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State fishing licenses a bargain

As the nation waits in nervous anticipation as the massive oil spill looms off the central Gulf Coast, it appears a slow westward movement of the slick will be to the good fortune of Alabama and the detriment of Louisiana.

Still, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the impact of the spill on the entire Gulf of Mexico, and anglers are trying to maximize their time with a line in the water in anticipation that the spill will force officials to close state waters to fishing at some point.

Before the oil spill became a factor in fishing on the Alabama Coast, the Alabama Legislature decided to make it easier for out-of-state visitors to purchase a reasonably priced license to fish the public piers on inside waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

House Bill 386 establishes a non-resident public pier fishing license for an annual fee of $10. The legislation also changes the annual expiration date of public pier fishing licenses and saltwater pier fishing licenses to Aug. 31.

Alabama residents can purchase an annual pier license for $5. Both pier licenses also require an issuance fee of $1 per license, which means a non-resident pier license would cost a total of $11 and the resident pier license would be a total of $6.

The public piers include Gulf State Park Pier, Fairhope Pier and Fort Morgan Pier. Dauphin Island Pier is landlocked and no fishing is available. Residents and nonresidents are required to purchase a fishing permit at Gulf State Park Pier in addition to the pier license.

Just to make sure everyone understands what the new licenses entail, the new pier license would cover only fishing from the pier structures. If you fish from the surf next to the pier, you will have to have a regular saltwater fishing license, whether resident or non-resident. If you fish in saltwater anywhere else in Alabama waters, you’ll have to have a regular saltwater fishing license with one exception: fishing on board a licensed charter boat. Charter boats, both inshore and offshore, purchase licenses that cover all anglers on board.