Minnesota has its share of lakes richly populated by various fish species. Jessie Lake teems with walleyes, crappie, jumbo perch and smallmouth and largemouth bass. Cass Lake is famous for its muskies. Cutfoot Sioux Lake is the most popular fishing spot in the areas as it is the spawning area for big, great walleyes. Fishing is an enjoyable outdoor sports recreation but before planning a fishing trip, it is best to get a Minnesota fishing license first and read up on current fishing laws.

Purchasing a Minnesota fishing license is easy and convenient through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website or by phone. For those who wish to but their personally, there are legitimate fishing license agents by way of sporting goods store and tackle shop all over Minnesota.

It is highly advised that a responsible angler read the current fishing rules and regulations before settling for a short or extended fishing trip. These laws and rules are strictly observed so as to protect the interest of the fish population. Fishing rules and regulations may be updated from time to time based on current assessment of the general fish populations.

The waterways of Minnesota are richly populated with fish through the efforts of state biologists and scientists of the fisheries department. They plan and execute the preservation and conservation of the many varieties of fish in the lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in Minnesota. As concerned citizens, everyone must do his part in the conservation of the natural resources.

Minnesota is blessed with bountiful lakes, and that is the reason why it is one of the most popular destinations when it comes to ice fishing. Known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota will not run out of a fishing site for those who want to enjoy the fun and excitement of catching trout and salmon. Graced by Lake Superior on its northeastern border, it’s really not surprising that at least one in every four state residents holds a Minnesota license. 

However, fishing can only be eternally fun if we fish responsibly. Hence, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designed rules and regulations to make sure that anglers will not exploit its water resources. The first and one of the most important of these regulations are requiring anglers to secure a fishing license before they can legally fish in the rich waters across the entire state.

Learn about the different types of licenses in Minnesota, how to purchase them, and other fishing regulations observed in the state, and you are good to go to harvest the catch of your dream in the Land of 10,000 Lakes!

Who is required to purchase a Minnesota Fishing License?

As earlier mentioned, most anglers, with the exemption of some, are required to possess a Minnesota Fishing License before they are allowed to fish in its waters. In particular, a Minnesota resident between the age of 16 years old and 90 years old is required to purchase a fishing license. Children under 16 and seniors over 90 are exempted. It is important to understand that a “resident” is defined as someone who has resided in the state of Minnesota, officially, for the past 16 days or longer. Proof of residency may be required when purchasing a license like any state-issued ID card, including a driver’s license. A person under 21 years old is only considered a Minnesota resident if he or she is a child of a Minnesota resident. 

Meanwhile, all non-resident anglers beyond the age of 16 years old are required to purchase a non-resident Minnesota Fishing License before they are allowed to go to the waters and catch fish. 

Who is exempted from purchasing a Minnesota Fishing Licenses? 

Several exemptions are adopted by the state of Minnesota in implementing its license requirements. If you qualify in any of these cases, then you are allowed to fish in the waters of the state without a license legally:

  • A Minnesota resident in the US Armed Forces on leave. You must carry your leave papers with you at all times when fishing.
  • A Minnesota resident who has been on active duty in the US Armed forces in the last 24 months and his discharge papers.
  • In-patients of US Veterans’ Administrative Hospitals.
  • Residing in a Minnesota nursing home or care home.

If you meet any of these qualifications, then you must obtain a FREE license before fishing in the lakes of Minnesota. 

Where to buy a Minnesota Fishing License?

There are different ways of procuring a fishing license in Minnesota. You can try any of these methods, whichever is more convenient for you: 

  • Online: Get your license in the comfort of your own home with only a few clicks of your finger. Just log in to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website to purchase a fishing license online. 
  • By Phone: You can also call the MN DNR through the toll-free number 1-888-MN-LICEN (665-4236). Trained operators will be able to assist you 24/7 and process your fishing license orders through the phone. 
  • In Person: You also can visit any DNR office or licensed retailers such as Walmart, hardware store, or bait and tackle store by the water and get your license there and then. 

Different Types of Fishing Licenses in Minnesota

As already laid out in this article, residents and non-residents are required to purchase a fishing license before they are allowed to catch fish in any of the fishing locations in Minnesota. These licenses vary depending on the purpose, and their prices are graded on a sliding scale depending on the length of the license. Here’s a summary of the different fishing licenses you can procure from the state of Minnesota and how much they cost: 




24-Hour License



72-Hour License



7-Day License



14-Day Married License



Annual License



Married Annual License



Family Annual License



3-Year License



Annual Conservation License



Married Conservation License



Annual Sports License



Married Sports License



Annual Super Sports License



Married Super Sports License



Both residents and non-residents can purchase an annual Fishing License, which would allow them to fish in the waters of Minnesota. The cost of the Annual Fishing License is $25.00 (residents) and $51.00 (non-residents). A 72-hour license is also available for $14 (residents) and $43.00 (non-residents). Furthermore, residents who are married can also purchase a Married Annual License for only $40.00 for both spouses to enjoy fishing in its waters. Conversely, non-residents can opt to purchase an annual Family License, which grants both spouses as well as all their children under the age of 16 the right to fish in the state. This license costs $68.00. If you and your family are not planning on fishing in Minnesota the whole year round, you also have the option to purchase a 14-Day Married License for $54.00. Other special licenses include the Annual Conservation License, Married Conservation License, Sports License, and Super Sports License. 

Lifetime Licenses

Minnesota also offers the chance for anyone to procure a lifetime license. This license will guarantee a lifetime’s fishing from the day you were born, with a sliding price scale once again. The good news is that this is not only available to residents as non-residents can also avail of some of the Lifetime Licenses package offered by the state. Below is a matrix of the different fishing licenses that a resident or non-resident can avail for a lifetime. Please note that a Lifetime License needs to be renewed every fishing season that starts from March 1 to February 28/29 the following year. 




Fishing License


Sports License




























Daily Fishing Limits and other important fishing regulations 

Much like any other state, Minnesota imposes certain limits on fishing and catching in its waters. These limits are imposed in order to make sure that the state maintains a healthy fish population. It is important to read and understand about the different fishing limits and possession limits imposed by the state in order to avoid violating local laws. Please download the updated  Minnesota Fishing Regulation Guidebook to learn more about the different regulations, rules, and laws observed within the state. A download link is provided below: 

Minnesota Fishing Regulations Guidebook 2019

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What are conservation licenses? 

Conservation licenses are special types of licenses that are only available to residents. This license grants licensee access to fish in the waters of Minnesota but the daily and possession limits are half of what can be taken with a standard angling license.

Fractions are rounded down to the next whole number. • People bowfishing, spearing, or using other approved harvest methods under a Conservation License are limited to one half of the daily and possession limit for that method.

Q: Do I need a license to fish in Minnesota State Parks?

Minnesota residents may fish without a license for any species except trout when:

  • Shore fishing or wading on state-owned land within a state park.
  • Fishing from a boat or on the ice on water bodies that are completely inside the boundaries of a state park.
  • People who want to keep trout, or fish in waters specifically managed for trout, must have a fishing license and trout stamp validation.

Q: Do I need a license when I assist a child/minor in fishing? How about a disabled person?

If an adult is showing a child younger than 16 how to bait, cast, and remove fish, no license is needed. The child must hold the rod, set the hook and reel in the fish. Meanwhile, you also don’t need  a license to assist a disabled person, who must have a valid license unless an exemption applies. You may only fish with the number of lines allowed for all licensed or exempt anglers fishing.