Michigan Fishing License

John Lewis

Michigan Fishing License 2024:  Ultimate Guide Buying MI DNR Non Resident & Resident Permits!

michigan dnr fishing license, Michigan Fishing License

The Great Lakes State of Michigan has several pristine lakes, rivers, and streams brimming with various fish species. In this page, we’ll examine more closely why a fishing license is required, how to get one, and the advantages it offers to fishermen and the protection of Michigan’s stunning aquatic ecosystems. Join us as we travel around Michigan’s rivers, learning about the delights of fishing while preserving and protecting the environment.

Michigan Fishing License Cost

Michigan Fishing LicensesResident FeesNonresident Fees
DNR Sportcard$1 N/A
Resident Annual$26*$76*
Senior Annual (Residents 65 or older or Residents who are legally blind)$11*N/A
Daily Fish (24 hours Validity)$10/day$10/day
Voluntary Youth (Age 16 and under)$2*$2*
Combo Hunt/Fish Resident (Base, Annual Fishing, 2 Deer)$76*N/A
Combo Hunt/Fish Senior Resident (Base, Annual Fishing, 2 Deer)$43*N/A
Combo Hunt/Fish Nonresident (Base, Annual Fishing, 2 Deer)N/A$266*
Canada Outdoor Card (Fishing licenses must be accompanied with outdoor cards.)$8.57
Canada Fishing License$83.19
Ohio Fishing License (Non-residents)$50.96
Indiana Fishing License (Non-residents)$60

Combination licenses, resident yearly licenses, nonresident annual licenses, and senior annual permits all come with a $1 extra in Michigan. Further recognizing their service and commitment, full-time, federally employed members of the U.S. military who have retained residence status are eligible for a remission of license costs. This exemption promotes the value of outdoor recreation and environmental care in Michigan while acknowledging and supporting the sacrifices of military members.

Michigan fishing license for seniors

MI Senior License All-SpeciesCost
Resident Senior Annual$11
Resident Senior Daily$3
Nonresident Senior$38
Nonresident Senior Daily$10

How to buy a Michigan fishing license?

1. Online: 

Accessing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website is the simplest method. You may purchase your license online and do other chores, including duplicating a lost license. To buy a license online easily, go to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.

2. State License Agents: 

Michigan provides a list of authorized agents where you may get your fishing license. Visit the License Agents website on Michigan.gov to locate the closest agent and gather the essential information.

3. Department of Natural Resources Customer Service Centers: 

Instead of doing your business in person, you may purchase your license at a DNR Customer Service Center close to you. For the locations of these centres, contact the Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan fishing license exemptions

Veterans & Disability

Fishing License WaiversFees
Veterans with 100% Disability (Michigan Residents)Waived
Active-duty Military (Michigan Residents)Waived

Exemptions for Assisting Minors

Exemptions for Assisting MinorsDetails
Help land a fish with a net or their handsA license is not required if an adult helps a minor use a net or their hands to land a fish.
Help unhook a fishIt is not necessary for the adult to obtain a fishing license in order to help a child unhook a fish.
Set up the fishing rod with gearWithout a fishing license, an adult may assist a minor by putting up the fishing rod and equipment.
Bait the hookIt is not necessary for the adult to obtain a fishing license in order to help a child bait the hook.
Cast the line for young anglersThe parent may throw the line for the child angler without obtaining a fishing license as long as the child continues to actively participate.

License Requirements & Options

Fishing License RequirementsDetails
Michigan fishing license age requirementYou need a fishing license to go fishing if you're 17 or older.
Carrying License and IDIt is mandatory  that you always have your fishing license with you as well as the form of identification you used to buy it.
Targeting Amphibians, Crustaceans, and ReptilesWhen pursuing these species in Michigan's public waterways, a fishing license is necessary.
Minors (Under 17)Minors must abide by all fishing laws and regulations even if they are not required to get a fishing license.
Assisting MinorsThe adult must possess a fishing license if they are assisting a child without a license.
Exemptions for Assisting MinorsA license is not necessary for some actions when an adult is helping a child

Document Requirements

Documents Requirements
Presently valid Michigan driver's license or Michigan identification card
An active license for driving from the state where you now live
DNR Sport card

License Eligibility

Criteria forQualification
ResidentMust live in a fixed or permanent residence or domicile in this state with the intention of staying.
StudentMust be a Michigan resident and full-time college student.
U.S. MilitaryMust be a full-time military member stationed in Michigan or a Michigan resident.

Free Fishing Days in Michigan

Free Fishing WeekendsStart DateEnd DateFees
Winter Weekend18-Feb19-FebWaived
Summer Weekend10-Jun11-JunWaived

Those who don’t fish often but want to try it out may do so for free during the two free fishing weekends the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) promotes. While the summer weekend takes place on June 10 and 11, the winter weekend is on February 18 and 19. Fees are not charged on certain specified weekends, allowing people to cross fishing off their bucket list without paying anything.

Michigan fishing lakes

MI Fishing Lakes
Lake Huron
Lake Michigan
Lake Superior
Southeast Michigan Great Lakes
Lake Michigan
Lake Superior
Southeast Michigan Great Lakes Fishing


MI Fishing SpeciesStart DateEnd DateNote
Largemouth & Smallmouth BassOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire YearAll waterways are catch-and-release only, with the exceptions stated.
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass27-May31-DecThe Great Lakes are included in the possession season, unless otherwise specified.
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass17-Jun31-DecPossession season is in effect on the St. Clair, Clair, and Detroit rivers.
MuskellungeOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire YearAll waterways must have a catch-and-release policy.
Muskellunge3-Jun15-MarAll Great Lakes, interior waterways, and the St. Marys River are in possession season, unless otherwise specified.
Muskellunge3-Jun31-DecPossession season is in effect on the St. Clair, Clair, and Detroit rivers.
Northern Pike & WalleyeOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire YearPossession season is in effect on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit and St. Clair rivers.
Northern Pike & Walleye29-Apr15-MarLower Peninsula inland waterways have a possession season.
Northern Pike & Walleye15-May15-MarPossession season in the Great Lakes, inland waterways, and St. Marys River in the Upper Peninsula
Salmon & TroutOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire YearLake St. Clair, the St. Marys River, the St. Clair & Detroit rivers, and the Great Lakes
Salmon & TroutOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire Year(Inland) streams of types 3 and 4 and lakes of types B, C, E, and F
Salmon & Trout29-Apr30-SepInland streams of Types 1 and 2: Possession and Fishing Season
Salmon & Trout29-Apr31-OctType A and Type D lakes: possession and inland fishing season
Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Cisco, Lake Whitefish, Round Whitefish, Smelt, Sunfishes, White Bass, Yellow Perch & Other SpeciesOpen for Entire YearOpen for Entire Yearall waterways are available for fishing

Violations, Fines & Penalties

Violations (Fish)SectionRevocation of License / PermitFinesImprisonment
1st Offense41105OptionalUp to $100 (1st offense)Up to 60 days (1st offense)
2nd or Subsequent Offense41105Optional$50 - $25020-90 days
1st Offense48702aRequired$500 - $1,000 (plus costs of prosecution)Up to 93 days, and could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both
2nd or Subsequent Offense48702aRequired$1,000 - $2,500 (plus costs of prosecution)Up to 1 year and could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both

Eat Safe Fish Guides for eating locally caught fish

Event: Eat Safe Fish Guides for eating locally caught fish in 2023
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updates its Eat Safe Fish Guides for eating locally caught fish in 2023. These standards are based on MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories chemical analysis of fish filets. Mercury, PCBs, PFOS, and PFAS are prevalent in fish, hence particular Michigan water bodies have special fish recommendations. MDHHS educates Michigan residents on safe lake and river fish eating.
Key Points:
- Chemicals like mercury and PCBs are commonly found in fish, along with PFOS and PFAS in some cases, necessitating Eat Safe Fish Guidelines.
- The 2023 guidelines include new recommendations for locally caught smelt, particularly due to elevated PFOS levels.
Smelt Guidelines:
- Lake Huron: 6 servings per year.
- Lake Michigan: 1 serving per month.
- Portage Lake in Houghton County: 1 serving per month.
- Gull Lake in Kalamazoo County: 2 servings per month.
- Higgins Lake in Roscommon County: 4 servings per month.
- Lake Superior (previously issued in May 2022): 1 serving per month.
- Some parts of the Huron River remain on the 'Do Not Eat' fish alert owing to high PFOS levels.
- The MDHHS Eat Safe Fish guidelines are informative resources and not legally binding regulations.
- MDHHS also provides the Buy Safe Fish Guide to assist in selecting low-mercury seafood from local sources.
For More Information:
- Visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish for region-specific guides and Buy Safe Fish Guide.
- Contact the MDHHS Division of Environmental Health at 800-648-6942.

Regulations in Michigan

Full-time, federal, active-duty U.S. military residents get free fishing licenses. Military ID and duty status are required. Michigan-stationed active-duty military members pay resident rates. Michigan veterans who are completely incapacitated or unemployed may get free licenses. Blind seniors get fishing licenses. Developmentally disabled or older people may fish without a license if accompanied by licensed fishermen. DNR Customer Service Centers sell exemption permits. 

  • Michigan’s interior waterways are everything except the Great Lakes, bays, and connecting waters. This includes the portion of the St. Marys River in the state that connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River (between the Fort Gratiot Light and the imaginary line extending south of the Windmill Point Light in Wayne County, up to the east-west line through Celeron Island). Lakes, streams, and Great Lakes tributaries are inland waterways.
  • Species spawning limitations in Michigan limit fishing. These closures protect spawning fish. Closures vary by jurisdiction. Fishing is not allowed in impacted lakes and streams. These limits protect fish during reproduction.
  • Michigan allows artificial light fishing except for spearing frogs. Lampreys, live carp, goldfish, and gobies are illegal bait. Traps, nets, hook-and-line, and hand-harvesting are unrestricted. Inland lakes, drowned river mouths, the Great Lakes, and their connecting waterways allow drop-shotting, and dip nets may be used in non-trout stream waters for some species. Except in trout streams, gaffs may legally land hooked fish. Hand-net fishing is allowed. Participants are allowed three lines and three hooks for hook-and-line fishing. Burbot sometimes uses hoop nets. Personal use minnows must be utilized in their collection waters. Several species allow hand, rubber, or spring-propelled spearing.
  • Michigan has unlawful acts. It is illegal to chum with organic material in all stream types, to possess or transport live transgenic organisms or non-native fish, crayfish, or freshwater molluscs, to use red swamp crayfish as bait, to import or transplant live fish without a permit, to buy or sell fish or parts of fish taken under a sport fishing license, to take fish solely for egg removal, to harvest threatened or endangered species without authorization, to harvest or possess fr These laws carry a $10,000 fine.
  • Each species has its size and daily possession limits. Fisheries and species dictate possession seasons. Five 14-inch largemouth and smallmouth bass each day are allowed. Five 15-inch walleye are permitted. Two 24-inch northern pikes are allowed per person. Channel and flathead catfish must be 12 or 15 inches long. Muskellunge, including tiger muskellunge, must be 42 inches and may only be caught once every license year. Limit 25 yellow perch. Sunfish and white bass have a possession restriction of 25 in any combination of specified species on designated waterways and 10 in inland waters. In certain rivers, Cisco, lake whitefish, and round whitefish have a 10-fish or 5-fish limit. Smelt are allowed two gallons and no size limitations. Other species may be fished year-round regardless of size or ownership. The Michigan-Wisconsin Boundary Waters, Sylvania Wilderness Area, Exceptions to General Rules by County, and Inland Trout & Salmon Regulations govern lake sturgeon fishing.

Note: The Michigan regulations website discusses all the rules thoroughly; you may check it out for additional information.

John Lewis
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