Your Ultimate Guide to Minnesota’s Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

Are you a non-resident angler looking to fish in the beautiful waters of Minnesota? Obtaining the proper fishing license is essential to ensure you’re following regulations and supporting conservation efforts. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about getting a Minnesota non-resident fishing license, highlight top fishing destinations, and provide helpful tips to make the most of your fishing experience.

Understanding Minnesota’s Non-Resident Fishing License Requirements

Before you pack your tackle box and head to Minnesota, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements. All non-residents aged 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license to fish in Minnesota’s waters. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers several types of non-resident fishing licenses to cater to different needs and durations:

  1. Annual License: Valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, this license is perfect for those planning multiple fishing trips to Minnesota throughout the year.
  2. 72-Hour License: If you’re visiting for a short fishing getaway, the 72-hour license is a convenient option, allowing you to fish for three consecutive days.
  3. 7-Day License: For those planning a week-long fishing vacation, the 7-day license grants you the freedom to fish for seven consecutive days.
  4. 24-Hour License: Ideal for spontaneous day trips or last-minute fishing excursions, the 24-hour license allows you to fish for a full day.

Non-resident fishing license fees vary depending on the type of license and the applicant’s age. As of 2023, the annual license fee for non-residents 16 and older is $52, while the 72-hour license costs $38, the 7-day license is $43, and the 24-hour license is $14. It’s important to note that these fees directly support conservation efforts, fish stocking programs, and the maintenance of Minnesota’s fishing infrastructure.

Purchasing a non-resident fishing license is a simple process. You can buy your license online through the Minnesota DNR website, at various license agents across the state, or by phone at 1-888-665-4236. When purchasing online or by phone, you’ll receive a temporary license number that allows you to start fishing immediately, while your physical license will be mailed to you.

Top Fishing Destinations in Minnesota for Non-Resident Anglers

With over 11,800 lakes and 69,000 miles of rivers and streams, Minnesota offers an abundance of fishing opportunities for non-resident anglers. From the iconic walleye to the feisty bass and the elusive muskie, the state’s waters are home to a wide array of fish species. Let’s explore some of the top fishing destinations that should be on every non-resident angler’s bucket list:

Best State Parks for Fishing

  1. Bear Head Lake State Park: Nestled in the heart of the Superior National Forest, Bear Head Lake State Park is a hidden gem for anglers seeking solitude and excellent fishing. The park’s namesake lake is known for its healthy populations of walleye, northern pike, and bass.
  2. Beaver Creek Valley State Park: Situated in the scenic bluffs of southeastern Minnesota, Beaver Creek Valley State Park offers a unique fishing experience in a picturesque setting. The park’s streams are home to brown and brook trout, providing exciting opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts.
  3. Glendalough State Park: Surrounding the pristine Annie Battle Lake, Glendalough State Park is a haven for anglers targeting panfish, bass, and walleye. The park’s tranquil atmosphere and stunning natural beauty make it a perfect destination for a fishing retreat.
  4. Zippel Bay State Park: Located on the shores of Lake of the Woods, Zippel Bay State Park is a premier destination for walleye and northern pike fishing. The park’s expansive beach and protected bay provide excellent shore fishing opportunities, while boat rentals are available for those looking to explore deeper waters.

Minnesota’s extensive network of water trails offers exceptional fishing opportunities for non-resident anglers who prefer a more adventurous and immersive experience. Some notable water trails include:

  1. Big Fork River: Flowing through the pristine forests of northern Minnesota, the Big Fork River is a top destination for smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing. The river’s remote setting and scenic beauty make it a favorite among paddling enthusiasts.
  2. Blue Earth River: Winding through southern Minnesota, the Blue Earth River is known for its excellent catfish and walleye fishing. The river’s gentle current and accessible shore fishing spots make it a great option for anglers of all skill levels.
  3. Cedar River: Located in southern Minnesota, the Cedar River is a hidden treasure for anglers seeking trophy smallmouth bass and northern pike. The river’s clear waters and abundant structure provide ideal habitat for these hard-fighting fish.
  4. Red River of the North: Forming the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, the Red River of the North is a world-renowned destination for trophy channel catfish. The river’s slow-moving waters and abundant forage make it a catfish angler’s paradise.
  5. Root River: Flowing through the picturesque bluffs of southeastern Minnesota, the Root River is a premier destination for trout fishing. The river’s cold, spring-fed waters support healthy populations of brown and rainbow trout, offering exciting opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts.
  6. Snake River: Meandering through east-central Minnesota, the Snake River is a top destination for smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing. The river’s diverse habitat, including rocky rapids and deep pools, provides excellent opportunities for both shore and boat fishing.

Fishing at Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park, located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, offers a unique fishing experience in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. While Minnesota residents can fish without a license in certain waters within the park, non-residents must possess a valid fishing license to fish anywhere in Fort Snelling State Park.

The park’s waters are home to a variety of fish species, including catfish, walleye, bass, and panfish. The park’s fishing pier and accessible shore fishing spots make it a popular destination for anglers of all ages and abilities. Fort Snelling State Park also offers boat rentals for those looking to explore the rivers’ deeper waters and hidden fishing hotspots.

Fishing Regulations and Guidelines for Non-Resident Anglers

To ensure the sustainability of Minnesota’s fisheries and promote responsible angling practices, non-resident anglers must adhere to the state’s fishing regulations and guidelines. The Minnesota DNR sets specific seasons, daily limits, and size restrictions for various fish species, which can vary by location and time of year.

It’s essential for non-resident anglers to familiarize themselves with the current fishing regulations before hitting the water. The Minnesota DNR provides a comprehensive fishing regulations guide that outlines the rules and restrictions for each species and waterbody. Some key regulations to be aware of include:

  • Walleye and Sauger: The statewide daily limit for walleye and sauger combined is six, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches. However, some lakes and rivers may have more restrictive regulations, so it’s crucial to check the specific rules for your fishing location.
  • Northern Pike: The statewide daily limit for northern pike is three, with a minimum size limit of 30 inches. Some waters may have special regulations, such as catch-and-release only or a protected slot limit, to promote the growth of trophy-sized pike.
  • Bass: The statewide daily limit for bass (largemouth and smallmouth combined) is six, with a minimum size limit of 14 inches. Certain lakes and rivers may have more restrictive regulations to protect and enhance bass populations.

In addition to following species-specific regulations, non-resident anglers should also practice responsible fishing techniques. Catch-and-release fishing is highly encouraged, especially for larger, mature fish that are essential for maintaining healthy populations. When releasing fish, handle them gently, avoid touching their gills, and return them to the water as quickly as possible to minimize stress and improve their chances of survival.

Boating and water safety are also critical considerations for non-resident anglers. Minnesota law requires all boats to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board, and children under 10 years old must wear a life jacket while the boat is underway. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the state’s boating regulations, including speed limits, navigation rules, and restrictions on alcohol consumption.

To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, Minnesota has implemented strict regulations and guidelines for boaters and anglers. All watercraft must be inspected and cleaned before entering and leaving any waterbody, and live bait may not be transported between different waters. Non-resident anglers should also be aware of the state’s infested waters list and take extra precautions when fishing in these areas to avoid inadvertently spreading invasive species.

Additional Considerations for Non-Resident Anglers

While obtaining a fishing license and following regulations are essential steps for non-resident anglers, there are several additional considerations that can enhance your Minnesota fishing experience:

Fishing License Reciprocity Agreements

Minnesota has fishing license reciprocity agreements with several neighboring states, including Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. These agreements allow residents of these states to fish in Minnesota’s boundary waters without purchasing a separate non-resident license, provided they have a valid fishing license from their home state. However, it’s important to note that reciprocity agreements do not apply to inland waters, and non-residents must still purchase a Minnesota fishing license to fish in these areas.

Combining Fishing with Other Outdoor Activities

Minnesota’s stunning natural beauty and diverse outdoor recreation opportunities make it easy to combine fishing with other activities. Many state parks and forests offer camping, hiking, and boating facilities, allowing non-resident anglers to immerse themselves in the state’s breathtaking landscapes while enjoying world-class fishing.

For example, Itasca State Park, home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, offers excellent fishing for bass, panfish, and northern pike, as well as miles of scenic hiking trails and historic sites. Voyageurs National Park, located along the Canadian border, provides a unique blend of fishing and wilderness exploration, with opportunities to catch walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass in its pristine lakes and rivers.

Local Fishing Guides and Charters

For non-resident anglers looking to maximize their fishing success and learn from local experts, hiring a fishing guide or charter can be an excellent option. Minnesota is home to a thriving community of experienced fishing guides who specialize in targeting various species and navigating the state’s diverse waters.

Fishing guides can provide valuable insights into the best fishing spots, techniques, and gear, as well as offer transportation and equipment if needed. Many guides also offer specialized trips, such as fly fishing for trout in the southeast, muskie fishing in the north, or ice fishing during the winter months.

When choosing a fishing guide or charter, it’s essential to do your research and select a reputable operator with a proven track record of success. The Minnesota Fishing Guide Association is a great resource for finding licensed and experienced guides throughout the state.

Fishing Tournaments and Events

Minnesota hosts numerous fishing tournaments and events throughout the year, offering non-resident anglers the opportunity to compete against fellow enthusiasts and potentially win prizes. From local club tournaments to large-scale national events, there’s something for anglers of all skill levels and interests.

Some notable fishing tournaments in Minnesota include the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, which kicks off the state’s fishing season in May, and the Minnesota Bass Nation Tournament of Champions, which attracts top bass anglers from across the country. Many of these events are open to non-resident participants, providing a unique opportunity to experience the excitement of competitive fishing in Minnesota’s legendary waters.

Economic Impact of Non-Resident Anglers

Non-resident anglers play a significant role in supporting Minnesota’s outdoor recreation industry and local economies. According to the Minnesota DNR, non-resident anglers spend over $800 million annually on fishing-related expenses, including lodging, food, transportation, and equipment.

This economic impact is particularly important for rural communities and businesses that rely on tourism and outdoor recreation. By purchasing a non-resident fishing license and supporting local businesses during your visit, you’re not only investing in your own fishing experience but also contributing to the conservation of Minnesota’s natural resources and the vitality of its communities.


Fishing in Minnesota as a non-resident angler is an unforgettable experience that combines world-class fishing, stunning natural beauty, and a welcoming outdoor community. By obtaining your non-resident fishing license, exploring the state’s diverse fishing destinations, and following responsible angling practices, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on an adventure of a lifetime in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Remember to familiarize yourself with Minnesota’s fishing regulations, practice catch-and-release techniques, and take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. By being a responsible and informed angler, you’ll help preserve Minnesota’s fishing heritage for generations to come.

Whether you’re casting for trophy walleye on Lake of the Woods, fly fishing for trout in the southeast, or battling feisty bass on a secluded river, Minnesota offers endless opportunities for non-resident anglers to create lasting memories and forge deep connections with the natural world.

So, what are you waiting for? Obtain your Minnesota non-resident fishing license online, at a local license agent, or by phone at 1-888-665-4236. Gather your gear, plan your trip, and get ready to experience the fishing adventure of a lifetime in Minnesota’s pristine waters.

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