Discover Michigan Fishing License Cost: Your Guide to Affordable Angling

Fishing is a popular outdoor recreational activity in Michigan, with thousands heading out to the over 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams each year. But before casting your line, it’s essential to have a proper Michigan fishing license. This guide will overview the types of licenses available, exceptions, purchasing methods, costs, and expiration dates – equipping you with everything you need to legally and affordably fish the Great Lake State.

Types of Michigan Fishing Licenses

Michigan offers several license options depending on your residency status, age, intended fishing frequency, and duration.

Resident Annual Fishing License

A resident annual fishing license covers fishing in Michigan for a 365 day period. As per the Michigan DNR, it costs $26. To qualify as a resident, you must have lived in Michigan for the past 6 months.

Non-Resident Annual Fishing License

For those visiting or who have lived in Michigan less than 6 months, a non-resident annual fishing license allows fishing for a 365 day period at a cost of $76.

Senior Annual Fishing License

Michigan residents 65 years or older, or legally blind residents of any age, can obtain a senior annual fishing license priced at $11. This covers fishing for 365 days.

Daily Fishing License

Both residents and non-residents have the option to purchase 24 hour fishing licenses in Michigan, with a cost of $10 per day. This allows flexibility for occasional fishing without needing an annual license.

Youth Fishing License

Children under the age of 17 are encouraged to fish by the Michigan DNR through a $2 voluntary youth fishing license. This helps fund youth fishing programs statewide. Those under 17 may still fish for free by following all other regulations.

When Do Michigan Fishing Licenses Expire?

The expiration date varies depending on the type of Michigan fishing license:

  • Annual fishing licenses, including resident, non-resident and senior licenses, expire each year on March 31. They are valid for a 365 day period from April 1 to March 31.
  • Daily fishing licenses expire 24 hours after time of purchase. You must indicate the exact date and time you plan to start fishing.

Always check your fishing license expiry before heading out. Fishing with an expired license can lead to tickets or legal prosecution.

Purchasing a Michigan Fishing License

You have several options to legally purchase a Michigan fishing license:


Fishing licenses can be conveniently purchased online through the Michigan DNR eLicense system. You can apply digitally through a computer or mobile device, receive your license via email, and simply print or download to your phone.


To purchase a license in-person, visit any Michigan DNR office, authorized license retailer, or other approved license agent. Find license agents locations here.

When applying, have an appropriate ID and payment method ready as proof of eligibility. Once issued the license must be carried at all times while fishing.

Who Needs a Michigan Fishing License?

While certain groups are exempt (see exceptions below), generally you need a fishing license in Michigan if:

  • You are 17 years or older (those under 17 are encouraged to purchase a voluntary youth license).
  • You plan to fish the Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers, or state-owned lands.
  • You do not qualify for an exception.

When checked by authorities, you must provide your license along with the ID used during purchase. Fishing without a license when required leads to a fine.

Exceptions: When a License is Not Needed

There are cases when people can fish Michigan waterways without needing a fishing license:

Free Fishing Weekends

During the summer and winter free fishing weekends, anyone can fish without a license for the two days. Check specific dates annually.

Developmentally Disabled Residents

Permanent Michigan residents who are developmentally disabled can apply for a free fishing license through this application. Eligibility documentation is required.

Home for the Aged Residents

Permanent residents of licensed homes for the aged in Michigan can obtain free annual fishing licenses through the management of their care facility.

Out-of-state visitors, newer Michigan residents, and those not meeting exemption criteria still require licenses to fish.

Key Takeaways: Fishing Michigan Legally and Affordably

Fishing Michigan’s vast freshwater resources can create lifelong memories. By reviewing the fishing license options and costs based on your situation, you can ensure you are legally equipped for a day out on the water. Annual licenses offer the best value for regular anglers, while daily licenses allow flexibility for those fishing occasionally.

Several exemptions also exist for seniors, youth and developmentally disabled residents – opening up accessible and affordable fishing fun. Just don’t forget to check license dates and carry while fishing!

Stay up to date on Michigan fishing regulations through the DNR website. With the proper license in hand, you’ll gain access to world-class fisheries pursing trout, walleye, pike, bass and more.

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