Michigan Fishing License 2024: Costs, Types and How to Buy

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Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any state, so it’s a great spot for lake and river fishing.

You can access four of the five Great Lakes from Michigan and it offers great fishing for salmon, steelhead, trout, walleye, pike, crappie, bass and more.

Then there’s muskie, sauger, lake trout and more.

To enjoy this smorgasbord of freshwater fishing you need to have a license. 

In this comprehensive guide we explain how to get a Michigan fishing license, how much it costs and which license you will need for both resident and non resident anglers.

Michigan Fishing License Age: When Do you Need One?

Michigan Fishing Brown Trout Caught Lake Fishing
Michigan Fishing Brown Trout Caught Lake Fishing

A license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles in public waters of the state. If you are 17 years of age or older and fish in Michigan, you must purchase a fishing license. If turning 17 at any point during the current season (April 1 – March 31) you’ll need to buy a license. (See here for how this stacks up against the age requirement in other states).

Here is the license fees page: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/things-to-do/fishing/license-info

How Much is a Michigan Fishing License?

An annual all-species Michigan fishing license costs $26 for residents of the state. For non resident anglers, an all species annual Michigan fishing license costs $76.

There are a range of other licenses covering differing ages, periods of time and species. We’ve summarized all the key information on the cost of all types of Michigan fishing licenses for your convenience in the table below.

See also: Fishing license prices in all states

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Michigan?

If you are under 17, you may fish without a license, but you are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations.

Any adult actively assisting a minor must have a fishing license. However, adults without a fishing license may do the following:

  • Help land a fish with a net or their hands
  • Help unhook a fish
  • Set up the fishing rod with the appropriate gear
  • Bait the hook
  • Fix tangles or snags
  • Cast the line for young anglers; however, it should be stressed the young angler must be an active participant while the adult is only assisting 

Michigan Fishing License Cost and Types

Michigan offers various types of fishing licenses to residents and non-residents. All fishing licenses are good for all species allowed for harvest as indicated in this Fishing Guide.

When fishing, you must carry your license and the identification used to purchase that license and exhibit both upon request of a Michigan Conservation Officer, a Tribal Conservation Officer or any law enforcement officer.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has an electronic license that allows an individual to display a copy of the fishing license using a smart phone or similar device.

Michigan’s annual fishing license is valid from March 1 of a given year through March 31 of the following year.

To purchase a fishing license, you must have:

  • A valid Michigan Driver’s License; or
  • A valid Michigan ID Card (issued by the Secretary of State); or
  • A valid driver’s license from your state of residency; or
  • A DNR Sportcard (issued by license dealers). If the information on your DNR Sportcard from a previous year is still accurate, you may continue to use it. NOTE: When purchasing a DNR Sportcard you will be asked to provide two proofs of Michigan residency.

A $1 surcharge is included in the resident annual, nonresident annual, and senior annual fishing licenses as well as the combo hunt and fish licenses, as noted with the asterisk (*).

Resident Fishing Licenses

To qualify for a resident fishing license, you must:

  • Be a person who resides in a settled or permanent home or domicile within the boundaries of this state with the intention of remaining in this state, or
  • Be a full-time student at a Michigan college or university, and reside in Michigan, or
  • Serve full-time in the U.S. Military and be either officially stationed in Michigan or maintain residency in Michigan.

The ownership of land in Michigan by itself is not qualification for a resident license.

License TypeCost
DNR Sportcard$1 (buy now)
Annual All Species Resident$26* (buy now)
Annual All Species Senior (65+ or who are legally blind, Michigan residents only)$11* (buy now)
Daily All Species Resident(you set the date/time for the license to start)$10/day (buy now)
Underwater Spearfishing (Resident)Requires monthly effort and harvest reporting. Free (A DNR Sportcard may be needed)
Annual All Species Youth (voluntary license for residents or nonresidents under the age of 17)$2* (buy now)
Hunt/Fish Combo Resident$76* (buy now)
Hunt/Fish Combo Senior (65+, Michigan residents only)$43* (buy now)

Non Resident Fishing Licenses

License TypeCost
DNR Sportcard$1 (buy now)
Annual All Species Nonresident$76* (buy now)
Daily All Species Nonresident(you set the date/time for the license to start)$10/day (buy now)
Underwater Spearfishing (Non resident)Requires monthly effort and harvest reporting. Free (A DNR Sportcard may be needed)
Annual All Species Youth (voluntary license for residents or nonresidents under the age of 17)$2* (buy now)
Hunt/Fish Combo Nonresident$266* (buy now)
Michigan Fishing Steelhead
Michigan offers great fishing for steelhead

Who Can Purchase Discounted Michigan Fishing Licenses?

Certain individuals are eligible for discounted fishing licenses in Missouri.

This includes military personnel, veterans, and disabled persons. Each category has specific eligibility criteria, often requiring documentation to prove eligibility.

These discounts make fishing more accessible and enjoyable for a wider range of people.

See here for info on discounts for veterans and seniors in other states. See the info here on free or discounted licenses for disabled anglers.

Special Fishing Licenses in Michigan

U.S. Military Personnel: Fishing license fees are waived for full-time, federal, active-duty U.S. military personnel who have maintained resident status.

The individual must present military ID, leave papers, duty papers, military orders or other evidence verifying that he/she is an active-duty member of the military, along with a valid Michigan driver’s license or voter registration card.

Military members receiving a free license must present the license, along with proof of military status, if requested by a Conservation Officer. NOTE: nonresident, active-duty military personnel officially stationed in Michigan qualify for Michigan resident rates.

Michigan Veterans with Disabilities: A resident veteran with a disability is eligible to obtain a fishing license, that does not require a separate application, free of charge if one of the following conditions is met:

  • the person has been determined by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service and entitled to veterans’ benefits at the 100% rate, for a disability other than blindness
  • the person has been rated by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs as individually unemployable.

Residents who are blind: A resident who is declared legally blind is eligible to purchase the senior fishing license.

Persons with developmental disabilities or residents of a home for the aged (licensed under the Public Health Code): A developmentally disabled individual or a resident of a home for the aged licensed under the Public Health Code may obtain a permit from the DNR to fish without a license if the developmentally disabled individual or the resident of the licensed home for the aged is a member of a group accompanied by 1 or more adults who hold a valid license to fish.

Where Can I Buy a Michigan Fishing Licence?

To buy a Michigan fishing license, you can choose from several convenient options:

Buy a License through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

You can obtain a fishing license in person at DNR Customer Service Centers across the state. Check the official website for a list of office locations.

You can also call the DNR’s eLicense Help Desk: 517-284-6057. Be sure to have your identification and payment information ready.

Buy a Michigan fishing license nline

You can visit the official website at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses and follow the instructions to purchase your fishing license electronically. You can print your license or have an electronic copy on your mobile device for verification while fishing.

Michigan DNR Hunt Fish App

The Michigan DNR has a mobile app called Michigan DNR Hunt Fish, which provides a mobile platform to buy and store licenses, report harvests, access guides and digests, and receive the latest hunting and fishing updates.

Walmart and other Retail Outlets

You can also buy a Michigan fishing license in person at various locations, including Walmart, sporting goods stores, bait shops, and tackle stores. Please check the Retailer Locations page find the nearest vendor in your area.

What Happens With Michigan Fishing License Fees?

Revenue generated from fishing license fees helps pay for wildlife management and natural resource conservation. It will be used to educate the public on the benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping in Michigan, and the impact of these activities on the conservation, preservation and management of the state’s natural resources in accordance with statute.

Does Michigan Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Yes, Michigan has reciprocal fishing license agreements with neighboring states, such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Indiana.

Does Michigan Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

At present, Michigan does not offer lifetime fishing licenses. Anglers must obtain annual or shorter-term licenses based on their residency and fishing preferences.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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