How Much Does A Michigan Fishing License Cost?


Known as the second largest of the Great Lakes, the sixth largest lake globally, and the only one of the Great Lakes that is completely within the United States borders, Lake Michigan offers a tremendous and limitless fishing experience. A little smaller than the whole state of West Virginia, Lake Michigan provides 22,300 square miles of water.

The lake’s surface is about 580 feet above sea level, and the lake has a volume of 1,180 cubic miles, with 1,650 miles of shoreline consisting largely of pebble beaches and sand. The lake borders Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, making these states popular for their recreational and sport fishing programs.

Apart from the fact that it borders four of the five great lakes, the state of Michigan also has an additional over 11,000 inland lakes and 3,000 rivers, becoming one of the longest, most prominent coastlines in the country.

If you intend to embark on a fishing expedition to Lake Michigan or any of the state’s water bodies, you need to know a few things on what to expect when you get there. Our article breaks down what you need to know about the Michigan fishing license.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Michigan?

Michigan’s law requires anglers over the age of 17 to purchase a fishing license, whether they are on their own or a fishing charter. Depending on whether you are a resident of Michigan or from a different state, you will need to apply for separate permits. According to Michigan Law, a resident is anyone who has been living in Michigan continuously for six months or more or a full-time student at a Michigan university or college who resides in Michigan. You can prove your Michigan residency through your state-issued driver’s license, a valid Michigan ID, a DNR Sportscard, or your social security number.

Are There Exemptions to Michigan Fishing License Requirements?

Yes. Certain persons are exempted from the requirement of a Michigan fishing license.

  • Anglers under the age of 17 may fish without a Michigan fishing license but must adhere to fishing regulations and rules. This year, a new law allows anglers at the age of 16 or younger to purchase a voluntary youth all-species license.
  • Any person over 17 helping a minor who doesn’t have a license must have a fishing license. A fishing license is required when targeting fish, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans.
  • The adult without a fishing license may help the child set up the rod with appropriate fishing gear, bait the hook, cast the line, land fish with their hands or a net, unhook fish, and fix tangles. For all other fishing activities, the adult must have a fishing license.
  • Residents of Michigan who are in active military duty do not need to have a fishing license provided they can verify their status.
  • Michigan veteran residents who are unemployable due to disability can fish without a fishing license.
  • Non-resident military staff stationed in Michigan can purchase a fishing license at resident prices.
  • Registered blind Michigan residents are eligible to purchase fishing licenses at senior rates.

What Is the Cost of a Michigan Fishing License?

Michigan provides a 24-hour, 72-hour, and annual fishing license that caters to all-fish species.

Residents and non-residents are charged the same for the first two licenses. However, for the annual license, the price varies for Michigan residents and non-residents.

Description24 Hour License72 Hour LicenseAnnual License
Resident$10$30$26
Non-resident$10$30$76
Senior/legally blind resident$10$30$11
Voluntary License (Residents & Non-Residence under the age of 17)N/AN/A$2

Michigan’s residents are advised to take advantage of the massive discount that purchasing an annual license provides. For resident adult anglers, the yearly charge is cheaper than a three-day pass. Seniors residing in Michigan can also buy an annual pass for one dollar more than they would pay for a 24-hour license.

Non-residents typically pay more than residents for fishing licenses, with the annual permit going for $76, 50 dollars more than what residents pay. Along with their fishing license, non-residents are required to buy a DNR Sportcard that costs $1.

If you’re looking to engage in activities other than fishing, there are combination licenses that allow you to hunt and fish in the state of Michigan. A resident pays $76 for an annual combo license, a non-resident pays $266, while seniors and legally blind persons buy the combo license for a discounted price of $43.

Despite proposals to bring forth a lifetime fishing license in Michigan, there is still no option to buy a fishing license that’s valid for the rest of your life.

Revenue generated from issuing licenses is used to educate the public on the advantages of trapping, fishing, and hunting in Michigan and the effect these activities have on the preservation, conservation, and management of the state’s natural resources.

What’s the Validity of a Michigan Fishing License?

The validity of your fishing license will depend on the type of license you have purchased.

For the 24-hour and 72-hour licenses, they are valid for the exact period. From the time you purchase the license, you will have the specific dedicated time to go fishing. If you buy a license ahead of time, you have the option of choosing which date you’d like it to be valid, and it will remain so for 72 or 24 hours after that, depending on your license.

The Michigan fishing season usually runs from 31st March every year. Therefore, annual fishing licenses are valid from 1st March of a given year until 31st March the following year. A Michigan fishing license is also valid in Indiana and Wisconsin states as long as you adhere to the respective state’s fishing regulations.

Where Can You Apply a Michigan Fishing License?

There are various ways you can purchase your fishing license.

1. Online

You can apply for your license on the internet. To do so;

  • Visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website and go to their E-license page.
  • Fill in the fishing license form, provide all the required documentation and pay the license fee.
  • Download the license in PDF format, print it out, or carry it as a digital copy.

To keep up with the digital world, Michigan has made it easier and more convenient for you to get access to a fishing license within minutes of paying for it using this method.

2. In-Person

You can also purchase your fishing license in-person from the Department of Natural Resources offices, licensed agents, DNR customer service centers across the state, or any official stores selling fishing licenses. To find the nearest DNR agents, you can check on the Department of Natural Resources website.

To apply for a license, you need to provide proof of residency, so ensure you carry your ID, driving license, or social security card.

When you go fishing, ensure you carry your license and the identification document you used to purchase it. This way, you’ll be able to present it when called upon by any law enforcement officer, a Michigan Conversation Officer, or a Tribal Conservation Officer. In the absence of a hard copy fishing license, you may present a digital copy.

Final Word

Whether you’re thinking of fishing in the great Lake Michigan, any of the inland smaller lakes, or the numerous rivers within the state of Michigan, to ensure you have an undisrupted and fantastic fishing experience, start planning for your expedition by buying a license.

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