How to Get a Missouri Fishing License in 2024: The Ultimate Guide

As an avid angler, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of casting your line into the bountiful waters of Missouri. However, before you can embark on your fishing adventure, you’ll need to obtain a valid Missouri fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of getting your license, discuss who needs one, and share essential insights on the state’s fishing regulations. By the end of this article, you’ll be fully equipped to fish in Missouri’s waters with confidence and ease.

Why Getting a Missouri Fishing License is Crucial

A fishing license is more than just a legal requirement; it’s a vital contribution to the conservation and preservation of Missouri’s aquatic resources. The fees collected from license sales directly fund various initiatives, including:

  • Habitat restoration projects that enhance fish populations and improve water quality
  • Stocking programs that ensure a diverse array of fish species thrive in Missouri’s waters
  • Educational programs that promote responsible angling practices and environmental stewardship
  • Access improvements that create and maintain fishing spots for anglers to enjoy

By purchasing a license, you’re not only gaining access to incredible fishing opportunities but also investing in the future of the sport and the environment.

Who Needs a Missouri Fishing License?

Before we dive into the specifics of obtaining a license, let’s clarify who needs one:

  • Missouri residents between the ages of 16 and 64 must have a valid fishing license to fish in the state’s waters.
  • Non-residents aged 16 and older are required to possess a license when fishing in Missouri, regardless of their home state.

There are a few exceptions to these rules, including:

  • Missouri residents aged 65 and older are exempt from needing a fishing license but may need to purchase special permits for certain activities like trout fishing.
  • Landowners and their immediate family members can fish on their own property without a license, as long as they’re following all other fishing regulations.
  • Certain disabled veterans and active-duty military personnel may qualify for license exemptions or discounts.

Even if you fall under one of these exemptions, it’s essential to review the specific requirements and any additional permits you might need.

Types of Missouri Fishing Licenses

Missouri offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different angling preferences and durations:

  1. Daily Fishing Permit: This permit is perfect for short-term fishing trips or occasional anglers. It’s valid for 24 hours from the time of purchase and allows you to fish in all public waters in Missouri, except for designated trout areas.
  2. Annual Fishing Permit: If you plan on fishing regularly throughout the year, the annual permit is your best bet. It’s valid from the date of purchase through the last day of February of the following year, providing you with a full year of fishing opportunities.
  3. Trout Permit: Missouri is renowned for its excellent trout fishing, but you’ll need a trout permit in addition to your regular fishing license to fish in designated trout waters. This permit is required for all anglers, regardless of age or residency status.
  4. Lifetime Fishing Permit: For the dedicated angler, a lifetime permit offers unbeatable value and convenience. This one-time purchase grants you fishing privileges for life, eliminating the need to renew your license annually.

When deciding which license to purchase, consider factors like the duration of your fishing plans, the species you’re targeting, and your budget.

How to Obtain Your Missouri Fishing License

Now that you know what type of license you need, let’s explore the various ways to obtain one:

Online Purchase

The quickest and most convenient method is to buy your license online through the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) website. Simply visit, create an account, and follow the step-by-step instructions. You can print your license immediately or save a digital copy on your smartphone for easy access.

In-Person Purchase

If you prefer a more traditional approach, visit one of the numerous license vendors across the state, such as:

  • Sporting goods stores like Bass Pro Shops or Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • Bait and tackle shops in your local area
  • MDC regional offices located throughout Missouri

Use the MDC Permit Vendor Locator to find a convenient location near you.

By Phone

You can also purchase your fishing license by calling the MDC’s toll-free number at 1-800-392-4115. Have your credit card and personal information ready, and a friendly representative will guide you through the process.

Missouri Fishing License Costs

The cost of your fishing license depends on factors such as residency status, age, and the type of license you choose. As of 2024, the prices for the most common licenses are:

  • Daily Fishing Permit:
  • Resident: $8
  • Non-Resident: $8
  • Annual Fishing Permit:
  • Resident: $12
  • Non-Resident: $49
  • Trout Permit: $10 (in addition to the regular fishing license)

Keep in mind that prices are subject to change, so always check the official MDC website for the most up-to-date information.

Understanding Missouri Fishing Regulations

To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and sustainable fishing experience for everyone, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Missouri’s fishing regulations before casting your line. These rules cover essential aspects such as:

  • Seasons and Limits: Be aware of any seasonal closures and daily catch limits for specific species to help maintain healthy fish populations.
  • Size Restrictions: Some fish must meet minimum length requirements to be legally harvested, ensuring that fish have the opportunity to reproduce before being caught.
  • Approved Fishing Methods: Certain waters may have restrictions on the types of fishing gear or techniques allowed to promote fair and ethical angling practices.
  • Protected Species: Know which fish species are protected and must be released immediately if caught to help preserve vulnerable populations.

The MDC publishes an annual Missouri Fishing Regulations guide, which is available online and at license vendors. Take the time to review these guidelines and stay informed about any updates or changes.

Fishing Responsibly in Missouri

Obtaining your fishing license is just the first step in becoming a responsible angler. To help preserve Missouri’s aquatic resources for future generations, follow these best practices:

  • Practice Catch and Release: Consider releasing fish that you don’t plan to eat, especially larger, breeding-sized individuals. This helps maintain healthy fish populations and ensures that others can enjoy the thrill of catching these fish in the future.
  • Handle Fish with Care: When releasing a fish, minimize its time out of the water and handle it gently to reduce stress and injury. Wet your hands before touching the fish, and avoid squeezing it or touching its gills.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out any trash, fishing line, or other debris to keep our waterways clean and prevent harm to wildlife. Consider bringing a small trash bag or container with you to make it easier to dispose of waste responsibly.
  • Report Violations: If you witness any illegal fishing activities, such as poaching or fishing in restricted areas, report them to the MDC’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111. Your actions can help protect our natural resources and ensure that everyone can enjoy fishing in Missouri for years to come.

By being a responsible steward of Missouri’s fisheries, you’re not only enhancing your own angling experience but also helping to ensure the long-term health and vitality of these precious resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I fish in Missouri without a license?

No, unless you fall under one of the exemptions mentioned earlier, such as being a Missouri resident aged 65 or older or fishing on your own private property. In most cases, anglers aged 16 and above must have a valid fishing license to fish legally in Missouri.

Do I need a separate license for each type of fish I want to catch?

In general, your Missouri fishing license covers all species of fish, with the exception of trout. If you plan to fish in designated trout waters, you’ll need to purchase a separate trout permit in addition to your regular fishing license.

Can I purchase a fishing license for someone else?

Yes, you can buy a fishing license as a gift for someone else. You’ll need to provide their personal information, such as name, address, and date of birth, during the purchase process.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you purchased your license online, you can easily reprint it from the MDC website or save a digital copy on your smartphone. If you bought your license in person or by phone, contact the MDC for assistance in replacing your lost license.


Obtaining your Missouri fishing license is a simple yet essential step in embarking on an unforgettable angling adventure. By purchasing a license, you’re not only gaining access to some of the most diverse and productive fishing waters in the country but also contributing to the conservation efforts that keep these resources thriving.

Remember to review the fishing regulations, practice responsible angling techniques, and, most importantly, have fun out there! With your Missouri fishing license in hand, you’re ready to create lasting memories on the water while playing a vital role in preserving the state’s fishing heritage for generations to come.

So what are you waiting for? Get your license, grab your gear, and head out to experience the unparalleled beauty and excitement of fishing in Missouri!

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