Michigan Fishing Licenses

Fishing in Michigan offers you a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the diverse freshwater fish species, explore scenic lakes and rivers, and create lasting memories with family and friends. This comprehensive guide serves as a comprehensive guide to Michigan fishing licenses. You’ll discover various aspects of fishing in Michigan, such as license requirements, the different options available for residents and non-residents, and the costs associated with these licenses. You’ll also learn about the state’s fishing laws and regulations, including seasons, size limits, and gear restrictions, ensuring responsible and ethical angling.

Michigan Fishing License

Michigan Fishing License Requirements

If you are 17 years of age or older, you must have a fishing license to fish in the public waters of Michigan. Those under the age of 17 can fish without a license, but they still need to abide by all the fishing rules and regulations. Also, if you’re an adult actively helping a minor with fishing, you must have a license too.

A fishing license in Michigan covers fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and reptiles. Licenses are valid from March 1st of a given year through March 31st of the following year. It’s important to note that obtaining a fishing license does not grant access to private or restricted waters. You’ll need to obtain permission from the landowner or manager before fishing in such areas.

As for additional permits or stamps, the basic fishing license does not include them. You may need to acquire separate permits for certain species or areas, like sturgeon, salmon, trout, or waterfowl.

To obtain a fishing license, you should consider if you’re a resident or non-resident. Residents are anyone who has lived in Michigan continuously for six months or longer. Both residents and non-residents can purchase the fishing license, but the fees may be different. Senior citizens typically have a reduced fee for their licenses. To prove your residency, you should provide proof of residency and identification when purchasing your license.

Types of Michigan Fishing Licenses

As an angler in Michigan, you’ll find various fishing licenses available based on your resident status, duration, intended species, and age.

Annual all-species resident$26Allows the holder to fish for all legal species in Michigan for one year
Annual all-species non-resident$76Allows the holder to fish for all legal species in Michigan for one year
Annual all-species senior$11Allows the holder who is 65 years of age or older or legally blind to fish for all legal species in Michigan for one year (Michigan residents only)
Annual all-species youth$2Allows the holder, who is under 17 years old, to fish for all legal species in Michigan for one year (voluntary license for residents or non-residents)
Daily all-species resident/non-resident$10/dayAllows the holder to fish for all legal species in Michigan for one day (the date and time can be set by the angler)
Underwater spearfishingFreeAllows the holder to fish with a spear or spear gun in designated waters for certain species (resident or non-resident, requires monthly effort and harvest reporting)

How Much Is a Michigan Fishing License?

The cost of a Michigan fishing license depends on the type, duration, and age of the license, as well as the residency status of the angler. Keep in mind that, in addition to the prices listed above, there are additional fees and taxes that may apply to the purchase of a fishing license.

  • $1 sportcard fee for those who don’t have a Michigan driver’s license or state ID card.
  • $1.25 convenience fee for online purchases.
  • 3% surcharge for credit card payments.
  • $0.75 transaction fee for in-person purchases at a license agent.
  • $2.50 transaction fee for phone purchases.

You can save money on fishing licenses by considering the following options:

  • Buy a combination license that includes hunting and fishing privileges. For residents, the combo license costs $76, while nonresidents pay $266. Seniors and legally blind people can purchase the combo license for $43.
  • Opt for an annual license instead of multiple daily licenses, which typically cost $10 per day.
  • Take advantage of the free fishing weekends held twice a year in Michigan, usually in February and June.

Remember to have proof of residency, such as a valid Michigan driver’s license or state ID card, when purchasing your fishing license to ensure the correct fees are applied.

Michigan Fishing Laws & Regulations

Fishing in Michigan is regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which sets the rules and limits for fishing in the state. As an angler, you must follow the fishing laws and regulations that apply to the waters, species, and gear that you are fishing with, and you are responsible for knowing and complying with the current regulations.

Keep in mind that fishing laws and regulations may vary by county, lake, river, or stream, so always check the local regulations before fishing in a new area. Additionally, fishing laws and regulations may change from year to year. To stay informed, consult the current Michigan Fishing Guide, which is available online, in print, or as an app.

Michigan DNR conservation officers enforce fishing laws and regulations. They have the authority to check fishing licenses, inspect fishing gear, measure and count fish, and issue citations or warnings for violations. Remember, fishing violations may result in fines, penalties, restitution, license suspension, or criminal prosecution, depending on the severity and frequency of the offense.

By familiarizing yourself with Michigan’s fishing laws and regulations, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy your time on the water while also protecting the state’s valuable fish populations and their habitats.

Michigan Fishing Information & Resources

Fishing in Michigan can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also requires some planning and preparation, such as finding a suitable fishing spot, choosing the right fishing gear, and learning the best fishing techniques. Thankfully, there are many sources of information and resources that can help you enjoy freshwater fishing in Michigan. Let’s explore some of these resources:

  • Fishing reports: These provide the latest information on fishing conditions, fish activity, water levels, weather, and access points for various waters in Michigan. Keep an eye on fishing reports from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stay informed about your favorite fishing spots.
  • Fishing maps: These show the locations and boundaries of various waters in Michigan, as well as the fish species, access points, amenities, and regulations that apply to each water. You can find detailed fishing maps for the Great Lakes and other public waters on the DNR website.
  • Fishing guides: These offer expert advice and tips on fishing techniques, gear, bait, lures, and locations for various fish species and waters in Michigan. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, a fishing guide can be an invaluable resource to help you make the most of your fishing trips.
  • Fishing events: Michigan frequently hosts fishing events such as clinics, workshops, festivals, derbies, and tournaments. These provide opportunities for anglers to learn, practice, and enjoy fishing in a fun and social setting. Check the DNR website for a list of upcoming events in your area.
  • Fishing organizations: There are numerous fishing clubs, associations, councils, and conservation groups in Michigan that support and promote fishing. Joining one of these organizations can help you connect with like-minded anglers, stay informed about local fishing news, and take part in community-based fishing initiatives.

Make sure to purchase your Michigan fishing license before you hit the water, along with any necessary permits. Additionally, remember to report your catch and adhere to the regulations found in the Michigan Fishing Guide.

How to Get a Michigan Fishing License

Getting a Michigan fishing license is easy and convenient, as there are several methods and options available for anglers. The first step is to determine the type, duration, and age of the license that suits your needs and preferences, as well as your residency status.

The second step is to choose the method of purchase. You have the following options:


The fastest and easiest way to buy a fishing license. You can use the Michigan DNR eLicense website to select, pay, and print or download the license on any device with an internet connection.

In Person

Visit any of the over 1,700 license agents across the state, such as sporting goods stores, bait shops, or DNR customer service centers. Fill out an application and pay for the license with cash, check, or credit card.

By Phone

Call the toll-free number 1-844-345-3474 and follow the instructions to select, pay, and receive the license by mail or email.

The third step is to provide the required documents and information, which may include:

  • A valid Michigan driver’s license or state ID card, or a DNR sportcard for those who do not have one.
  • Proof of residency for those who want to buy a resident license, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, voter registration card, or property tax bill.
  • Proof of age for those who want to buy a senior or youth license, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, birth certificate, or passport.
  • A credit card number and expiration date for online or phone purchases.
  • An email address or mailing address for online or phone purchases.

The fourth step is to print, download, or receive the license and keep it with you at all times while fishing.

The fifth step is to enjoy fishing in Michigan and follow the fishing laws and regulations that apply to the license, species, and waters you are fishing in.

Michigan Fishing License FAQs

Can You Fish in Michigan Without a License?

For anyone who is 17 years of age or older, a fishing license is required to fish in the public waters of Michigan. However, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of. Free Fishing Weekends come in handy when you want to fish without a license. Michigan offers these weekends twice a year, usually in February and June. Minors, people under the age of 17, can fish without a license in Michigan. Just remember that you are still required to observe all fishing rules and regulations, so be sure to brush up on those beforehand.

What Age in Michigan Do You Need a Fishing License?

In Michigan, if you are 17 years of age or older, you need a fishing license to fish in public waters. As soon as you turn 17, you’ll need to purchase a fishing license, even if it’s mid-season. Michigan doesn’t offer any age-based discounts or exemptions for seniors when it comes to fishing licenses. However, there are some exemptions for specific groups of residents, like resident veterans, resident active-duty military, and resident Native Americans.

How Many Fishing Rods per Person in Michigan?

Michigan fishing regulations permit the use of up to three fishing rods per person. This means you can maximize your chances of catching fish by using multiple rods simultaneously. But, as is often the case, there are some exceptions and restrictions you need to be aware of, depending on the species, waters, and seasons you’re fishing in. In general, you can use up to three single lines or rods, and you can’t attach more than six hooks total on all lines. This is applicable to all public waters in Michigan. Keep in mind, however, that there might be some exceptions and restrictions, so it’s always a good idea to double-check with the local authorities before you start casting.

Who Is Exempt From a Fishing License in Michigan?

Fishing in Michigan is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the beautiful waterways the state has to offer. However, certain groups of people are exempt from fishing license requirements in Michigan. Michigan offers fishing license exemptions for seniors, legally blind residents, individuals under 17, veterans with a 100% disability rating, active-duty military personnel, and Native Americans. These exemptions help ensure that different groups can enjoy Michigan’s incredible fishing opportunities and foster a lasting connection with the natural world.