Fishing in Minnesota

How Much Is a Fishing License in Minnesota? (Regulations and More)

As its nicknames suggest, Minnesota is a perfect destination for outdoors persons. So whether you call it “the Star of the North” or “The Land of 10,000 Lake,” there is no reason why Minnesota shouldn’t be your next fishing destination. Believe it or not, this state is home to thousands of lakes; Minnesota is home to 11,842 lakes, specifically.

Some of Minnesota’s lakes that have been on my bucket list for years include Red Lake, Lake Leech, and Lake Superior. I have fished the Superior Lake from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, so the idea of experiencing it from Minnesota is still quite intriguing.

Coaster Brook Trout from Lake Superior
Coaster Brook Trout from Lake Superior – Learn how to HERE

My experience fighting some trophy species in Superior Lake has made me curious about exploring the lake from Minnesota’s shores. So after doing thorough research, I decided to compile this guide on everything you need to know about fishing in Minnesota. For more details on the price of Minnesota fishing licenses, please read on.

  • Resident annual adult angling license: $25
  • Non-resident annual adult angling license: $51
  • Non-resident Youth angling license (16-17 years): $5
  • 1-day non-resident fishing license: $14
  • 1-day resident angling license: $12

To learn more, here’s a link to the Minnesota website.

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Minnesota’s Fishing Regulations onto your phone and double check just to be sure you know. Here’s a Shortcut Link to the Regs. PDF πŸ‘‰ Minnesota Fishing Regulations PDF

Does Minnesota Have Free Fishing?

Unlike most states, Minnesota does have several free fishing days that everyone can enjoy. The most popular fishing day is the take your kids ice fishing weekend, from January 14 to 16 in 2023. During this day, residents over 16 can fish for free with kids younger than 16.

Another popular free fishing day for residents with kids is the take-a-kid fishing weekend between June 9 and 11, 2023. So if you missed the January event, you could take advantage of the summer fishing weekend.

For moms, the state has a take-a-mom fishing weekend between May 13 and 14. (3) You can take your mother fishing and make it a family event. Plus, most Minnesota state parks do allow locals to fish for free. You can fish in some of the state parks if:

  • The water body doesn’t require a trout stamp
  • You can fish from the shore in the park
  • You fish from a float, boat, or through the ice on designated lakes within the state parks. (source)

Guide Pro Tip: Wondering where to cast a fly in Missouri? Check out this article. πŸ‘‰ Where to Fly Fish in Minnesota

Can Non-residents Fish for Free Fishing Days?

All the free fishing dates in Minnesota are open to residents, so non-residents will require a license to enjoy fishing in the state parks.

Types of Fishing License in Minnesota

As aforementioned, Minnesota has everything for different types of anglers, but before you cast your line, you need the proper fishing license. Remember, you can fish in some state parks for free, but you will require a valid fishing license for a better experience outside the state parks. Some of the most common fishing licenses include:

Resident Individual Angling Licenses

For the residents, the state has several individual fishing licenses for youth and adults. The youth have an annual license that you can purchase using the code 138. The youth fishing license exempts them from spearing licenses and salmon/ trout stamps. For individuals over 18 years and below 89 years old, the state has an annual fishing license.

The Department of Natural Resources also issues a 3-year license that can be purchased using code 141. But it does run for three consecutive days. For short-term fishing trips, they have 72-hour and 24-hour licenses that exempt you from buying salmon/trout stamps. And if you end up staying longer in Minnesota, then you can buy a new short-term license.

Combination Angling License

Unlike most states, Minnesota does have an excellent option for married couples. Instead of spending more on two licenses, you can go for the Married couple angling license and save some cash. And the good thing about these licenses is you don’t need your partner present every time you go fishing.

There are two combination licenses for a married couple (the annual option and a combination super sports license). A combination married super sport includes two salmon/trout stamps for the couple. The primary licensee also gets a small game stamp like the state waterfowl and pheasant stamps.

Non-resident Individual’s Angling Licenses

The non-residents can purchase their licenses using the code 121, which lets you fish in Minnesota. But the non-residents have to pay a $5 surcharge application fee. For the youth anglers, the state has a license that exempts them from purchasing a spearing license and salmon/trout stamp.

Adult non-residents can use code 121 for an annual non-resident fishing license. For people planning on visiting Minnesota for a maximum of 7 days, the Department of Natural Resources has some short-term licenses. You can get 24 hours, 72 hours, or week-long licenses. These short-term licenses will exempt you from purchasing salmon and trout stamps.

Table of fishing license costs in Minnesota. (source)

Adult annual fishing license (over 18 years)$25$51
Youth angling fishing license (16 and 17 years old)$5$5
24-hour fishing license$12$14
72-hours fishing license$14$36
3-year fishing license$71N/A
Sports annual fishing license$41N/A
Super sports fishing license$100N/A
Walleye stamp validation$5$5
Trout/salmon stamp$10$10
Sturgeon tag$5$5
Spearing annual$6$17
Married combination annual fishing license$40$68
Married Combination Sports$57N/A
Married combination super sport$126N/A
7-day fishing licenseN/A$43

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Minnesota?

Lake Vermillion Minnesota great for fishing
Lake Vermillion Minnesota great for fishing

In Minnesota, you can either purchase the license online or in person. You can get the license through their online purchasing system, that’s available on DNR’s official website. Unfortunately, some anglers have complained that the system has charged them extra or they have not gotten a license after making a purchase. If you don’t get the license, you can contact the DNR license center and ask for assistance.

You can also purchase the license via phone; you must call 1-888-665-4236 (1-MN-LICENSE), and they will assist you. But you’ll be charged 3% per phone transaction, and if the license requires mailing, you’ll have to pay a convenience fee of about $1.50. (source)

Suppose you don’t like making online purchases. In that case, you can opt to get your license from the many licensed vendors all over Minnesota. Minnesota has a list of authorized vendors on its official website that you can access. All you have to do is search for the ones in your area and make your purchase. (source) but make sure you call them and find out if they’re open before leaving the house.

How Much Is a Minnesota Fishing License at Walmart?

The price of the Walmart fishing licenses will match the price at the authorized vendors and the official state’s website. But you may have to pay a processing and printing fee. (source)

Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in Minnesota?

Fishing without a license in some state waters is illegal. You can also be penalized for breaking simple rules like exceeding your possession limit or using the wrong fishing method. Therefore, you must download the fishing regulations by clicking here (3) and going through them to learn more about fishing in Minnesota.

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Minnesota’s Fishing Regulations onto your phone and double check just to be sure you know. Here’s a Shortcut Link to the Regs. PDF πŸ‘‰ Minnesota Fishing Regulations PDF

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Minnesota?

Unless you are exempt, all residents between 16 and 89 years in Minnesota must have a valid fishing license to fish in the state waters. All the non-residents over 16 also need a permit, but the kids under 15 don’t need one if their guardians or parents are licensed. (source)

Discount fishing license for seniors
Discount fishing license for seniors

When Does Minnesota’s Fishing License Expire?

All the annual fishing licenses are valid from March 1 to the end of February of the following year. On the other hand, short-term permits expire at midnight on the last day. For instance, the 7-day license runs for seven consecutive days from the day purchased to midnight of the seventh day.

Can You Fish Without a License in Minnesota?

Yes, other than during free fishing weekends, several state parks let anglers fish for free. But during the other days, only the following anglers can fish without a license:

  • Residents over 90 years old
  • Residents below 16 years
  • Resident military personnel serving outside Minnesota but are on leave.
  • In-patients at the American Veterans Administration hospital
  • Locals have served in active federal service outside the country for over 24 hours.
  • Residents of Minnesota licensed boarding or nursing care homes. (source)

The above residents can explore all the public waters in Minnesota without a license.

Can You Fish on Private Property in Minnesota Without a License?

Usually, the answer to this question is no. Still, in ten American states, including Minnesota, you need a license to fish on private properties. Therefore, everyone over 16 years will require a fishing license, even from the ponds on private properties.

Plus, they must ask for permission and stick to the rules and regulations the property owner sets. Remember, trespassing is still illegal, and you can face prosecution.

What Is the Fine for Fishing Without a License in Minnesota?

Fishing without a license is illegal, and if found, you can end up paying a fine of not less than $100. But if you violate more rules, you can end up serving a jail term of 30 days to a year. (source)

What Is the Fishing Season in Minnesota?

Huge Pike caught fishing
Huge Pike caught fishing – Read about πŸ‘‰ Biggest Pike Ever Caught

General fishing is open all year round in Minnesota. Unfortunately, several spots only allow catch and release technique. In contrast, others only let you carry some fish home during certain times of the year. As much as you can get a place to fish at any given point in Minnesota, it’s always a good idea to find out when the fishing season for specific species starts.

Therefore, before leaving your home, you should find out the fishing season for your target species and plan your schedule correctly. Remember, the dates can vary yearly, so you must get the correct details from the state’s official website.

General Fishing Season

There are several species with no closed fishing season, and they can be found all over the state. But the possession limit will vary with species and location. Some species with a continuous season include white bass, rock bass, sunfish, crappie, smelt, rough fish, bullhead, and perch. Some species available all year round and have no limits include Rough fish and smelt.

Therefore, if your goal is to catch these species, then you can visit Minnesota at any given time of the year and still have fun.

Northern Pike Fishing Season

You can find the northern pike in almost every river and lake in Minnesota. Unfortunately, not every spot is open to northern pike fishing all year round. But the best time to fish is between May 14, 2022, and February 26, 2023.

Remember, the possession limit will vary with the zone. For instance, in the Southern Zone, you can only keep two over 24″ long fish, while in the Northeast Zone, you have to release between 30″ and 40″ long pikes as soon as you catch them.

Sauger and Walleye Fishing Season

In most places, ice fishing for sauger and walleyes runs from early December to March. Still, in Minnesota, you can fish these species between mid-May and February. Plus, the possession limit for a combination of these species is 6. But you should never be found with more than a single walleye that’s over 20″ long.

Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

Fishing for largemouth in all the waters statewide, except the Northeaster Zone, is open from May 14 to May 27 to the public. But you only have to practice catch and release. And from May 28 to February 26, you can carry a combined total of 6 smallmouth/largemouth fish. The Ash and Pelican lakes are open to fishing the bass between May and February.

Fly Fishing for Bass with Poppers
Dream of catching bass? Here’s an article πŸ‘‰ Fly Fishing for Bass with Poppers

Suppose you love to catch and release smallmouth bass. In that case, you should visit Minnesota in May between the 14th and 27th and from September 12 to February 26.

Catfish Fishing Season

Another popular species that can give you a race for your money in Minnesota is the catfish species. Unfortunately, they don’t have the same fishing seasons. For instance, you can harvest channel catfish all year round. At the same time, the flatheads are only open for fishing between April 1 and the end of November.

Trout Fishing Season

In Minnesota, you can harvest lake trout in winter and summer, but the possession limit is usually 2 per bag. The summer season stretches between May 14 and September 30, while the winter season starts in mid-January and ends on March 31.

Nice brown trout caught with a pheasant tail nymph
Nice brown trout caught with a pheasant tail nymph
SpeciesOpening dateClosing date
Trout: summer fishing Winter fishingMay 13 Mid-JanuarySeptember 30 March 31
CatfishApril 1November 30
LargemouthMay 14May 27
SmallmouthMay 14 September 12May 27 February 26
Northern PikeMay 14February 26

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in Minnesota?

The North Star State is known for its vast water bodies, most of which guarantee anglers a great time every time. So whether you’re touring this state in winter or summer, you should carry your fishing gear; the waters are too inviting, and the locals are always ready to assist. In Minnesota, you can catch everything from bass, walleye, and perch to crappie.

But with the significant number of lakes available, picking the right fishing spot can be quite challenging. So, here are some unique spots that you must visit in Minnesota:

Red Lake

Sitting at about 107,800 acres, Red Lake is one of Minnesota’s biggest lakes. This lake is known for crappie and ice fishing. Plus, the anglers that have visited the lake attest that it’s elementary to lure a 40-inch-long pike.

Besides the fishing experience, you can enjoy the many games in the resort region, including RV rentals and campsites, and even hire a fishing guide. Therefore, Red Lake is a perfect place for a family fishing trip.

Snelling Lake

Snelling Lake may be small, but it attracts hundreds of tourists yearly who love shore fishing. Occupying 101 acres, Snelling Lake is home to several fish species like northern pike, pumpkinseed, bluegill, and bass. Plus, you can fish from your paddle boat or canoe in this lake.

For more places to fish in Minnesota, click here.

Can I Fish at Night in Minnesota?

Yes, provided the fishing spot is accessible, you can fish at night, but make sure you’re well prepared. You must wear the right gear and ensure your vessel is well-illuminated without spooking the fish. When fishing at night for walleyes, you should use live bait and make sure you fish when the light is low.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, you can fish with your line attached to the pole, but when the water is not frozen, you’re legally allowed to use a single fishing pole. But when ice fishing, you can use two lines that don’t have to be attached to your fishing pole.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Minnesota if You’re Over 65?

Yes, the residents between 16 and 89 years old must have a valid license to fish in the state-operated waters unless exempted. But anyone past 90 years old doesn’t need a license.   

Looking to Learn the Tips and Techniques for the Fish You Love to Chase? I’ve Got You Hooked Up Below

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  1. Department of Natural Resources staff, Fishing License, accessed January 23, 2023.
  2. Department of Natural Resources staff, Fish for free in most Minnesota state parks, accessed January 23, 2023.
  3. Department of Natural Resources staff, Minnesota Fishing Regulations, accessed January 23, 2023
  4. Department of Natural Resources staff, Online License Sales, accessed January 23, 2023.
  5. Department of Natural Resources staff, Where to buy a license? accessed January 23, 2023.
  6. Adam Roberts, Walmart fishing license Minnesota, accessed January 23, 2023.
  7. Minnesota E-licensing staff, Fishing Licenses, accessed January 23, 2023.
  8. Michigan State University, Minnesota Statutes Annotated. Game and Fish (Ch. 97-102). Game and Fish. Penalties, accessed January 23, 2023.
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