A Guide to Getting Your Missouri Fishing License
Jun 11, 2021 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The “Show-Me State” has given the world various authors, musicians, and artists. It is home to the beautiful Ozark Mountains, along with the Gateway Arch, rivers, and steams – big and small. Missourians enjoy their diverse food culture, lots of greenery, and four traditional seasons. They eat well, and they also fish well.

Flag of Missouri against a blue backdrop

Missouri has some of the best Trout fishing in the US. The state is blessed with over 400 lakes, Blue Ribbon fisheries, and a hundred thousand miles of rivers. From the shores of the Missouri River to the Ozarks, there are plenty of freshwater grounds to discover. Before you cast your line, though, you need to get a Missouri fishing license.

Looking for info on neighboring states, or around the US in general? Check out our full list of licensing guides here.

Who needs a Missouri fishing license?

Each year, Missouri’s waterways welcome fishermen from all over the country. The state takes the protection of its natural resources and fish habitats very seriously. You can consider the fee you pay for the Missouri fishing permit as a contribution to valuable state programs, including conservation, education, fishery management, and habitat restoration and protection.

Every angler between the ages of 16 and 64 needs to have a fishing permit before they can legally fish in Missouri. There are different types of permits you can get, depending on your residential status, age, and how long you’d like to fish for. The prices vary accordingly.

Information for Residents

You’re considered a resident of Missouri if you:

  • Are domiciled in the state. If Missouri is your only permanent legal residence, you call it your domicile.
  • Are not domiciled but maintain a permanent place of residence in Missouri and spend more than 183 days a year there.

You might also be considered a Missouri resident if you:

  • Have graduated from a high school in Missouri and have a Missouri address.
  • Have parents (or one of them) who live and work (or are retired) in the state.
  • Are a member of the military services or a military family assigned to active duty in Missouri.
  • Have a spouse working full time in the state.
  • Are a registered student who lives and attends school in Missouri.
  • An immigrant with an I-551 Resident Alien Card from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service with a legal permanent residency in Missouri – and doesn’t reside in another state/country.

Immigrants with an I-551 Resident Alien Card need to have legally lived in the state for at least 30 days before purchasing a license. Non-residents who are registered students need to carry their evidence of a Missouri residency and student status (a student ID is fine) during their fishing trip.

Costs for Residents

Resident License Type Cost
Daily Fishing Permit $8.00
Annual Fishing License $12.00
White River Border Lakes License (this license is also available for Arkansas residents) $10.00
Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit – Youth (0-15) $550.00
Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit – Age 16-29 $800.00
Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit – Age 30-39 $700.00
Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit – Age 40-59 $600.00
Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit – Age 60-64 $70.00
Lifetime Fishing Permit – Youth (0-15) $275.00
Lifetime Fishing Permit – Age 16-29 $400.00
Lifetime Fishing Permit – Age 30-39 $350.00
Lifetime Fishing Permit – Age 40-59 $300.00
Lifetime Fishing Permit – Age 60-64 $35.00
National Guard and Reserve Service Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit $5.00
White River Border Lake Permit (available for residents and residents landowners) $10.00

Information for Non-Residents

All non-residents age 16 and older must purchase either a daily or annual Missouri fishing permit. There are fewer options available than if you are a Missouri resident. For instance, you are not eligible for White River Border Lakes or Lifetime permits. However, non-residents actually pay the same fees for the Daily Fishing Permits as residents. 

Costs for Non-Residents

Non-Resident License Type Cost
Daily Fishing Permit $8.00
Annual Fishing License $49.00

Who can fish without a license?

When it comes to fishing in Missouri, there are some exceptions that allow some anglers to cast a line permit-free. You will still need to purchase a daily Trout fishing tag or Trout permit, though, if you are not fishing on private, licensed Trout-fishing grounds.

Each year, Missouri also has Free Fishing Days, when you don’t need a permit or daily fishing tags.

So, you don’t need to obtain a license if you are:

  • A Missouri resident fishing and residing on land owned by an immediate family member when fishing on their own land or if that land completely encloses a body of water.
  • A Missouri resident aged 65 or older.
  • A resident of Missouriaged 15 or younger and intend to fish with these methods: snagging, snaring, grabbing, crossbow, gig, bow, and pole and line.
  • A wheelchair user who holds a certified statement of eligibility from a licensed physician.
  • A resident with a certified statement of eligibility from a licensed ophthalmologist, optometrist, or physician that confirms your vision problems (such as visual activity in the better eye not exceeding 20/200 or 20 degree or less of visual concentric contraction.)
  • A resident with intellectual disability (as defined in Missouri Revised Statutes) or cerebral palsy, accompanied by a licensed angler.
  • An honorably discharged veteran who was a prisoner of war during service or with a service-related disability of at least 60% (resident or non-resident) with a certified statement of eligibility from the Veterans Administration.

Additional Requirements

Whether you are a resident of Missouri or a guest angler, you will need to buy a Trout Permit. This permit allows you to possess the limits of Trout you catch. You are also required to get this permit for the winter season and when fishing in Lake Taneycomo upstream from the U.S. Highway 65 bridge.

If you fish in Trout parks, such as Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park, you need to get a daily Trout Fishing Tag. 

Additional Requirements Costs for Residents & Non-Residents

Additional Permit Type Cost
Trout Permit – Age 16 and older $10.00
Trout Permit – Youth (0-15) $5.00
Daily Trout Tag – Age 16 and older $4.00
Daily Trout Tag – Youth (0-15) $3.00

Where to Buy Your Missouri Fishing License

There are various ways to obtain a Missouri fishing permit/license, both in person or online. Follow one of these steps and get ready to head out onto the water:

  • Online. You won’t have to leave your home to purchase your permit. All you have to do is go to the MDC website or download the free MO Fishing app to your smartphone, and store your license there.
  • In person. There are a lot of places that sell Missouri fishing licenses in person, from local Department of Conservation offices to licensed vendors such as bait & tackle shops and sports goods stores, and over the counter from permit vendors.
  • Phone: For any information or help you might need at any step of the way of getting your Missouri fishing permit, feel free to call 800-392-4115.

Please note that the Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner (Hunting and Fishing) Permit and Resident National Guard and Reserve Service Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit are not available online or from vendors.

You will need to fill out a special application and send it to the Missouri Department of Conservation, which will need at least 10 days to process it. It can be done online, by calling 573-522-0107 or writing to National Guard Permits, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Follow this link to get a Resident Lifetime Conservation Partner Permit form or click here for a Resident National Guard and Reserve Service Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit form.

What happens if I lose my license?

The optimal way is to get your license online. Simply download the free MO Fishing app to your smartphone, log into your account using the nine-digit Conservation Number that you got with the permit, and you will see a valid electronic version of your Missouri license.

If you bought your license in person and lost it, feel free to buy a replacement permit from any vendor for $2. Any active permit you bought online can be reprinted at home – you can get a free copy here

Do I have to renew my license?

Annual permits expire at the end of February each year. In order to avoid getting a new permit each time, the best option is to use the Permit Auto-Renewal Service. This feature allows you to automatically renew your license for the next year. All you have to do is log in to Manage Your Account on the MDC website and go to “Manage Your Auto-Renewal Settings.”

If you hold a Conservation Permit Card, you won’t need to ever renew it since it never expires. If you lose/destroy it or change your name, you will have to purchase it again.

Trout caught in Missouri

We did our best to cover all you need to get a Missouri fishing permit. If you have any additional questions, the best option would be to get in touch with MDC operators. Leaving us a comment below is another option. Are you ready to head out onto the water? Pack your gear, get your license, book a charter near you, and begin your fishing adventure!

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