Yes, Florida law enforcement officers can ask for your fishing license. According to the 2023 Florida Statutes, law enforcement officers have the authority to inspect and search any boat, fishing appliance, storage or processing plant, fish house, spongehouse, oysterhouse, or other warehouse, building, or vehicle engaged in transporting or storing any fish or fishery products. This authority to search and inspect without a search warrant is limited to those cases in which such law enforcement officers have reason to believe that fish or any saltwater products are taken or kept for sale, barter, transportation, or other purposes in violation of laws or rules adopted under this law.
Florida residents and visitors must possess a Florida hunting, freshwater fishing, or saltwater fishing license when engaged in fishing and hunting activities. A license is required to attempt to take fish. You need a fishing license if you cast a line or catch and release. Licenses and permits are available online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, in person at a license agent or tax collector’s office, or by calling toll-free 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356).
However, there are some exemptions. For instance, Florida residents fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that are not equipped with a fishing-line-retrieval mechanism, and fishing for noncommercial purposes in their home county (does not include fish management areas within the home county) are exempt. Also, anyone on board who is not fishing does not need a fishing license – even if they are on a vessel that has people fishing.
For more information on Florida fishing licenses, rules, and regulations, you can visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.
For a more detailed understanding of the rules and regulations governing fishing in Florida, you can refer to the Florida Statutes.