Fishing Licenses in Michigan


There are many different types of recreational fishing license options in Michigan to choose from in order to fish within state boundaries. Anglers should understand the variety of freshwater fishing license options, as well as the associated fees. A sport fishing license is the most common type of license in Michigan, as it is issued for anglers who fish for hobby. A commercial fishing license is another option, but is used primarily for anglers who fish for profit or who choose to sell their catch through a business.

Before choosing a recreational freshwater fishing permit, anglers should understand the requirements that must be met as illustrated by the state of Michigan. Many fishermen in the state wonder, “do you need a fishing license for freshwater?” and you can find answers to this and more, continue reading the sections below.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Michigan?

A game fishing license in Michigan is mandatory for all anglers age 17 and older. Anglers who are younger than 17 can fish without a freshwater fishing permit, however, they must observe all Michigan fishing rules and regulations.

Michigan Fishing License Requirements

Anglers who seek to purchase a freshwater fishing license in Michigan will need to follow all of the necessary requirements. Requirements for obtaining a sport fishing license in Michigan include:

  • Anglers must have a valid Michigan driver license or a valid Michigan ID card.
  • Anglers must have a DNR Sportscard issued by a licensed dealer.

In addition, one of the primary requirements to obtain a freshwater fishing permit is to establish whether or not the angler is a resident or non-resident. A resident freshwater fishing license requirement states that the angler must reside in the state of Michigan, be a full-time student of a Michigan college or university or serve full-time in the U.S. military and be stationed in Michigan.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Michigan

Many U.S. states have certain recreational fishing license options, depending on whether or not they are a coastal state. Massachusetts, for example, has additional saltwater fishing license options since anglers have access to the ocean. Michigan, however, does not offer a saltwater fishing permit option since there is no access to a saltwater area of the state. Instead, Michigan has a variety of freshwater fishing license options, which include:


  • DNR Sportscard
  • Resident annual
  • Non-resident annual
  • Senior annual (residents 65 or older)
  • 24-hour (resident)
  • 24-hour (non-resident)
  • 72-hour (resident)
  • 72-hour (non-resident)
  • Muskellunge Harvest Tag
  • Sturgeon Fishing Permit and Harvest Tag
  • Hunting & Fishing (resident)
  • Hunting & Fishing (non-resident)

What types of fish can I catch with a fishing license in Michigan?

A sport fishing license can be used to catch a variety of fish present in Michigan waters. In fact, the state of Michigan has produced some of the biggest fish on record. A few of the varieties of fish which can be legally caught with a recreational freshwater fishing license include:

  • Atlantic salmon
  • Bass
  • Trout
  • Lake sturgeon
  • Muskellunge
  • Panfish
  • Northern pike
  • Smelt
  • Walleye
  • Yellow perch


What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Michigan?

There are two types of special fishing permits which need to be purchased in Michigan before legally fishing for this variety. The Muskellunge Harvest Tag is necessary for fishing for Muskellunge and the Sturgeon Fishing Permit is necessary for fishing Sturgeon. A game fishing license will be mandatory before acquiring the specials permits.

How long is a fishing license valid in Michigan?

A recreational fishing license is generally valid for the length of the fishing season. Michigan kicks off their fishing season on or around April 1 every year. After April 1, anglers are required to purchase freshwater fishing permits in order to legally fish within the state.

How much does a Michigan fishing license cost?

Depending on the type of sport fishing license an angler purchases, the cost will vary. For example, a non-resident freshwater fishing license will be more expensive when compared to the resident license. The freshwater fishing license cost options include:

  • DNR Sportscard – $1.00
  • Resident annual – $26.00
  • Non-resident annual – $76.00
  • Senior annual (residents 65 or older) – $11.00
  • 24-hour (resident) – $10.00
  • 24-hour (non-resident) – $10.00
  • 72-hour (resident) – $30.00
  • 72-hour (non-resident) $30.00
  • Muskellunge Harvest Tag – Free with license
  • Sturgeon Fishing Permit and Harvest Tag – Free with license
  • Hunting & Fishing (resident) – $76.00
  • Hunting & Fishing (non-resident) $266.00

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Are fishing license discounts available in Michigan?

There are quite a few discounts applicable to recreational fishing permits in Michigan. First, there are discounts for a resident freshwater fishing license, versus a non-resident fishing license. In addition, discounts for game fishing licenses are available for senior citizens, anglers who are legally blind, anglers who are active in the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans with 100 percent disability.

Where can I get a fishing license in Michigan?

In order to obtain either a resident or a non-resident fishing license in Michigan, there are two options: online or in person. Anglers who choose to purchase a recreational fishing license online can visit the eLicense website of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Purchasing a game and fish fishing license in person will require an angler to visit a DNR Customer Service Center or through DNR licensed agents throughout the state.

How can I replace my Michigan fishing license?

For lost or damaged recreational freshwater fishing licenses in Michigan, anglers can replace them through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) eLicense website. For anglers who originally purchased their recreational fishing license online, the option to login and check the purchase history will be available. Reprinting the game and fish fishing license will always be an option, otherwise anglers will need to visit a Michigan DNR authorized dealer.


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