Missouri Fishing Licenses: How Long Do They Last?

Missouri Fishing Licenses: A Comprehensive Guide to Duration and Regulations

Fishing is a beloved pastime in Missouri, with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with diverse fish species. However, before you can cast your line into these bountiful waters, you’ll need to obtain a valid Missouri fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of getting your license, understanding the regulations, and ensuring a responsible and enjoyable fishing experience.

Who Needs a Missouri Fishing License?

In Missouri, anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 is required to have a fishing license to legally fish in the state’s waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Children under the age of 16 are exempt from needing a fishing license.
  • Missouri residents aged 65 and older are also exempt from the fishing license requirement.
  • Individuals with certain disabilities, such as visual impairments or mobility limitations, may qualify for exemptions or discounted licenses.

It’s important to note that even if you are exempt from needing a general fishing license, you may still be required to obtain additional permits or stamps for specific activities, such as trout fishing or fishing in designated areas.

Types of Missouri Fishing Licenses

Missouri offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different angling preferences and durations:

  1. Daily Fishing Permit: Perfect for short-term fishing trips or occasional anglers, this permit is valid for 24 hours from the time of purchase. It allows you to fish in all public waters in Missouri, except for designated trout areas.
  2. Annual Fishing Permit: If you plan on fishing regularly throughout the year, the annual permit is your best option. It’s valid from the date of purchase through the last day of February of the following year, providing you with a full year of fishing opportunities.
  3. Trout Permit: Missouri is renowned for its excellent trout fishing, but you’ll need a trout permit in addition to your regular fishing license to fish in designated trout waters. This permit is required for all anglers, regardless of age or residency status.
  4. Lifetime Fishing Permit: For the dedicated angler, a lifetime permit offers unbeatable value and convenience. This one-time purchase grants you fishing privileges for life, eliminating the need to renew your license annually.

When deciding which license to purchase, consider factors like the duration of your fishing plans, the species you’re targeting, and your budget.

Purchasing Your Missouri Fishing License

Obtaining your Missouri fishing license is a straightforward process, with several convenient options available:

  1. Online: Visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website (mdc.mo.gov) and follow the prompts to purchase your license online. This option allows you to print a temporary license immediately and have the physical license mailed to you.
  2. By Phone: Call the Missouri Department of Conservation’s toll-free number (1-800-392-4115) and follow the automated prompts to purchase your license over the phone using a credit card.
  3. In Person: Visit any Missouri Department of Conservation office or authorized license vendor, such as sporting goods stores, bait shops, or select retail outlets.

Remember to have your personal information (name, address, date of birth) and payment method (cash, check, or credit card) ready when purchasing your license.

Understanding Missouri Fishing Regulations

Obtaining your fishing license is just the first step in becoming a responsible angler. Missouri has a set of fishing regulations in place to help preserve the state’s aquatic resources for future generations. Here are some key regulations to be aware of:

Seasons and Limits

Different fish species have specific seasons and daily catch limits in Missouri. For example, black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass) have a daily limit of six fish, with only four of those being over 12 inches in length. Trout, on the other hand, have a daily limit of four fish, with no size restrictions.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the seasons and limits for the species you plan to target, as these regulations are designed to maintain healthy fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing opportunities.

Size Restrictions

In addition to daily limits, some fish species in Missouri have minimum or maximum size restrictions. For instance, walleye must be at least 15 inches in length to be legally harvested, while paddlefish (spoonbill) must be between 24 and 34 inches to be kept.

These size restrictions help protect breeding-sized fish and ensure that fish have the opportunity to reproduce before being caught, contributing to the long-term health of the fishery.

Approved Fishing Methods

Missouri also has regulations regarding the types of fishing gear and techniques that are allowed. In general, anglers can use pole and line, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, and jug line methods. However, certain waters may have restrictions on the use of specific gear or techniques, such as the prohibition of live bait in certain trout streams.

It’s crucial to review the regulations for the specific water body you plan to fish to ensure you’re using approved methods and avoiding any potential violations.

Protected Species

Some fish species in Missouri are protected and must be released immediately if caught. These include species like the lake sturgeon, which is a threatened species in the state. Knowing which species are protected and how to properly handle and release them is essential for responsible angling.

Fishing Responsibly in Missouri

Obtaining your fishing license and following the regulations are just the beginning of being a responsible angler in Missouri. Here are some additional best practices to help preserve the state’s aquatic resources:

Practice Catch and Release

Consider releasing fish that you don’t plan to eat, especially larger, breeding-sized individuals. This helps maintain healthy fish populations and ensures that others can enjoy the thrill of catching these fish in the future.

Handle Fish with Care

When releasing a fish, minimize its time out of the water and handle it gently to reduce stress and injury. Wet your hands before touching the fish, and avoid squeezing it or touching its gills.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack out any trash, fishing line, or other debris to keep our waterways clean and prevent harm to wildlife. Consider bringing a small trash bag or container with you to make it easier to dispose of waste responsibly.

Report Violations

If you witness any illegal fishing activities, such as poaching or fishing in restricted areas, report them to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111. Your actions can help protect our natural resources and ensure that everyone can enjoy fishing in Missouri for years to come.

Engaging with the Missouri Fishing Community

Fishing in Missouri is not just a solitary pursuit; it’s also a vibrant community of anglers who share a passion for the sport and a commitment to conservation. Here are some ways to get involved and connect with fellow fishing enthusiasts:

Participate in Free Fishing Days

The Missouri Department of Conservation offers Free Fishing Days annually, during which anyone can fish without a permit. These days encourage newcomers and seasoned anglers alike to experience fishing in Missouri’s waters. They typically occur in early June and provide an excellent opportunity to learn about local fish species, fishing techniques, and conservation practices.

Volunteer for Conservation Programs

Missouri’s commitment to conservation is evident in its variety of programs that involve the public. Individuals can volunteer to assist with fish habitat improvement projects, stream cleanups, and educational outreach events. These programs aim to maintain healthy fish populations and water quality, ensuring the sustainability of Missouri’s aquatic ecosystems for future generations.

Join Local Fishing Clubs or Organizations

Connecting with local fishing clubs or organizations is a great way to meet like-minded anglers, share tips and techniques, and stay informed about upcoming events or conservation initiatives. Many of these groups also organize fishing tournaments or outings, providing opportunities for friendly competition and camaraderie.


Fishing in Missouri is a cherished tradition that offers not only recreational enjoyment but also a chance to connect with nature and contribute to the preservation of the state’s aquatic resources. By obtaining the appropriate fishing license, familiarizing yourself with the regulations, and practicing responsible angling, you can ensure a fulfilling and sustainable fishing experience for yourself and future generations.

Remember, the Missouri Department of Conservation is a valuable resource for up-to-date information on licenses, regulations, and conservation efforts. Stay informed, get involved, and enjoy the rich fishing opportunities that Missouri has to offer.

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