Michigan, with its vast freshwater resources, offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the United States. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, understanding the state’s fishing licenses, costs, and regulations is essential for a successful fishing experience. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about fishing in Michigan.
Michigan Fishing Licenses and Costs
Fishing in Michigan is a popular pastime, with opportunities to fish in over 11,000 lakes, 3,000 rivers, and the Great Lakes. However, before you can enjoy the rich fishing experiences that Michigan offers, you need to purchase a fishing license if you are 17 years of age or older.
License Types and Costs
There are several types of fishing licenses available in Michigan, each with its own cost. The Resident Annual License costs $26, allowing Michigan residents to fish for all species for a year. For non-residents, the Nonresident Annual License is available for $76.
For seniors aged 65 and above or those who are legally blind (Michigan residents only), the Senior Annual License is available at a reduced cost of $11. If you’re planning a short fishing trip, you might consider the Daily License, which costs $10 per day.
In addition to these, there’s the DNR Sportcard, which costs $1. This card is required for certain activities and may be needed in addition to your fishing license.
Where to Purchase a License
Fishing licenses can be purchased online on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website or in person at a DNR office, snowmobile dealerships, and other licensed agent locations.
Michigan’s annual fishing license is valid from March 1 of a given year through March 31 of the following year. This means that regardless of when you purchase your license within the year, it will expire on March 31 of the following year.
Use of License Revenue
The revenue generated from the sale of fishing licenses is used for conservation efforts, including the operation of fish hatcheries and other initiatives that benefit anglers and the state’s aquatic life.
It’s important to note that a Michigan fishing license is only valid within the state’s water borders. If you plan to fish in the waters of another state or Canada, you will need to purchase a separate license for that jurisdiction.
Michigan also offers two free fishing weekends per year, during which anyone can fish without a license.
Remember, fishing not only provides a fun and relaxing pastime but also contributes to the conservation, preservation, and management of Michigan’s natural resources. So, Get your fishing license and enjoy the rich fishing experiences that Michigan has to offer!
Michigan Fishing Regulations
Michigan’s fishing regulations are designed to maintain healthy fish populations and provide optimal fishing opportunities for residents and visitors. These regulations, which are updated annually, cover a variety of aspects, including daily catch limits, size limits, catch-and-release (CIR) seasons, special regulations for certain waters, and reporting requirements for certain species.
Daily Catch Limits
Daily catch limits vary depending on the species and the specific waterbody. For instance, in the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, and Lake Erie, the daily limit is six fish per angler, with no size limit. On the other hand, for Northern Pike, the daily possession limit is two fish per day, provided they are at least 24 inches in size.
Size limits are also species-specific. For example, the minimum size limit for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass is 14 inches, while for walleye, it’s 15 inches. Northern Pike must be at least 24 inches, and Muskellunge (including Tiger Muskellunge) must be at least 42 inches.
Catch-and-Immediate-Release (CIR) Seasons
Catch-and-Release (CIR) refers to the act of returning fish immediately to the water without injury and without holding in a livewell or similar object. CIR fishing is permitted all year for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and Muskellunge.
Special Regulations for Certain Waters
Certain waters have special regulations to protect sensitive fish populations. For instance, in the Crystal Waters State Game Area in Monroe County, all fish must be caught and immediately released. Similarly, Lake Gogebic in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties has returned to statewide rules for walleye, which include a 15-inch minimum size limit and a maximum daily possession limit of five fish.
Reporting Requirements for Certain Species
Certain fish species, such as lake sturgeon and muskellunge, require mandatory reporting when harvested. Anglers must report their harvest within 24 hours, either online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or by phone at 888-636-7778.
These regulations are subject to change, and it’s always a good idea to check the latest regulations before heading out to fish. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides up-to-date information on its website.
Remember, these regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of Michigan’s fish populations and to provide enjoyable fishing opportunities for everyone.
Michigan Fishing Seasons
The state of Michigan offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities throughout the year. From the vast Great Lakes to the numerous inland waters, anglers can enjoy fishing for a variety of species. This guide provides detailed information on the fishing seasons for different species in Michigan, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, Muskellunge, northern pike and walleye, salmon and trout, and other species.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
The catch-and-release season for largemouth and smallmouth bass is open all year on nearly all waters. However, the possession season varies depending on the location. For all waters, including the Great Lakes, the possession season runs from May 27 to December 31. For Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, the possession season is from June 17 to December 31.
Muskellunge fishing also offers a catch-and-release season that is open all year. The possession season for all Great Lakes, inland waters, and the St. Marys River is from June 3 to March 15. For Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, the possession season is from June 3 to December 31.
Northern Pike and Walleye
For Northern Pike and Walleye, the possession season on Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers is open all year. On Lower Peninsula inland waters, the possession season is from April 29 to March 15. On Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters, and the St. Marys River, the possession season is from May 15 to March 15.
Salmon and Trout
Salmon and trout fishing is open all year on the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Marys River, St. Clair, and Detroit rivers. For inland Type 3 and 4 streams and Type B, C, E, and F lakes, fishing is also open all year. However, the possession and fishing season for inland Type 1 and 2 streams is from April 29 to September 30, and for inland Type A and D lakes, it is from April 29 to October 31.
For other species such as channel catfish, flathead catfish, Cisco, lake whitefish, round whitefish, smelt, sunfish, white bass, and yellow perch, all waters are open for fishing all year.
Remember, these are general fishing seasons and dates. There are many other fishing regulations associated with these species and seasons. Please refer to the 2023 Michigan Fishing Guide for regulations concerning size limits, possession limits, and other restrictions.
Before you hit the water, make sure to purchase a new fishing license. The 2023 fishing licenses are valid through March 31, 2024. You must purchase a fishing license if you are 17 years of age or older to fish. Fishing licenses can be purchased at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or by downloading the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app and purchasing via the app.
|Species||Catch-and-Immediate-Release Season||Possession Season|
|Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass||All year||May 27–December 31 (All waters), June 17–December 31 (Lake St. Clair and St. Clair and Detroit rivers)|
|Muskellunge||All year||Jun 3–Mar 15 (All Great Lakes & inland waters & St. Marys River), Jun 3–Dec 31 (Lake St. Clair & St. Clair & Detroit rivers)|
|Northern Pike and Walleye||N/A||All year (Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair & St. Clair & Detroit rivers), April 29 – Mar 15 (Lower Peninsula inland waters), May 15 – Mar 15 (Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters & St. Marys River)|
|Salmon and Trout||All year (Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Marys River, St. Clair, and Detroit rivers), All year (Inland Type 3 and 4 streams and Type B, C, E, and F lakes)||Apr 29–Sept 30 (Inland Type 1 and 2 streams), Apr 29–Oct 31 (Inland Type A and D lakes)|
|Other Species||All year||All year|
Fishing in Michigan is a rewarding experience, offering a wide variety of species across different seasons. However, it’s crucial to understand and follow the state’s licensing requirements and fishing regulations to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this guide should serve as a valuable resource for your Michigan fishing adventures.