New fishing licenses go on sale each year on Dec. 1. While that is no great revelation, Pennsylvania anglers will now have the option to purchase multi-year fishing licenses rather than an annual license. Because I've bought a Pennsylvania fishing license every year since I turned 16, I was interested to learn that three-year and five-year fishing licenses would be available when I saw an announcement about them several weeks ago on the Fish and Boat Commission website. At that time, no pricing information was provided, but I assumed one of the new multi-year licenses would represent a worthwhile savings compared to buying three or five annual licenses. When the Fish and Boat Commission finally posted the multi-year prices last week, however, any saving appeared meager at best.
For example, a resident fishing license costs $22.70. The new three-year license costs $64.70 and the five-year license is $106.70. Those prices reflect a savings of just $3.40 or $6.80 respectively, or about a 5 percent discount on the 3-year and 6 percent off the 5-year. Of course, each season many of us also need to buy a trout stamp or Lake Erie permit, which cost $9.70 each, or the combination trout stamp and Lake Erie permit costing $15.70. Adding a trout stamp or Lake Erie permit brings the total cost to $90.40 for a three-year license and $148.40 for a five-year license, while a three-year license with a combination permit will be $108.40 or $178.40 for the five-year license. Any of these options will only save you another $3.40 on a three-year license and $6.80 on a five-year. Overall, those prices mean the most you can save is $13.60 over five years.
Actually, there is no real discount on the cost of the fishing license itself when purchasing a multi-year license. All fishing licenses - resident, senior and non-resident - as well as each trout stamp, Lake Erie permit and combination permit include $1.70 in fees. The issuing agent who sells the license gets one dollar and the other 70 cents is the processing fee for the Pennsylvania Automated Licensing Service. The cost of a multi-year license and any applicable stamps or permits just includes the $1.70 fee for the initial purchase and not for the other two or four years. The ability to waive the issuing fees for those subsequent years is how the slight savings on the multi-year licenses are derived.
In addition to the slight cost savings, the Fish and Boat Commission is also offering some other incentives to those who purchase a multi-year license, including an online subscription to Pennsylvania Angler and Boater magazine and special offers and discount coupons from sporting goods stores. It will be interesting to see if the meager savings and the other inducements will be enough to entice many folks to fork out the extra cash upfront for a multi-year license. Personally, I will just keep buying an annual license for the next several years until I qualify for the senior lifetime fishing license, which is a relatively good deal.
Speaking of senior fishing licenses, you only have to look at the prices for the senior multi-year licenses to realize how detached from reality most bureaucrats really are. For those folks aged 65 or older, an annual fishing license costs $11.70 and a lifetime license is just $51.70. There is no senior discount on additional stamps or permits, but lifetime license holders need only purchase a trout stamp, Erie permit or combination permit one time.
The price of the new three-year senior fishing license will be $31.70, so for another 20 bucks one could purchase the lifetime ticket. The five-year senior fishing license is $51.70. That's right, our Fish and Boat Commission will be glad to sell senior citizens a five-year license for the same price as a lifetime one. If that's not silly enough, consider they also provide a 5-year senior license with a trout stamp for $93.40. Someone really needsto explain to me why that could possibly be a good idea. That's nearly double the cost of a senior lifetime license and trout stamp at $61.40 and you are good to go forever.
Whether you will opt for one of the new multi-year fishing licenses or stay with the traditional annual license, the 2013 fishing licenses are on sale now at hundreds of issuing agents throughout the state or online at www.pa.wildlifelicense.com. A new fishing license is also a great gift idea for any anglers on your Christmas list.