing binoculars to determine if they were properly licensed. If the angler was not in violation of any other rules or regulations, the officer generally does not interrupt the angler’s fishing time by conducting a one on one license check.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of peer pressure among sportsmen. We believe that anglers respond positively to the peer pressure brought by fellow sportsmen. When display of a fishing license is required, as it is now, it is obvious to everyone around who is in compliance and who is not. Peer pressure encourages compliance, and the display of the fishing license makes it clear to all on the waters who has a license and who may not. If display were not required, we believe compliance with license requirements would be reduced. This would reduce Fish Fund revenues and could impact programs of importance to Pennsylvania anglers.

The Commission believes the current regulations work well and represent a balanced approach to this issue. The Commission receives few complaints about license display requirements. Remember, our regulations require issuance of a warning for a first violation of the display requirement. The Commission has taken positive action to address some of the concerns expressed by those who don’t like the current display requirement. One of these concerns was that an angler will leave his license on a favorite hat or vest and then find himself in a situation where he or she wants to go fishing and doesn’t have a license. The Commission modified its regulations to provide a systematic approach to deal with persons who are caught fishing without a license in possession and gives that person who already has a fishing license, but doesn’t have it with him seven days to produce the license and avoid a fine.

Almost all Pennsylvania anglers take pride in displaying their fishing license; it’s not unusual to see anglers displaying their license even when they’re not fishing!

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