Minnesota may be known as the “Gopher State,” but it’s fishing that really makes it famous. With its endless lakes, river, and streams, it’s no surprise that an estimated one in four state residents holds a Minnesota fishing license. This guide will help you join them and get on the water in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
Who needs a fishing license in Minnesota?
Any Minnesota resident aged 16–90 is required to carry a license when fishing. Children under 16 and seniors over 90 who live in Minnesota can fish without a license. If you’re from out of state, you always need a license if you’re over 16. This is the same whether you’re fishing on your own or on a charter.
A Minnesota resident is anyone who has officially lived in Minnesota for the past 60 days or longer. You can prove this with a Minnesota State ID or driver’s license. If you’re under 21, you must be the child of a Minnesota resident.
Who doesn’t need a license?
Pretty much everyone needs to get a license. However there are a few situations where MN residents don’t need one. Specifically, the following groups can fish license-free:
- Minnesota residents in the US Armed Forces on leave. You must carry your leave papers with you at all times when fishing.
- Minnesota residents who have been on active duty in the US Armed forces in the last 24 months and have discharge papers.
- Minnesota residents fishing in a State Park.
- In-patients of a US Veterans’ Administration hospital.
- Residents in a Minnesota nursing home or care home.
Resident License Cost
Minnesota residents have a long list of different licenses to choose from. Prices depend on the length and type of license, with extra discounts for married couples. To simplify things, we’ll break them down into short-term, annual, and lifetime licenses.
|Resident License Type||License Cost|
These are the most straightforward. You can choose either a one-day or a three-day permit. The advantage of a 24-Hour License is that it also includes a Trout stamp.
|Resident License Type||Individual Cost||Married Cost|
|Annual Conservation License||$17||$27|
|Annual Sports License||$41||$57|
|Annual Super Sports License||$100||$126|
Longer-term licenses come with a few more options. For starters, married couples can get a hefty discount when buying licenses together. On top of that, there are four different types of licenses to choose from: Regular, Conservation, Sports, and Super Sports.
- Regular: The standard package, with regular MN fishing limits.
- Conservation: Cheaper, but with half the normal fishing limits.
- Sports: A combined fishing and hunting license.
- Super Sports: Hunting, fishing, and a Trout stamp all in one.
Lifetime Fishing Licenses
|Age||Spearing||Fishing||Fishing & Spearing||Sports||Sports & Spearing|
If you’re planning on fishing in Minnesota for the rest of your life, lucky you! You can save a lot of money by buying a Lifetime License. Better still, you can buy a license for a new-born and guarantee them a life of awesome angling at a major discount. Again, there are several options here:
- Spearing: You can only catch fish by spearing through the ice.
- Fishing: You can only catch fish on rod and reel.
- Fishing & Spearing: A combined spearing and fishing license.
- Sports: A combined fishing and hunting license.
- Sports & Spearing: All of the above, rolled into one.
Non-Resident License Cost
Non-residents don’t get anywhere near as many options when it comes to buying a fishing license. Instead, you can choose from a few different packages designed with tourists in mind. Don’t worry, you can also get a lifetime license if you’re planning on spending a lot of time here.
Short-term and Annual Licenses
|Non-Resident License Type||license Cost|
|14-Day Married License||$54|
|Family Annual License||$69|
Depending on how long you’re visiting for, you can buy a license for one, three, or seven days. Married couples can also scoop up a discount on a 14-Day License. Families get a discount on annual permits, which cover two adults and one child.
Non-Resident Lifetime Licenses
Non-residents can also take advantage of a lifetime fishing license, but at a higher price. There’s no option for the spearfishing or hunting privileges for people from out-of-state, unfortunately. But once you’re registered, you’re signed up for life!
We’re nearly done, we promise. There are a couple of species that require a stamp or tag. On top of that, you need an additional permit to set up a shelter on the ice.
Fish Stamps and Tags
Super Sports and 24-hour licenses include a Trout Stamp. Other than that, you’ll need an additional stamp to fish for Trout and Sturgeon – and you’re welcome to make a contribution towards a Walleye stamp if you want to help protect the species. These tags are priced the same for residents and non-residents, and you can opt for a hard copy in the mail for an additional 75¢.
Ice Shelter Licenses
|Resident 1-Year (Rental)||$30|
|Resident 3-Year (Rental)||$87|
You don’t need an additional license to ice fish. However, you do need a “Shelter License” to set up a dark house or other fixed shelter. Resident Shelter Licenses last either for one or three years and the cost depends on whether you own or are renting the shelter. Non-resident Shelter Licenses last either a week or a year and are always the same price.
What counts as a “fixed shelter?” Simple, anything that doesn’t fold or collapse for transport. That being said, if you leave a foldable shelter unattended at night, you also need a Shelter License.
Where to Buy a Minnesota Fishing License
There are plenty of ways to buy your MN fishing license. Try any of the following to grab your license and get on the water:
- Online: You can get your license from the comfort of your own home within minutes. Print it out and you’re good to go fishing!
- By phone: Call 1-888-MN-LICEN (665-4236). The trained operators of the Minnesota DNR are available 24/7 and will help you get your license by phone.
- In person: Visit any DNR office or licensed retailer. Try your local Walmart, hardware store, or bait and tackle store to get your license there and then.
You can purchase all your stamps and tags in the same way. However, expect a wait of 5–10 working days before the Sturgeon Tags arrive by mail. Card payments will be charged an extra 3% and you’ll have to pay a $1.65 fee if you’d like your license by mail. Other than that, all you’ll need is some form of ID and your social security number.
Common Questions about MN Fishing Licenses
- When should I renew my Minnesota fishing license?
Late February. Even if you have a lifetime fishing license, you’ll need to renew your license every fishing season. The fishing season runs from March 1, so make sure to get a new copy of your license by the end of February to keep fishing. If you have an annual license, you should also renew before the last day of February for the following year.
- What happens if I lose my fishing license?
Get a replacement. The quickest way to get a new one is to print it out online. You can also call up, head to your local DNR office, or mail an application to the head office in St. Paul.
- Do I need a license if I'm in a boat with people fishing but I’m not fishing?
Theoretically, no. You only need a license if you're fishing. However, it can sometimes be hard to prove you're not fishing, and even touching a rod technically counts. You should be fine, but if it's a small boat or you're helping out in any way, it's best to get a license.
- Can I buy a stamp or tag if I already got my license?
Yes. You buy Trout Stamps, Sturgeon Tags, or Shelter Licenses separate from your license. Just make sure you have your license number when you go to buy one.
- Can I upgrade an individual license to a family/married one?
No. Unfortunately, you can't upgrade or trade in a solo license. You'll need to buy a new one or wait until next year.
- Do I need a license to fish on private property?
It depends. If the body of water is entirely enclosed in private property, you don't need a license. If not, you do. For example, ponds on private land don't require a license, but rivers running through it do.
We’ve tried to cover everything, but if you still have questions it’s best to get in touch with your local DNR office. Hopefully, you’re now ready to grab your rod, find a guide near you, and start fishing!