Are you itching to throw in a catch in one of Michigan’s many lakes, rivers, or streams, but not sure where to get your fishing license? I live in Michigan and am an active fisherman, so I know how exciting it can be to plan a trip, but I also know how confusing it can be to figure out the licensing process. I’ll take you through the easy process of obtaining your Michigan fishing license online in this in-depth tutorial, allowing you to concentrate on bringing in your next big catch.

Step 1: Understanding the Requirements

Before you begin the process of obtaining your Michigan fishing license, it’s essential to understand who needs one and what exceptions may apply.

  • Residents and Non-Residents: All anglers aged 17 and older must have a valid fishing license to fish in Michigan’s waters, regardless of residency status.
  • Minors: If you’re under 17, you can fish without a license but must follow all fishing rules and regulations.
  • Active Military and Veterans: Fishing license fees are waived for Michigan residents who are full-time active-duty military or 100% disabled veterans.

It’s important to note that a fishing license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and reptiles in Michigan’s public waters.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Type of License

Michigan offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different angling needs and budgets. Consider factors such as your residency status, age, and the duration of your fishing plans when selecting your license.

License TypeResident CostNon-Resident CostValidity
Annual$26$76March 1 – March 31 of the following year
24-Hour (Daily)$10$1024 hours from the chosen start time
Senior Annual (65+)$11N/AMarch 1 – March 31 of the following year
Youth Annual (Voluntary)$2$2March 1 – March 31 of the following year

Includes a $1 surcharge for conservation and education programs.

Step 3: Preparing Necessary Documentation

To ensure a smooth online purchase process, gather the following documents and information beforehand:

  • Valid ID: Have your Michigan driver’s license, state ID, or DNR Sportcard ready.
  • Personal Information: Know your full name, date of birth, address, and phone number.
  • Payment Method: Have a credit or debit card handy for online payment.

Step 4: Navigating the Online Purchase Process

Michigan DNR Website
Michigan DNR Website

Now that you have your documents ready, let’s walk through the steps to purchase your fishing license online via the MDNR website.

  1. Visit the MDNR Online Store at
  2. Click on the “Purchase a License” button.
  3. Sign in with your existing account or create a new one by providing your personal information and ID details.
  4. Select the type of fishing license you need from the available options.
  5. Follow the prompts to enter your payment information and complete the transaction.
  6. After your purchase is confirmed, you can print your license or save it to your mobile device for easy access.

Step 5: Using the MDNR Hunt Fish Mobile App

The MDNR Hunt Fish mobile app offers a convenient way to purchase and store your fishing licenses on your smartphone.

  1. Download the MDNR Hunt Fish app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Open the app and sign in with your existing account or create a new one.
  3. Tap on the “Purchase License” option in the main menu.
  4. Select the fishing license you need and follow the prompts to complete your purchase.
  5. Your digital license will be stored within the app, allowing you to access it even without an internet connection.

The MDNR Hunt Fish app also provides access to helpful resources like fishing guides, maps, and weather information.

Step 6: In-Person Purchase Options

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

  • Authorized Retailers: Visit local bait shops, sporting goods stores, or major retailers like Walmart and Meijer.
  • MDNR Customer Service Centers: Stop by an MDNR office during regular business hours.
  • License Agents: Use the MDNR License Agent Locator to find a nearby location.

When purchasing in person, bring a valid government-issued ID and your payment method.

Step 7: Understanding License Expiration and Renewal

Keep track of your fishing license expiration date to ensure you’re always fishing legally.

  • Annual Licenses: Valid from March 1 of the current year through March 31 of the following year.
  • 24-Hour (Daily) Licenses: Valid for 24 hours from the chosen start time.

You can easily renew your license online, through the MDNR Hunt Fish app, or at authorized retailers. Consider setting up automatic renewal to avoid any lapses in your licensing.


Obtaining your Michigan fishing license online is a quick and straightforward process. By understanding the requirements, choosing the right license type, and following the step-by-step instructions for the MDNR website or mobile app, you’ll be ready to hit the water in no time. Remember to stay informed about fishing regulations, keep your license up to date, and, most importantly, enjoy your time on Michigan’s incredible waters.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge to secure your fishing license online, it’s time to grab your gear and start planning your next angling adventure in the Great Lakes State.

Can I renew my license automatically?

Yes, when purchasing your license online, you have the option to automatically renew it for the following year. This convenient feature ensures you never have to worry about your license expiring unexpectedly.

What if I lose my license?

If you lose your license, don’t panic! Contact the DNR’s Help Desk at 517-284-6057, and they will guide you through the process of retrieving your permit and getting back on the water as soon as possible.

Can I use my Michigan license in other states?

No, your Michigan fishing license is only valid within the state’s boundaries. If you plan to fish in other states, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate licenses for those locations. Many states offer reciprocal agreements, so be sure to check before your trip.

Are there any discounts available?

Yes, full-time active-duty U.S. military personnel who have maintained Michigan residency can obtain fishing licenses free of charge by providing proof of their military status.

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