Get Your Missouri Visitor Fishing License: A Quick Guide

Missouri is home to excellent fishing opportunities across its many lakes, rivers, and streams. From catfish on the Missouri River to bass in Lake of the Ozarks, there is something for every angler. However, to legally fish these waters, most visitors need to obtain the proper Missouri fishing permits. This guide covers everything you need to know as a visitor to get your Missouri fishing license.

We will overview who needs a permit, the types available, where to acquire licenses, associated regulations and limits, penalties for fishing without one, and special annual Free Fishing Days when licenses are waived statewide. Having this key information ensures visitors understand requirements and can fully enjoy Missouri’s world-class fishing.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Missouri

To legally fish or collect other aquatic species in Missouri, most residents and all non-residents need a fishing permit, with a few exemptions. Permits are required for fishing as well as collecting frogs, mussels, clams, turtles, crayfish, and live bait.

The following groups are exempt from needing any Missouri fishing permit:

  • Missouri residents age 65 and older
  • Youth under 16 years old (daily trout permit still required)
  • Those with qualifying disabilities or medical conditions
  • Certain active duty military personnel

All non-residents age 16 and older need a fishing permit, unless they qualify for an exemption. The same goes for Missouri residents ages 16-64.

So in summary, fishing permits are mandatory for non-residents 16+, while residents need them from ages 16-64. Those 65+ or under 16 can fish license free as residents. Medical exemptions also apply for residents of any age if criteria are met.

Types of Licenses Available

Missouri offers a variety of fishing license options to meet needs. Key choices are:

Resident vs Non-Resident Licenses are structured differently for residents and non-residents. Non-resident permits cost more overall.

Annual vs Daily Choose either a year-long permit or a daily variant depending on the length of your stay.

Trout Permit Anyone fishing for trout needs this additional permit, including youth under 16.

White River Border Lakes Permit Required for Missouri or Arkansas residents fishing the Bull Shoals, Norfork, and Table Rock Lakes areas.

Below are current permit rates for key options:

Permit Type Resident Rate Non-Resident Rate
Annual $12 (ages 16-64) $49 (ages 16+)
Daily $8 $8
Trout $7 $7
White River Border Lakes $10 $10

Rates are subject to change annually, so verify current prices when purchasing.

Where to Buy a License

Missouri offers fishing permits through multiple convenient channels:

Online – Purchase via Missouri Department of Conservation’s e-Permits system. Fast, secure, available 24/7.

Phone – Call 1-800-392-4115. Helpful for those less internet-savvy.

Local Vendors – Various bait & tackle shops, retailers, etc. Offer in-person service.

MO Hunting & Fishing App – Buy digitally through the official app. Easy for smartphone users.

Some specialty permits like Lifetime Licenses must be acquired directly through the Department of Conservation by mail or in-person. But the vast majority, including all standard fishing permits, are available through the above channels.

Fishing Regulations and Limits

When fishing Missouri waters, follow all regulations around seasons, catch limits, size restrictions, and legal gear:

Season Dates – Different species have defined seasons. Fishing outside those periods is illegal.

Daily Catch Limits – The state enforces caps on the number of fish per species per day.

Size Restrictions – Some fish like bass and catfish must meet minimum lengths to be kept.

Gear Restrictions – Certain equipment like trotlines or juglines may be prohibited on some fisheries.

Limits help conserve fish populations for sustainable fishing. You can check the most up-to-date regulations through the Missouri Fishing Regulations Summary published annually by the Department of Conservation. This covers seasons, limits, sizes, and gear rules in detail.

Penalties for Fishing Without a License

Fishing without the proper Missouri permits brings penalties:

Residents: Face fines of $43.50 plus court costs around $83.50, totaling $127.

Non-Residents: Higher base fine of $76.50 plus court costs makes a $137 total.

Harsher punishments like confiscation of equipment may happen for repeat offenders. Wardens can check licenses at any time, so having the proper permits is essential to avoid these outcomes.

Special Events and Free Fishing Days

One of the best times for visitors to fish Missouri without a license is during Free Fishing Days. These take place statewide over one weekend in early June each year.

All permits are waived during Free Fishing Days, allowing anyone to fish public waters freely. It offers a special chance to enjoy Missouri angling without a license. Various community events also accompany these days like fishing derbies and educational activities.

So mark those Free Fishing Days on your calendar for excellent license-free action. But any other time, ensure you get the required permits covered above to legally access Missouri’s tremendous fishing opportunities.


Fishing Missouri’s vast lakes, rivers, and streams is a top attraction for visitors and residents alike. To fully enjoy these fisheries legally, most anglers need the proper permits and licenses outlined in this guide. Be sure to verify the latest permit requirements and exemptions when planning your trip through the Missouri Department of Conservation. Their licensing programs support fisheries conservation so all can enjoy rewarding fishing for generations to come.

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