Should the cost of fishing and hunting licenses be on a sliding scale based upon age? Kids who have not yet seen their 16th birthday do not even need a fishing license in California. At the other end of the age range, seniority doesn’t earn any dividends in the form of reduced fees.


Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

I’m honestly scratching my chin over just how fair this seems. Kids get a break, but in most cases it is the parents — many of whom work good jobs — who get the financial break. Does a senior citizen need a break that reduces his costs by about $30 a year? The answer differs from one senior to the next.

In the case of the kids, part of the reasoning for the break is to make it easy and appealing to get involved with the healthy sport of fishing. Seniors have had a lifetime of opportunity to fish, however, so for them a financial break would be just because it helps them make ends meet. Putting some fresh-caught fish on the table is also a way to help make ends meet. A very healthy and tasty way to help make ends meet.

While the ability of a person to pay for a fishing license is — and should be — an important issue, it is not the only one. Finding adequate funding for critical work to be done is equally important, if we are to manage our game and our environment for sustainability.

In many states, resident senior citizens are provided with reduced-price or free fishing licenses. This is a service to seniors who, after years of purchasing full-priced licenses, may now live on fixed incomes. However, the reduced-price and free licenses has an effect on the funds available for fisheries improvements and conservation by limiting license revenues and matching federal dollars.

In a January national poll by, anglers were asked if seniors should be offered free or discounted fishing licenses. According to the poll of 1,781 anglers, most respondents said seniors should receive price breaks. Specifically, 46 percent of anglers said senior anglers should get free licenses while 28 percent preferred half-price licenses for seniors.  Another 13 percent of anglers polled indicated that discounted licenses should only be provided to seniors who demonstrate a financial need. Only 5 percent reported seniors should purchase full-priced licenses and 8 percent felt the issue was more complicated than this or had no opinion.

So, what do you think? Let us know below.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.