How Much Does a Fishing License Cost in Michigan?

Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a visitor seeking to experience the thrill of Michigan’s world-class fishing, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the licensing process seamlessly. We’ll cover everything from the fees associated with different license types to the regulations governing specific bodies of water. By the end, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your next angling adventure while ensuring compliance with the state’s laws and contributing to the preservation of Michigan’s aquatic resources.

License Types and Fees

Michigan offers a variety of fishing license options to cater to the diverse needs of anglers. Let’s explore the different types of licenses and their associated fees for the 2023 season.

Resident Licenses

  • Annual Licenses: For Michigan residents who plan to fish regularly throughout the year, the annual fishing license is the most cost-effective option at $26. This license is valid from March 1st to March 31st of the following year.
  • Short-term Licenses: If you’re a resident looking for a shorter fishing experience, Michigan offers:
  • 24-hour ($10)
  • 72-hour ($30)
  • 7-day ($35) licenses
  • Senior and Youth Licenses:
  • Residents aged 65 and older, as well as legally blind residents, can purchase an annual senior fishing license for just $11.
  • A voluntary youth fishing license is available for $2 for anglers under the age of 17.

Non-Resident Licenses

  • Annual Licenses: For those visiting Michigan from out of state, an annual non-resident fishing license costs $76 and is valid for the same period as the resident annual license.
  • Short-term Licenses: Non-residents can also opt for shorter-term licenses, including:
  • 24-hour ($10)
  • 72-hour ($35)
  • 7-day ($42) options

Combination Licenses

For outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy both fishing and hunting, Michigan offers combination licenses that provide a cost-effective solution. The Hunt/Fish Combo license, which includes an annual fishing license and a base license for hunting, costs $76 for residents and $265 for non-residents.

Additional Permits and Tags

Depending on the species you plan to target and the specific body of water you’ll be fishing in, you may need to purchase additional permits or tags. For example:

  • A sturgeon tag ($8 for residents, $24 for non-residents) is required to fish for lake sturgeon in designated waters.
  • A muskellunge stamp ($7 for residents, $21 for non-residents) is necessary for targeting muskellunge in certain areas.

It’s essential to carefully review the Michigan Fishing Guide and regulations to ensure you have the appropriate licenses and permits for your intended fishing activities.

Purchasing Your Michigan Fishing License

Obtaining a Michigan fishing license is a straightforward process, with multiple options available to suit your preferences.

Online Purchasing

The Michigan DNR offers a convenient online platform for purchasing fishing licenses. Simply create an account (or log in if you already have one), and follow the prompts to select the appropriate license type and complete the transaction. Online purchases can be made using a credit or debit card, and your license will be immediately available for printing or storing on your mobile device.

In-Person Purchasing Options

If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can purchase your Michigan fishing license in person at various authorized retailers throughout the state, including:

  • DNR Customer Service Centers
  • Select sporting goods stores
  • Bait and tackle shops
  • Some township and county clerk offices

Required Documentation and Identification

When purchasing a fishing license, you’ll need to provide valid identification and proof of residency (if applicable). Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or other government-issued identification with your name and date of birth.

Automatic License Renewal

For added convenience, the Michigan DNR offers an automatic license renewal option. By selecting this feature during your online purchase or at a retail location, your fishing license will be automatically renewed each year, ensuring you never miss a beat when it comes to staying compliant with state regulations.

Fishing Regulations and Seasons

While obtaining a fishing license is a crucial first step, it’s equally important to familiarize yourself with Michigan’s fishing regulations and seasons. These guidelines are in place to promote sustainable fishing practices and ensure the long-term health of the state’s aquatic ecosystems.

Open Seasons for Popular Fish Species

Michigan’s fishing seasons vary depending on the species you’re targeting. For example, the open season for trout and salmon typically runs from the last Saturday in April through September 30th, while walleye and bass seasons have different opening and closing dates. It’s essential to consult the Michigan Fishing Guide or the DNR website for specific season dates and regulations.

Catch Limits and Size Restrictions

To maintain healthy fish populations, Michigan imposes catch limits and size restrictions on various species. For instance, anglers may only keep a certain number of walleye or trout per day, and fish below or above certain size limits must be released. These regulations are designed to protect breeding stock and ensure sustainable fishing opportunities for future generations.

Prohibited Activities and Methods

Michigan has strict rules regarding prohibited fishing activities and methods. These may include restrictions on the use of certain types of bait or lures, as well as limitations on the number of lines or hooks that can be used simultaneously. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these regulations to avoid potential fines or penalties.

Reporting Requirements

In some cases, anglers may be required to report their catch or harvest to the DNR. This is particularly true for species like lake sturgeon, where harvest registration is mandatory. Failure to comply with reporting requirements can result in penalties and may jeopardize future fishing opportunities.

By staying informed and adhering to Michigan’s fishing regulations and seasons, you not only ensure a legal and ethical fishing experience but also contribute to the long-term sustainability of the state’s aquatic resources.

Exceptions and Special Provisions

While Michigan’s fishing license requirements are comprehensive, there are a few exceptions and special provisions to be aware of.

Military Personnel and Disabled Veterans

Active-duty military personnel and 100% disabled veterans who are Michigan residents are exempt from paying fishing license fees, provided they can present valid proof of their status. This exemption is a small token of appreciation for their service and sacrifices.

Free Fishing Weekends

To promote and encourage participation in the sport of fishing, Michigan offers two annual Free Fishing Weekends. During these designated weekends, residents and non-residents alike can enjoy fishing on all inland waters without the need for a license. However, all other fishing regulations still apply, and licenses are required for fishing in the Great Lakes or designated trout streams.

Assisting Minors Without a License

Michigan recognizes the importance of introducing young people to the joys of fishing. As such, adults are permitted to assist minors (under the age of 17) in fishing without the need for a separate license, provided the adult is actively engaged in the process and not fishing themselves.

These exceptions and special provisions demonstrate Michigan’s commitment to promoting accessibility and fostering a love for fishing among all segments of the population.

Conservation Efforts and License Revenue

Beyond simply granting legal access to Michigan’s waters, fishing licenses play a vital role in supporting the state’s conservation efforts and ensuring the long-term sustainability of its aquatic resources.

Importance of License Fees for Resource Management

The revenue generated from fishing license sales is a crucial source of funding for the Michigan DNR’s resource management programs. These funds are reinvested into various initiatives aimed at preserving and enhancing the state’s fisheries and aquatic habitats.

Funding for Hatcheries, Habitat Restoration, and Research

A significant portion of license revenue is allocated to the operation of state-run fish hatcheries, which produce millions of fish each year for stocking in public waters. Additionally, these funds support habitat restoration projects, such as stream bank stabilization, wetland preservation, and the removal of barriers to fish migration. Furthermore, license fees contribute to ongoing research efforts aimed at understanding and managing fish populations, monitoring water quality, and developing sustainable fishing practices.

Sustainable Fishing Practices

By adhering to the regulations and guidelines set forth by the Michigan DNR, anglers play a crucial role in promoting sustainable fishing practices. These practices help ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the rich fishing heritage and abundant resources that Michigan has to offer. Responsible anglers practice catch-and-release techniques, respect size and bag limits, and avoid damaging sensitive habitats. By working together and supporting the conservation efforts funded by license fees, we can preserve Michigan’s aquatic ecosystems for years to come.


Michigan’s diverse and abundant fishing opportunities are a true treasure, attracting anglers from near and far. By understanding the state’s fishing license requirements, regulations, and the vital role these licenses play in supporting conservation efforts, you can embark on your angling adventures with confidence and a sense of responsibility.

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored the various license types and fees, the process of obtaining a license, and the importance of adhering to fishing regulations and seasons. We’ve also delved into the exceptions and special provisions, as well as the crucial role that license revenue plays in funding hatcheries, habitat restoration, and research initiatives.

As you plan your next fishing trip in Michigan, remember to purchase the appropriate license, familiarize yourself with the regulations, and embrace the spirit of conservation. By doing so, you’ll not only ensure a memorable and rewarding experience but also contribute to the preservation of Michigan’s invaluable aquatic resources for generations to come.

Do I need a separate license for each body of water I plan to fish?

No, a single Michigan fishing license grants you access to all inland waters and Great Lakes waters within the state’s boundaries, with the exception of designated trout streams, which may require an additional stamp or endorsement.

Can I use my Michigan fishing license in other states? 

No, your Michigan fishing license is only valid within the state’s borders. If you plan to fish in other states, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate licenses and permits for those specific locations.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you lose your Michigan fishing license, you can obtain a replacement by visiting a DNR Customer Service Center or authorized retailer. You’ll need to provide proof of your original license purchase and pay a small replacement fee.

Are there any discounts or special rates for families or groups?

While Michigan does not offer specific family or group discounts on fishing licenses, the combination licenses (such as the Hunt/Fish Combo) can provide cost savings for those who engage in multiple outdoor activities.

Can I use my fishing license for commercial fishing purposes?

No, the fishing licenses discussed in this guide are strictly for recreational purposes. Commercial fishing in Michigan requires separate permits and licenses, which are subject to different regulations and fees.

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