The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Michigan Fishing License

Fishing in Michigan is something that all anglers should experience. With its 11,000 lakes, 3,000 rivers, and long coastlines, there are endless opportunities for a variety of different fishing experiences. 

But before you set off on your trip to the Great Lakes, there are a few requirements for obtaining a Michigan fishing license and ensuring good conservation efforts. 

This blog post will provide an overview of the fishing regulations and licensing process to help you get everything you need for your Michigan fishing experience.


Who Needs a Fishing License in Michigan?

In Michigan, fishing licenses are valid from April 1st each year through March 31st the following year. 

24-hour licenses can be purchased ahead of time and are valid for a set time period from purchase. Lifetime fishing licenses are not available in the state of Michigan at this time.

Proof of residency is required when buying a MI fishing license, such as an issued driver’s license or social security number. 

If you still need proof of residency, you can get DNR sportcard.

A Michigan DNR Sportcard is a form of ID issued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that validates a person’s identity and allows them to access certain benefits and privileges related to participating in activities like fishing, hunting, trapping, and boat registration. 

It is required for anyone aged 17 or older who wishes to participate in these activities, and it also helps ensure proper conservation and management of resources. 

What Age Do You Need a Fishing License in Michigan?

Michigan flag

All anglers aged 17 and over need a fishing license, and the license requirements for residents and non-residents differ. 

Resident

Residents exempt from needing a license include: 

• Children 16 and under in Michigan do not need a fishing license.

• Adults helping the child can assist with set up, baiting and casting without a license but must have their own if engaging in any other activities.

• Active duty military personnel can fish without a license upon proof of status.

• Resident veterans with disabilities, non-resident military stationed in Michigan, and registered blind residents are eligible for discounted fishing licenses.

Non-resident

People from out of state can also obtain a Michigan non-resident fishing license, although additional paperwork may be required.

Reciprocal Fishing Licenses

Fishing across state lines in Michigan is possible thanks to agreements with surrounding states. 

Residents of both Michigan and Indiana can fish in each other’s interstate waters with just one license. 

Similarly, if you fish any of the intrastate waters between Wisconsin and Michigan, including parts of Lake Michigan or Lake Superior, your fishing license will be valid in both states.

However, if you catch a Sturgeon or Musky, you must adhere to each state’s regulations. Anyone with a Wisconsin license in Michigan must report their catch to county authorities within the state. 

For those from neither Michigan nor Wisconsin, you’ll need to purchase a Sturgeon tag before fishing – $20 for residents of either state and $50 for non-residents.

How to Buy a Michigan Fishing License?

The Michigan department of natural resources offers two ways to purchase fishing or combination licenses, online or in person from a local retailer. 

Online

Anglers who want to buy their fishing license online can go to Michigan.gov to get their license that way.

Local Retailers

Anglers can also purchase Michigan fishing licenses in person. Official stores, bait and tackle stores, Walmart all sell licenses.

When you apply for a license, make sure you provide some form of proof of residency and bring along your ID and fishing license when you go out.

How Much is a Michigan Fishing License

lake in Michigan

All of Michigan’s fishing license fees generate revenue which is invested back into the state’s waterways in several ways, such as continuing to provide access to its lakes and rivers and improving fish habitats and health by stocking surrounding lakes like Lake Erie

The DNR Fisheries Division relies heavily on anglers’ funds – from license sales and federal excise tax dollars – to manage state fisheries.

Michigan DNR Fishing License
Annual Resident License$26
Annual Non-Resident License$68
Senior Annual (for residents age 65 or older) $11
24 Hour Day License (resident or non-resident) $10
72 Hour (resident or non-resident) $30
Resident Hunting and Fishing Combo License$76
Non-resident Hunt/Fish combo license$266
Senior Non-resident Fishing/ Hunting license combo$43

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a fishing license for catch and release in Michigan?

You do need a fishing license for catch and release in Michigan if you are over 17. 

The only people who are exempt from needing a license are residents of Michigan who are the following (unless it is during a free fishing day):

– Children 16 and under.
– Adults helping the child with set up, baiting, and casting do not need a license but must have their own if engaging in other activities.
– Active duty military personnel can fish without a license upon proof of status.
– Resident veterans with disabilities, non-resident military stationed in Michigan, and registered blind residents are eligible for discounted fishing licenses.

What license do I need to fish in Michigan?

What license you need to fish in Michigan is dependent on your age and how long you plan to fish in the state. 

The most popular license is the annual fishing license which allows you to fish in Michigan from April 1st until March 31st the following year. 

What happens if you fish without a license in Michigan?

What happens if you fish without a license in Michigan can result in a misdemeanor charge from law enforcement according to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

This is punishable by up to 90 days of imprisonment and a fine between $25 and $250.

Final Thoughts

Getting a fishing license in Michigan is essential for several reasons. First, it’s the law, and following the law helps the Michigan wildlife council protect the state’s waterways so everyone can enjoy them. 

It also allows everyone to have access to the same resources and opportunities, ensuring fairness in fishing and protecting wildlife. Finally, it helps ensure that bass fishing remains enjoyable and accessible in your state.

Once you’ve purchased your Michigan fishing license, be sure to download our bass fishing lures cheat sheet so you always know the best lure to throw, and when to throw it.