Fishing license buttons make return

Bob Frye
| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Anglers will see something once old and now new along the water this year.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is going to sell fishing license buttons starting in March.

The buttons won't take the place of a paper license. Anglers will have to get one of those, as always, and carry it on their person.

Buttons won't be required to fish either. But, for an additional $5, anglers who want a license button can get one bearing their personal customer identification number. Wearing it on a hat or pocket will meet the requirement to display a license while fishing.

License buttons were the norm for decades starting in the 1930s, said Bernie Matscavage, director of the commission's bureau of administration.

The agency has long heard from anglers who wanted to see them brought back.

“We think this may prove popular with those people who fish or are just collectors,” Matscavage said.

Anglers will have a hand in determining what this year's buttons look like. In shape and size they'll be comparable to the “vintage” license buttons last seen in 1974, Matscavage said.

But from Friday through Jan. 31, the commission will conduct a poll on its website,, to determine their color. Visitors to the website will get to pick from seven options. The color that gets the most votes will be the one available this spring.

The buttons will be available at a limited number of locations initially, such as through the commission's online “Outdoor Shop” and at commission offices. Outlets will expand to include all vendors over time, executive director John Arway said.

Seniors who hold lifetime Pennsylvania fishing licenses will have to buy buttons each year. A youth-oriented button may follow some day.

In the meantime, commissioners said this is a good start on something that could provide exciting to anglers.

“I think this is going to be fun. I think it's going to be popular,” board president G. Warren Elliott of Franklin County said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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