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Get Your MN Fishing License: A Simple and Quick Guide

Are you planning a fishing trip in the beautiful state of Minnesota? Before you cast your line, make sure you have a valid Minnesota fishing license. Getting a fishing license is not only a legal requirement but also an important way to support conservation efforts and maintain the state’s thriving fisheries. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the simple and quick process of obtaining your MN fishing license, so you can focus on reeling in that trophy catch.

Why Is a Fishing License Necessary in Minnesota?

Purchasing a fishing license is more than just a legal formality; it’s an investment in the future of Minnesota’s fisheries. The revenue generated from fishing license sales plays a crucial role in funding the state’s fish and wildlife management programs. In fact, over 40% of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ conservation efforts are supported by fishing license sales. By obtaining a license, you’re directly contributing to:

  • Fishery conservation and restoration projects
  • Habitat protection and enhancement initiatives
  • Fish stocking programs
  • Angler education and outreach
  • Fishing access improvements

In short, your fishing license purchase helps ensure that Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams remain healthy and well-stocked for generations of anglers to come.

Who Needs a Minnesota Fishing License?

In Minnesota, anyone 16 years or older must have a valid fishing license to fish in the state’s waters. This requirement applies to both residents and non-residents. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Minnesota residents who are 90 years or older
  • Minnesota residents who are legally blind
  • Minnesota residents who are disabled veterans with a 100% service-connected disability
  • Minnesota residents who are active-duty military personnel on leave

If you fall into one of these categories, you may be eligible for a free or discounted fishing license. Check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for more information on these special licenses.

Types of Minnesota Fishing Licenses

Minnesota offers several types of fishing licenses to accommodate the needs of different anglers. The most common licenses include:

  1. Annual Resident Fishing License: Valid for one year from the date of purchase, this license is for Minnesota residents aged 16 and older.
  2. Annual Non-Resident Fishing License: This license is for non-residents aged 16 and older and is valid for one year from the date of purchase.
  3. Short-Term Licenses: Both residents and non-residents can purchase short-term licenses, which are ideal for weekend trips or vacations. Options include:
    • 24-Hour Fishing License
    • 72-Hour Fishing License
    • 7-Day Fishing License
  4. Combination Licenses: Minnesota also offers combination licenses that include both fishing and small game hunting privileges. These licenses are available for both residents and non-residents.
  5. Trout/Salmon Stamp: If you plan to fish for trout or salmon in designated trout streams, lakes, or Lake Superior, you’ll need to purchase a trout/salmon stamp in addition to your fishing license.

When choosing your license, consider factors such as the duration of your fishing trip, the species you plan to target, and your residency status.

How to Get Your Minnesota Fishing License

Obtaining your MN fishing license is a breeze, with both online and in-person options available.

Purchasing Your License Online

The quickest and most convenient way to get your fishing license is through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ online licensing system. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the Minnesota DNR’s online license sales website.
  2. Click on the “Get Started” button under the “Purchase a License” section.
  3. Select the type of license you need (e.g., annual, short-term, trout/salmon stamp) and click “Add to Cart.”
  4. If prompted, enter your Minnesota DNR customer number or create a new account.
  5. Provide the required personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and email address.
  6. Review your order and proceed to the secure payment page. You can pay using a credit or debit card.
  7. After completing your purchase, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to print your license. Make sure to carry your printed license with you while fishing.

The online licensing system is available 24/7, making it easy to purchase your license at your convenience.

Buying Your License in Person

If you prefer to purchase your fishing license in person, you have several options:

  1. Minnesota DNR License Centers: Visit one of the DNR’s license centers located throughout the state. You can find a list of locations on the DNR’s website.
  2. Authorized License Agents: Many sporting goods stores, bait shops, and gas stations serve as authorized license agents. Look for the “DNR License Agent” sign or use the DNR’s license agent locator to find a location near you.

When purchasing your license in person, make sure to bring a valid form of identification and your payment method (cash, check, or credit/debit card). The license agent will process your purchase and provide you with a printed copy of your fishing license.

Where to Fish in Minnesota

Now that you have your fishing license, it’s time to explore Minnesota’s world-class fishing opportunities. With over 11,000 lakes and 69,000 miles of rivers and streams, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” offers endless options for anglers of all skill levels. Some popular fishing destinations include:

  1. Lake Mille Lacs: Known for its trophy walleye, bass, and muskie fishing, Lake Mille Lacs is a must-visit for serious anglers.
  2. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: This pristine wilderness area features over 1,000 lakes and streams, offering excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike, and lake trout.
  3. Lake of the Woods: Bordering Canada, Lake of the Woods is renowned for its outstanding walleye, sauger, and northern pike fishing.
  4. Mississippi River: The mighty Mississippi offers diverse fishing opportunities, from catfish and bass in the southern regions to walleye and muskie in the north.
  5. Lake Vermilion: This scenic lake in northern Minnesota is a favorite among anglers seeking walleye, bass, and northern pike.

Remember to familiarize yourself with the specific fishing regulations for the water body you plan to fish. The Minnesota DNR provides detailed information on seasons, limits, and special regulations on their website and in the annual fishing regulations booklet.

Minnesota Fishing Regulations

To ensure the sustainability of Minnesota’s fisheries and promote responsible angling practices, it’s essential to follow the state’s fishing regulations. Some key regulations to keep in mind include:

  • Daily and Possession Limits: Each fish species has specific daily and possession limits, which can vary by water body. Make sure to check the regulations for the specific lake or river you plan to fish.
  • Seasons: Fishing seasons for certain species may be restricted to specific dates. For example, the walleye season on many lakes opens in May and closes in February.
  • Size Limits: Some fish species have minimum or maximum size limits in place to protect breeding populations and maintain healthy fish stocks.
  • Bait Restrictions: Certain waters may have restrictions on the use of live bait to prevent the spread of invasive species. Always dispose of unused bait properly and never release live bait into a water body.
  • Catch-and-Release: When practicing catch-and-release fishing, handle fish gently and return them to the water as quickly as possible to minimize stress and injury.

By following these regulations and practicing ethical angling, you’ll help preserve Minnesota’s incredible fishing resources for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I purchase a fishing license for someone else? Yes, you can purchase a fishing license as a gift for another person. However, you’ll need to provide their personal information, such as name, address, and date of birth, when buying the license.
  2. Do I need a fishing license if I’m helping my child fish? If you’re assisting a child younger than 16 years old, you do not need a fishing license as long as the child has a valid license (if required based on age) and you’re within arm’s reach of the child.
  3. What happens if I lose my fishing license? If you purchased your license online, you can reprint it from the Minnesota DNR’s website. If you bought your license in person, you’ll need to visit a license agent or DNR office to obtain a duplicate license for a small fee.
  4. Can I fish in Minnesota state parks without a fishing license? No, you still need a valid Minnesota fishing license to fish in state parks. The only exception is during the state’s “Take a Kid Fishing Weekend,” typically held in early June, when residents can fish without a license if accompanied by a child younger than 16.
  5. Are there any free fishing days in Minnesota? Yes, Minnesota offers a few free fishing days each year, usually during the summer months. On these designated days, residents and non-residents can fish without a license. However, all other fishing regulations, such as size and possession limits, still apply. Check the Minnesota DNR’s website for the current year’s free fishing dates.


Obtaining your Minnesota fishing license is a simple, quick, and essential step in planning your fishing adventure. By purchasing a license, you’re not only complying with state regulations but also supporting crucial conservation efforts that keep Minnesota’s fisheries thriving. With your license in hand, you’re ready to explore the state’s incredible fishing opportunities and create unforgettable memories on the water. Remember to always fish responsibly, follow the regulations, and respect the environment.

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