Are you gearing up to fish Michigan’s abundant lakes, rivers, and streams in 2024? Before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements. This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about obtaining a Michigan fishing license, including fees, regulations, and helpful tips to ensure a hassle-free experience.

In this article, we’ll dive into:

  1. Who needs a fishing license in Michigan
  2. Types of fishing licenses and fees
  3. How and where to purchase a license
  4. Important 2024 fishing season dates
  5. New regulations for the 2024 season
  6. Fishing license exemptions and discounts

By the end, you’ll be fully equipped with the knowledge to legally fish Michigan’s waters and enjoy the state’s world-class angling opportunities.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Michigan?

In Michigan, anyone 17 years or older must purchase a fishing license to fish in public waters. This requirement applies to both residents and non-residents. If you’re under 17, you can fish without a license but must follow all fishing rules and regulations.

Do Kids Need a Fishing License in Michigan
Do Kids Need a Fishing License in Michigan

A license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles. Whether you’re fishing the Great Lakes, inland lakes and streams, or want to try your hand at underwater spearfishing – one license covers it all.

Types of Michigan Fishing Licenses and Fees

Michigan offers several types of fishing licenses to accommodate different needs and budgets:

Annual Licenses

  • Resident All-Species: $26
  • Non-Resident All-Species: $76
  • Senior All-Species (65+ or legally blind): $11
  • Youth Voluntary All-Species (under 17): $2

Short-Term Licenses

  • 24-Hour All-Species (resident or non-resident): $10
  • 72-Hour All-Species (resident or non-resident): $30

Combination Licenses

  • Resident Hunt/Fish Combo: $76
  • Non-Resident Hunt/Fish Combo: $266
  • Senior Hunt/Fish Combo (65+): $43

All licenses include a $1 surcharge to fund education on the benefits of hunting and fishing in Michigan.

How to Purchase a Michigan Fishing License

You have several convenient options to buy your 2024 Michigan fishing license:

  1. Online at the Michigan DNR E-License website. You can print out your license or download a PDF to your mobile device.
  2. Mobile App – Download the “Michigan DNR Hunt Fish” app for iOS or Android to purchase and store licenses on your phone.
  3. In Person – Visit a local DNR Customer Service Center or authorized license retailer, like Walmart, Meijer, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or many bait and tackle shops. Over 1,400 license agents are available throughout the state.

To complete your purchase, you’ll need to provide identification and proof of residency if applying for resident licenses. For added convenience, consider enabling auto-renewal for future licenses.

2024 Michigan Fishing Seasons

Michigan offers incredible fishing opportunities year-round. However, many species have defined seasons:

  • Statewide Trout Opener: Last Saturday in April
  • Lower Peninsula Walleye, Pike, Muskellunge Opener: Last Saturday in April
  • Upper Peninsula Walleye, Pike, Muskellunge Opener: May 15
  • Catch-and-Immediate-Release Bass: Open all year
  • Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass Possession Season: Varies by location, typically late May through December

Except in certain waters with spawning closures. Always check current regulations.

New Regulations for 2024

The Michigan DNR has implemented some notable changes for the 2024 fishing season:

Inland Fishing Guide License

Starting March 1, 2024, fishing guides operating on inland waters (except the Great Lakes and connecting waters) must obtain a 3-year inland fishing guide license and submit monthly catch reports to the DNR. This new requirement aims to improve fisheries management and conservation efforts.

Stream Trout Limits

On certain Type 3 and 4 streams, the daily possession limit for rainbow trout over 20 inches has been reduced from 2 to 1 fish to protect larger trout. Affected streams include the Betsy, Pere Marquette, Manistee, Muskegon, Prairie, and Rogue rivers.

Great Lakes Trout & Splake Limits

The daily possession limit for lake trout and splake has been combined for the Great Lakes and connecting waters. Depending on location, the limit ranges from 2 to 5 fish in total. In northern Lake Huron, the limit has increased from 2 to 3 fish.

As regulations may change, always review the current Michigan Fishing Guide for the latest information on seasons, possession limits, size restrictions, and stream designations before heading out.

Fishing License Exemptions and Discounts

In some cases, anglers can fish Michigan waters without a license:

  • Youth under age 17 can fish without a license
  • Free Fishing Weekends – Twice per year, Michigan waives all license fees for residents and non-residents. Summer dates are always the Saturday and Sunday after the first full week of June. Winter dates coincide with the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day weekend in February.
  • Active Military – Michigan residents in full-time active duty U.S. military service can obtain hunting and fishing licenses at no cost when providing proof of military status.
  • Legally Blind – Legally blind Michigan residents are eligible for a senior fishing license at a discounted rate of $11.


Obtaining your 2024 Michigan fishing license is a simple yet essential step to enjoy the state’s incredible angling resources legally and responsibly. By staying informed on the latest requirements, fees, and regulations, you’ll be ready to make lasting memories on the water.

Remember, your fishing license dollars directly support conservation, habitat protection, stocking programs, and access improvements that benefit Michigan’s fisheries and outdoor recreation for generations to come.

So whether you’re chasing trophy salmon on Lake Michigan, fly fishing for trout on a pristine stream, or teaching your child to catch their first bluegill – make sure you’re covered with a valid 2024 fishing license before you make that first cast. 

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