Fishing in Missouri

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

Missouri is an exceptional destination for outdoor lovers. It has excellent places for hiking in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors or in spring. But do you know that it has some of the best fishing spots in the Midwestern region? Besides its unique natural ponds and lakes for swimming, this state boasts some of the world’s best fishing destinations.

Fly Fishing for Bass with Poppers
Read my article on catching bass with a fly rod πŸ‘‰ Fly Fishing for Bass with Poppers

It has several reservoirs populated by a thriving population of smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, flathead, and crappie. It is home to over 350 rivers and lakes. And one of the places that I love exploring is the Mississippi River around Sulphur Springs.

I love pursuing catfish, and the Mississippi River is one of the best places where I have experienced the best fights. My experience at the Mississippi River made me curious, forcing me to research what the state offers. And my research caused me to add places like Table Rock Lake to my list of places to visit; after all, I enjoy fishing bass. After researching, I compiled the following guide on Missouri fishing licenses. So let’s drop in a line and see what we can find.

  • Annual resident fishing license: $12.00
  • Annual non-resident fishing license: $49.00
  • Daily resident’s fishing license: $8.00
  • Daily non-residents fishing licenses: $8.00
  • Lifetime conservation seniors permit (age 60 to 64): $70.00

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

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Missouri’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‘‰ Missouri Fishing Regulations PDF

Does Missouri Have Free Fishing?

Yes, Missouri has free fishing days when everyone can fish in the state waters. The free fishing weekend is usually the Saturday and Sunday after the first Monday of June. You won’t need a prescribed region daily tag and trout permit during the free fishing weekend.

But user permits and fees will still apply at the private, city, or county fishing areas. But the usual fishing regulations like daily and size limits will still apply. (source) Some conservation areas offering free fishing have free fishing gear that people can use.

The Area Free Fishing Days programs hold several events between April and June that you can typically find here. So you can check and confirm when their next free fishing event will be held and include it in your schedule.

Summertime Bluegills on a Fly Rod
Summertime Bluegills on a Fly Rod πŸ‘ˆ Read about tossing flies in the summertime to ‘gills

Can Non-residents Fish for Free on Free Fishing Days in Missouri?

Residents and non-residents can explore the state waters without a license during free fishing days. So you can either pack your gear or rent one and find out what Missouri offers this weekend.

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

Types of Fishing License in Missouri

Everyone needs a permit to cast their lines in all the state waters. Each of them will have your picture, which the agents can use to confirm that you’re using your valid license. And if you haven’t received it by mail, you should carry your picture ID and permit authorized number until you receive it. The officials can use the permit number to confirm if it’s valid.

Fortunately, the state does have a wide range of fishing licenses that vary with duration and price. Remember, there are annual, short-term, and lifetime fishing licenses. Some of the most common types of licenses include:

Daily Permits

To cater to folks planning on fishing in Missouri for a day or two, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has some daily fishing permits. Unlike some states that specify the duration of the short-term licenses, Missouri offers a daily permit, so you can purchase one every morning while exploring the state’s waters.

The daily fishing permits are for both residents and non-residents visiting Missouri. This permit lets you catch clams, mussels, frogs, fish, live bait, and crayfish. Plus, the fact that you can purchase it for a couple of days is a bonus.

Annual Fishing Permit

If you love fishing in this state, you can save some cash and purchase an annual option valid for a year. But even with a yearly option, you will still have to follow several rules and regulations set by the MDC. Remember, the fishing method and limit will vary with fishing area, season, and species. Plus, the MDC has an annual fishing license for residents and non-residents.

With the annual fishing license, you can catch frogs, crayfish, turtles, clams, and mussels, among others. (source)

Lifetime Conservation Partner Permits

Discount fishing license for seniors
Discount fishing license for seniors

This combo permit has the same privileges as the conservation order permit, migratory bird hunting license, trout permit, and resident fishing and hunting permit. Remember, it’s a lifetime combo permit for residents only and lets them fish and hunt for life. But you will require a federal duck stamp for catching waterfowl.

Unfortunately, you can’t purchase it at the permit vendors or online; you must use an order form when requesting one. The price of this license will vary with age as follows:

  • Youth (below 15 years): $550.00
  • 16-29 years old anglers: $800.00
  • 30 to 39 years old anglers: $700
  • 40 to 59 years old angles: $600
  • 60 to 64-year-old anglers: $70.00 (source)

Lifetime Fishing License (Residents Only)

The lifetime fishing-only permit has the same privileges as the resident trout permit and fishing license. The only difference is that it lets you fish for a lifetime; unfortunately, it’s only available to residents. And like the other lifetime license, you can’t find this permit at the vendors or online. You can apply for one using the lifetime fishing and hunting permit ordering form.

Remember, residents over 65 years get exempted from purchasing a fishing permit. Still, they can use this license as a lifetime trout permit. The cost of these licenses is as follows:

  • Youth under 15 years of age: $275
  • Age 16 to 29 years old anglers: $400
  • 30 to 39 years old anglers: $350
  • 40 to 59 years old residents: $300
  • 60 to 64 years old resident anglers: $35 (source)
How to Fly Fish for Brown Trout
Read about how I catch brown trout with a fly rod in this article πŸ‘‰ How to Fly Fish for Brown Trout

Trout Permit

Anyone planning on catching trout while in Missouri must purchase this permit. You can only get exempted from this license when fishing at the trout parks, where you will require a daily trout fishing tag. (source)

Trout permits are mandatory all year round in trout parks and Lake Taneycomo. The price of these permits is:

  • Youth (below 15 years): $5.00
  • Non-residents: $10.00
  • Residents: $10.00
Type of licenseResidentNon-resident
Daily fishing license$8.00$8.00
Fishing permit$12.00$49.00
Lifetime conservation partner permit (16 to 29 years old)$800.00N/A
Lifetime fishing license (16 to 19 years old)$400.00N/A
Small game hunting and fishing permit$19.00N/A
Trout permit$10.00$10.00
White River Border lakes license$10.00$10.00

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Missouri?

Generally, there are several places where you can get a license. You can purchase one at the local MDC department offices or from vendors selling fishing and hunting equipment. But suppose you don’t have time to visit the local vendor’s premises or the department offices. In that case, you can purchase your license online using this link.

When purchasing your license online, you’ll start opening or updating your account if you already have one. Next, login, select the licenses and permits you need, and pay for them using your MasterCard or Visa.

You can also purchase it via telephone. All you have to do is call 800-392-4115 and pay using your credit card. But with this method, you’ll have to pay $1 for the services. And then wait for about ten days for the permit to reach your premises. (source)

How Much Is a Missouri Fishing License at Walmart?

Generally, the cost of fishing permits at Walmart is the same as the WDC’s website and vendors. But you may have to pay a processing fee of about 50 cents.

Where Can I Get the Fishing Regulations in Missouri?

Like every other American state, Missouri waters have rules and regulations everyone must follow. Breaking them can result in license suspension or a hefty fine. To avoid the penalty, you should download the official fishing regulations and go through them before leaving your home. To access the Missouri fishing regulations, you should click here.

Guide Pro Tip: Download a FREE copy of the Missouri’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‘‰ Missouri Fishing Regulations PDF

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Missouri?

In Missouri, residents between 16 and 64 years old must have a license to fish in the state waters. The over 65 years old and the youth below 15 can fish for free without a license. On the other hand, all over 16 years old non-residents must have a permit to fish in Missouri.

When Does a Missouri Fishing License Expire?

All the annual fishing licenses in Missouri expire at the end of February every year. Remember, they’re valid for 12 months, so if you want to use your license for the entire year, you should purchase it in March. On the other hand, the short-term options have a set expiry date. (source) The 1-day licenses are valid for 24 hours.

Can You Fish Without a License in Missouri?

Besides free fishing days, every resident angler between 16 and 64 needs a license to fish in the state waters. On the other hand, the resident seniors over 65 years old and the kids below 15 years can fish for free all year round. But the seniors will require a trout permit.

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

Missouri has several exemptions, but the only people allowed to fish without a license on private land are the land owner and immediate household. But the resident owner needs to own over 5 acres for their family to be exempt. Everyone else will require a license and permission from the owner.

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

Fishing without a license is illegal; you will have to pay a hefty fine if caught. A Missouri resident will face a fine of $43.50, while a non-resident will pay $76.50. (source)

What Is the Fishing Season in Missouri?

Generally, fishing is open all year round in Missouri, so you can find a place to fish. Several species have no closed season but a meager possession limit. Some species are usually open to catch-and-release fishing. So, if you don’t mind not carrying some fish home, then Missouri can be a fun place to visit.

But if you’re not into general fishing, you should visit to find out the open season for some species. Plus, some species may have an open season, but the only method allowed is catch-and-release. Some of the most common fishing seasons in Missouri include:

General Fishing Season

Several species are open to fishing all year round in several water bodies in Missouri. Some of the species that anglers can fish all year round in this state include catfish. You can harvest the blue, flathead, and channel catfish. Plus, there is no length limit that you have to follow.

Other species with an annual season include Northern pike, muskellunge, crappie, pickerel, shovelnose sturgeon, and walleye. Anglers can also fish the different types of bass (striped, yellow, and white) all year round in most public waters in Missouri.

Favorite Flies for Catching Pike
Favorite Flies for Catching Pike

Trout Fishing Season

You will find trout in Missouri water bodies, including Maramec Spring Park and Montauk States Park. Unfortunately, these parks have different fishing seasons; some hardcore anglers can still do winter trout fishing.

At the Maramec Spring Park, the trout fishing season starts on March 1 and ends on October 31. But trout fishing is open all year round in the other streams in Missouri.

Paddlefish Fishing Season

Generally, the paddlefish season in Missouri is between March 15 and April 30. But in River Mississippi, anglers can catch paddlefish from March 15 to May 15 and between September 15 and December 15.

Black Bass Fishing Season

You can catch different bass species in Missouri streams and rivers all year round. But for most of the streams south of the Missouri River, the bass fishing season is usually between May and the end of February.

SpeciesOpening dateClosing date
General fishingJanuary 1December 31
Trout fishingMarch 1October 31
Paddlefish fishingMarch 15 September 15May 15 December 15
Black Bass FishingMay 1February

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Fish in Missouri?

Missouri is home to hundreds of beautiful fishing spots with more than enough fish for everyone. In fact, -it’s home to some of the biggest trophy fish you can ever find. After all, the brown trout holding the state record for the biggest trout ever caught missed the world record by a few pounds. This fish was caught near Fall Creek and weighed over 40 pounds.

Other places can practically guarantee a trophy catch all over the state, but without proper planning and knowing where and when to look for them, you might never catch a trophy fish. You may waste an entire weekend fishing without catching a trophy fish; therefore, proper preparation is mandatory.

So here are a few places that can guarantee you a great weekend and some colossal fish:

Mississippi River

Besides being the second longest river in the continent, it has some unique fishing opportunities. And the good news is that it does pass through Missouri, so you can explore these opportunities and catch a trophy catfish.

I have caught a few giant catfishes near Sulphur Springs. Still, if you are after other species, you should try fishing between the Chain of Rocks Canal and the McKinley Bridge. Here you’ll find a vast population of white bass and catfish, among other fish species.

Truman Lake

It is known for offering exceptional fishing opportunities in summer, making it a must-visit destination. It is one of the best places to catch crappie and bass during the hot months.

This lake also gets stocked with a massive population of flathead, blue, and channel catfish. So dismissing this gem can be a bad idea; after all, a survey by the MDC confirmed that the crappie in the region was between 10 and 11 inches long. The spotted bass makes up over 30% of the bass population in Truman Lake.

Table Rock Lake

Another place that ranks among the best places for bass fishing in the United States is Table Rock Lake. Therefore, it is the best place to catch smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass in Missouri. You can catch the huge ones in the shallow waters near the lake’s dam. If you’re looking for white carp, you should fish near the lake’s docks.

For more details on where to fish in Missouri, click here.

Can I Fish at Night in Missouri?

Unless otherwise stated, there is no law against fishing at night in Missouri. Provided the water is accessible, then you can fish at night. Night fishing is quite common at Table Rock Lake. And folks who have tried night fishing at this lake have had a great experience; after all, it is less crowded at night. Plus, some species prefer looking for food at dawn and dusk.

But make sure you’re well prepared for the weather, and if using a vessel, make sure it’s well illuminated. Remember, bright light can scare the fish away.

Catching Bass
Catching Bass wondering what gear is needed to fly fish for bass? Find out πŸ‘‰ HERE

How Many Fishing Rods Can I Have in Missouri?

Besides the Mississippi River, anglers can use up to three poles simultaneously. At the Mississippi River, you can only use two rods.

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

No, all the senior anglers over 65 years old can fish for free in all public waters in Missouri.

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

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Fishing Permits, accessed January 30, 2023.
  2. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Free Fishing Days, accessed January 30, 2023.
  3. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) permit (resident only) accessed January 30, 2023.
  4. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Lifetime Fishing Permit (Resident Only) accessed January 30, 2023.
  5. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Trout Permit, accessed January 30, 2023.
  6. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Permits, accessed January 30, 2023.
  7. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, A Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, accessed January 30, 2023.
  8. Missouri Department of Conservation staff, Time to buy MDC 2022 annual hunting and fishing permits, accessed January 30, 2023.
  9. Missouri Department of Conservation Tickets, Fines and Costs, accessed January 30, 2023.
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