How to Get a Michigan Fishing License

Michigan is a beautiful spot to go fishing. You have over 3000 rivers, 11,000 lakes, and a vast coastline to fish with the Great Lakes.

Requirements for Licensing

For anglers that are over the age of 17, you need a freshwater license. This permits you to fish all the freshwater areas of the state for as long as the license is valid. You can get a permit for as little as 24 hours, or you can get a year-long license. Always keep this license on you when fishing or transporting your fish catch. Any angler over the age of 17 must have a license in the state to fish. A resident is considered anyone that has lived in the state for six months or more. Year-long permits expire on March 31st each year, so be sure to renew your license.

Nonresidents can get a license for 24 hours or 72 hours to fish in the state if you’re going there for a vacation and want to catch fish. Those under the age of 17 don’t need a license to fish in the state. Active duty military personnel only must prove they are in the military to go fishing, and they don’t need a permit. Disabled veterans can also fish without a license provided they live in Michigan.

Getting a Fishing License in Michigan

  • Online – You can apply online and provide the required documentation. You can print it out or carry a copy on your smartphone
  • Vendors – Many retailers sell fishing licenses. You can obtain one at these vendors. Check the state for locations. All you need to provide is proof of residency

Tagged Fish

Some fish are protected, and you can only fish for one Muskie or Sturgeon per year. You have to report your catch if you take one of these fish.

Places to Fish

Obtain a copy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Family Friendly Fishing guide. This provides places that you can fish in Michigan.


Getting a Fishing License in Michigan is easy. Just show your proof of residency. There are excellent areas to fish, and you’re sure to have a good time. Try Kalamazoo River and Silver Lake as those are good locations, too.

Bonus: Top Places To Fish In Michigan

Michigan is a beautiful state known for its rich, natural scenery and hospitable people. Located in the midwestern part of the United States, this vibrant state is home to some of the world’s largest lakes and smaller lakes and rivers. Hence, it should come as no surprise that the state is full of numerous options for fishing.

Here are a few of the best places to fish in Michigan;

  • Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair is a beautiful spot for fishing in Michigan. As a matter of fact, it is amongst the top locations that offer a wide variety of fish species to choose from.

Lake St. Clair lies between Lake Erie and Huron, which are connected via the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. This accessible location has quite a large population of game fish, giant channel catfish, largemouth bass, Muskellunge, smallmouth bass, and other varieties.

  • Saginaw Bay

For the best spots to fish for Walleyes, Saginaw Bay has quite a reputation. Known as one of the nation’s top Walleye fisheries, Saginaw Bay is located on the eastern side of the central peninsula.

Specifically, it lies just at the point where Lake Huron escapes into the Michigan mainland. This basin offers species of fishes like the Walleye, yellow perch, channel catfishes, and smallmouth bass.

  • Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanau is one of the unique locations for fishing in Florida, as it comprises two bodies of water; North Lake Leelanau & South Lake Leelanau.

It lies on the Leelanau peninsula and is over 21 miles in length and 1.5 miles in width. Between both bodies of fresh water, you can fish for vast amounts of Walleye, smallmouth bass, perch, and northern pikes.

  • Hubbard Lake

Hubbard lake is easily the most popular spots for fishing in northeast Michigan. Known for its excellent clarity, this beautiful lake attracts quite many Anglers over time. However, it is best known for having an abundance of Walleyes.

Some other species of fishes include; Lake trout, northern pikes, smallmouth bass, whitefish, and yellow perch.

  • Burt Lake

This natural habitat for Walleye is the 4th largest lake in the state and a small Walleye Fishery. Asides from the native Walleye reproduction, you can find smallmouth bass, average pikes, and deep water trouts in this area.

  • Brimley Bay

Go to the Upper Peninsula, and you’ll find some good boat, pier, and shore fishing here. You can rent a boat at the bay if you don’t have one. Fish include yellow perch, whitefish, bullhead, sunfish, and northern pike. There are plenty of fishing opportunities in this area.

  • Boardman River at Traverse City

This place is a top 10 trout stream in Michigan. There are over 160 miles of the river here as well as the tributary streams. There is a boat launch, and you’ll find rainbow trout, brown trout, and yellow perch here. You’ll also find excellent hiking in the area.

  • Union Lake

Union lake happens to be the 10th largest lake in the country and is located west of Pontiac in Oakland county. Unlike Burt Lake that has a natural reproduction of Walleyes, Union Lake combines natural replenishment and stocking to maintain the number of Walleyes found there.

Additionally, Ice fishing is possible at some point annually because of its clarity.

  • Cold Water Lake

Cold Water lake is known for its abundance in catfish. However, there are other available species in this area, which are largemouth bass and northern pikes.

  • Pinnebog River in Hume Township

This river is short, and it flows from Port Crescent Park and then into Lake Huron. You get a pier and river fishing here. Fish include smallmouth bass, catfish, and carp, among others. There are plenty of picnic tables nearby, so you have a place to relax after your fishing trip.

To Wrap It Up

The lakes in Michigan have been one of the major attractions and relaxation spots for many. So, if you’re in this beautiful state, locate the nearest lake today and have a swell time.


Ken Masterson

My name is Ken Masterson. Growing up in Louisiana, I have been fishing since I was 7 years old. I am happy to share my knowledge with the readers here. Feel free to give me feedback in comments or even reach out at

Recent Content