Children aged 16 and under are not required to obtain a fishing license in Michigan. They can fish without a license, but they must still adhere to all fishing rules and regulations set forth by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Anyone aged 17 or older must purchase a valid fishing license to legally fish in Michigan’s public waters. This includes targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and reptiles.

Fishing is a beloved pastime in Michigan, offering a chance to connect with nature and create lasting memories with family and friends. With its abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with diverse fish species, the state is a true angler’s paradise. However, before you grab your rod and reel, it’s crucial to understand Michigan’s fishing license requirements, especially when it comes to children. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the age-specific regulations, exceptions, and everything you need to know to ensure a legal and enjoyable fishing experience in Michigan in 2024.

Types of Fishing Licenses Available in Michigan

To accommodate diverse angling needs, Michigan provides various fishing license options tailored to different preferences. Here’s a table summarizing the most common license types:

License TypeResident CostNon-Resident CostDetails
Annual Fishing License$26$76Valid for one year, from March 1 to March 31 of the following year.
Senior Annual Fishing License$11N/AFor Michigan residents aged 65 and older or those legally blind.
24-Hour Fishing License$10$10Valid for a single day of fishing.
Hunt/Fish Combination License$76$266Covers both hunting and fishing privileges.

Obtaining a Michigan Fishing License

Purchasing a fishing license in Michigan is a straightforward process. You can obtain a license through the following channels:

  1. Online: Visit the Michigan DNR website ( to purchase your fishing license online. This is the most convenient option, allowing you to print your license immediately or have it sent to your mobile device.
  2. Michigan DNR Hunt Fish App: Download the official DNR Hunt Fish app to purchase and store your fishing license on your mobile device.
  3. License Agents: You can also purchase a fishing license from authorized license agents throughout the state. A list of agents is available on the DNR website (
  4. DNR Customer Service Centers: Visit a DNR Customer Service Center in your area to purchase a fishing license in person.

When purchasing a license, you’ll need to provide your personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth. For non-residents, you may also need to provide additional identification documents.

Exceptions and Special Considerations

While the age requirements are straightforward, there are a few exceptions and special considerations to keep in mind:

  • Free Fishing Weekends: Michigan offers two free fishing weekends each year, typically one in the winter (around President’s Day weekend) and one in the summer (the Saturday and Sunday following the first full week of June). During these designated weekends, residents and non-residents can fish without a license.
  • Military Personnel: Full-time, federal, active-duty U.S. military personnel who have maintained resident status in Michigan are exempt from fishing license fees. They must present valid military identification and proof of residency.
  • Veterans with Disabilities: Resident veterans with a 100% disability rating or those deemed individually unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs can obtain a free fishing license.
  • Developmentally Disabled Individuals and Nursing Home Residents: Developmentally disabled individuals or residents of licensed nursing homes can obtain a permit from the DNR to fish without a license if accompanied by an adult with a valid fishing license.

Step-by-Step Guide: Obtaining a Fishing License for Your Child in Michigan

If your child is 17 or older, they will need to obtain a fishing license to legally fish in Michigan’s public waters. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  1. Determine the Type of License Needed: Based on your child’s age and residency status, decide which type of fishing license is appropriate. For example, if your child is a Michigan resident aged 17-64, they will need a Resident Annual Fishing License.
  2. Gather Required Documents: Have your child’s personal information ready, such as their name, address, and date of birth. For non-residents, additional identification documents may be required.
  3. Choose Your Purchase Method: Decide whether you want to purchase the license online, through the DNR Hunt Fish app, from a license agent, or at a DNR Customer Service Center.
  4. Complete the Purchase: Follow the prompts to provide the necessary information and make the payment. Be sure to double-check the details to ensure accuracy.
  5. Print or Save the License: If purchasing online or through the app, you can print the license or save it to your mobile device for easy access during your fishing trips.
  6. Review Fishing Regulations: Before heading out, take the time to review Michigan’s fishing regulations, including open seasons, possession limits, and prohibited fishing methods. Ensure your child understands and adheres to these rules.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your child has the proper fishing license and is prepared for a legal and enjoyable fishing experience in Michigan.

Importance of Following Fishing Regulations

While fishing is a relaxing and enjoyable activity, it’s crucial to follow all fishing regulations set forth by the Michigan DNR. These regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of fish populations and protect the state’s natural resources. Violating fishing regulations can result in fines ranging from $50 to $3,500, or even jail time for severe offenses.

Some key fishing regulations in Michigan include:

  • Adhering to Open Seasons: Each fish species has designated open seasons when they can be legally targeted. Fishing outside of these seasons is prohibited.
  • Observing Daily Possession Limits: Michigan sets daily possession limits for various fish species to prevent overfishing. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these limits and abide by them.
  • Avoiding Prohibited Fishing Methods: Certain fishing methods, such as snagging, using explosives, or poisons, are strictly prohibited in Michigan.
  • Respecting Threatened or Endangered Species: Some fish species in Michigan are classified as threatened or endangered. It’s crucial to identify and avoid targeting these species to protect their populations.
  • Proper Disposal of Litter and Fish Offal: Anglers are responsible for properly disposing of litter and fish offal to maintain the cleanliness and health of Michigan’s waterways.

By familiarizing yourself and your child with the fishing regulations and obtaining the necessary licenses, you can enjoy a legal and responsible fishing experience in Michigan’s beautiful waters.

Engaging Your Child in Fishing: Tips and Advice

Introducing your child to fishing can be a rewarding experience that fosters a love for the outdoors and creates lasting memories. Here are some tips to make the experience enjoyable and educational for your young angler:

  • Start with Age-Appropriate Gear: Invest in a child-sized rod and reel that is lightweight and easy for them to handle. This will make the experience more comfortable and increase their chances of success.
  • Choose Beginner-Friendly Locations: Look for ponds or lakes with a high fish population and easy access. Avoid areas with strong currents or deep waters until your child gains more experience.
  • Teach Proper Techniques: Demonstrate proper casting, baiting, and fish handling techniques to ensure your child’s safety and success.
  • Emphasize Conservation: Use this opportunity to educate your child about the importance of conservation and responsible fishing practices. Encourage catch-and-release when appropriate and explain the role of fishing regulations in protecting fish populations.
  • Make it Fun: Incorporate games, snacks, and other activities to keep your child engaged and prevent boredom. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, to boost their confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Be Patient and Encouraging: Fishing requires patience, and children may lose interest quickly. Remain positive and encouraging, and focus on creating an enjoyable experience rather than solely on catching fish.

By following these tips and fostering a love for fishing at a young age, you can create cherished memories and instill a lifelong appreciation for the great outdoors in your child.


Fishing in Michigan is a cherished tradition that can be enjoyed by anglers of all ages. While children aged 16 and under are not required to obtain a fishing license, those aged 17 and above must purchase a valid license to legally fish in the state’s public waters. By understanding the age requirements, license types, exceptions, and regulations, you can ensure a hassle-free and enjoyable fishing experience while contributing to the conservation efforts that protect Michigan’s aquatic resources for generations to come.

Remember, obtaining a fishing license is not just a legal requirement; it’s also a way to support the management and preservation of Michigan’s diverse fish populations. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can embark on unforgettable fishing adventures with your family, creating lasting memories and fostering a deep appreciation for the great outdoors.

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