Michigan Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations


Michigan Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations

There are over 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, and when those lakes run into open waters, the term \»fished\» should include the additional \»and don\’t know when to return\» clause. Michigan\’s waters are some of the best in the world for freshwater fishing. The Great Lakes have some of the best salmon catches. The Au Sable River is perfect for fly fishing for trout. The inland lakes and estuaries teem with different types of perch, pikeperch, sunfish, perch, crappie, carp, pike, catfish and more.

All fishing license fees will be waived for two days during Free Fishing Weekend. However, a Michigan fishing license purchase will be required after this event. This can be purchased from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website or from any legitimate fishing license seller such as an outdoor sporting goods retailer or fishing store in the area.

Michigan Fishing Licenses

Michigan\’s fishing rules and regulations were formulated and strictly enforced to protect and increase healthy fish populations. These regulations can be changed from time to time to adapt them to current fishing conditions. Therefore, it is important for an angler to read the latest fishing rules and regulations for any fishing trip.

Preserving fish stocks and Michigan\’s many waterways is a priority. Everyone is very encouraged to join this movement. One way an angler can help is to make sure that their catch and release technique is correct. This will ensure that any fish caught and released will thrive again in the water. The use of release tools such as dehookers, rubberized mesh nets and the like helps to reduce the stress on the caught fish.

When it comes to fishing, Michigan has a lot to offer. With more than 11,000 inland lakes and a long coastline, the state is home to some of the most sought-after fish and marine species. The Great Lakes have some of the best salmon catches, and the Au Sable River is perfect for fly fishing for trout. There is more to Michigan than these delights and it can only be experienced if you choose to see it for yourself.

Before doing that, however, you need to understand what requirements to ensure while fishing in the waters of Michigan. As in many other US states, Michigan requires every angler (depending on their eligibility) to have a fishing license before they can fish in its waters. These licenses are available for purchase throughout the state, and fees vary based on qualifications and status. If you still don\’t know what type of license to buy for your next Michigan fishing trip, or you don\’t know where to buy one, this article will tell you everything you need to know about Michigan fishing licenses and other fishing regulations.

Who Must Have a Michigan Fishing License?

All anglers 17 years of age or older must obtain a Michigan fishing license prior to fishing in any fishing location within the state. Anglers younger than 17 are not required to purchase a fishing license, but are subject to the same fishing rules and regulations as adult anglers. Please note that adults helping a minor without a license must also have a fishing license. However, an unlicensed adult helping a minor may:

  • Help land a fish with a net or your hands
  • Help unhook a fish
  • Set up the fishing rod with the appropriate equipment
  • Bait the hook
  • Fix tangles or hooks
  • Cast the line for young anglers; However, it should be emphasized that the young angler must be an active participant while the adult is only assisting

The various Michigan fishing licenses are required when catching fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and reptiles in the water. When fishing, you must have your license with you and the ID used to purchase your license and at the request of a Michigan Conservation Officer, Tribal Conservation Officer, or law enforcement officer. In the absence of a paper license, a digital version of the license can be presented at the request of the responsible officials.

How do I buy a Michigan fishing license?

There are several ways to get a Michigan fishing license. The first option is to buy online. You can visit or follow the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website shortcut to conveniently buy your fishing license.

You can also choose to purchase one in person through the Department of Natural Resources offices and DNR licensing agents across the state. To find the closest DNR license agent near you, you can check this out comprehensive map for reference. You can also purchase one from the DNR Customer Service Center. 

Different types of licenses in Michigan

Residents and non-residents over the age of 17 must obtain a Michigan fishing license. The license costs also vary depending on the type of license, the period of validity and the residence status of the licensee. Here is a summary of the various fishing licenses you can get in the state of Michigan:

License typefee
DNR sports card$ 1.00
Fishing licenses for all species
Residents annually$ 26.00
Non-resident year$ 76.00
Senior Annual (residents 65 or older or residents who are legally blind)$ 11.00
24 hours (residents or non-residents)$ 10.00
72 hours (resident or non-resident)$ 13.00
Combined hunting / fishing licenses (basic, annual fishing, 2 deer)
Hunting / fish dwellers$ 76.00
Hunting / Fish Senior Resident$ 43.00
Hunting / fish non-residents$ 266.00

If you are a resident or non-resident angler looking to fish in Michigan waters

If you are a resident or non-resident angler looking to fish in Michigan waters and are over the age of 17, you can purchase an annual fishing license for just $ 26.00 (residents) and $ 76.00 (nonresidents). . Seniors, including those 65 years of age and older, as well as the blind, can avail of the annual fishing license at a discounted price of $ 11.00.

If you don\’t want to fish in Michigan waters for more than a few days, you have the option to purchase a 24-hour or 72-hour license instead. These licenses are available to both residents and non-residents. The 24-hour license can be purchased for both residents and non-residents for $ 10.00, while the 72-hour license for residents and non-residents can be purchased for $ 30.00.

Combination licenses are also available that grant a license to fish and hunt in the state of Michigan. A resident pays $ 76.00 for an annual combo hunting / fishing license while a non-resident pays $ 266.00 for that license. Please note that senior citizens aged 65 and over and persons who are legally blind can purchase a combo license at a reduced price of $ 43.00.

Residence requirements

As mentioned above, when purchasing an annual fishing license, a resident angler can benefit from a lower price compared to a non-resident angler. To qualify as a resident, you must:

  • a person who has permanent or permanent residence or domicile within the boundaries of that state with the intention of staying in that state, or
  • a full-time student at a college or university in Michigan and residing in Michigan, or
  • a member who serves full-time in the U.S. military and is either officially stationed in Michigan or retiring from Michigan.

Please note that owning any land or real estate in Michigan does not qualify you as a resident. When purchasing your resident license, you will need to provide the following requirements:

  • A valid Michigan driver\’s license; or
  • Valid Michigan ID (issued by the Secretary of State); or
  • A DNR Sportcard (issued by licensed dealers). If the Information on your DNR Sportcard from a previous year is still correct, you can continue to use it. NOTE: When purchasing a DNR Sportcard, you will be asked to confirm your place of residence with two proofs of residence.

Daily fishing and other fishing regulations in Michigan

To maintain sustainable fish populations in all fishing grounds throughout the state of Michigan, the following fisheries rules must be followed:

speciesMinimum size (inches)Daily ownership limitPossession seasons
Largemouth bass Largemouth bass14 \»5June 3 – December 31: L. St. Clair, St. Clair R., Detroit R.

Sat before Memorial Day – December 31: All other bodies of water including the Great Lakes

Pikeperchfifteen\»5May 15 – March 15: Upper Peninsula Great Lakes and Inland Waters, and St. Marys R. Last Sat. in April – March 15: Inland waters of the Lower Peninsula Open all year round: Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, L. St. Clair, St Clair R. and Detroit R.
Northern pike24 \»2
Flat head catfishfifteen\»5Open all year
Channel catfish12 \»10
Muscle lung (including tiger muscle lung)42 \»Only 1 per angler per license yearJune 1st – March 15th: All Great Lakes and Inland Waters and St. Marys R.

1st Sat. in June – December 31st: L. St. Clair, St. Clair R. and Detroit R.

Yellow perchNo size limit25thOpen all year
Sunfish25 in any combination of the listed types
White bass25 to size. Lakes, L. St. Clair, St. Marys R., St. Clair R., and Detroit R. 10 on inland waters
Lake Whitefish Cisco (Lake Herring)12 in any combination
StintNo size limit2 gallonsOpen all year
All otherNo size limitNo ownership limitOpen all year

For more information, please consult the DNR fishing guide.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Are non-resident military personnel eligible for special fares?

Non-resident, active military personnel officially stationed in Michigan qualify for Michigan residents tariffs.

Q: What is the validity date of annual licenses?

An annual license is valid all year round from the date of purchase until March 31 of the next year. The best time to get a license and maximize its validity is March 1st.

Q: Do I need a permit to catch it?

Please note that an ID card and a safety shield are NO LONGER REQUIRED. However, you must register your sturgeon harvest within 24 hours.