Missouri presents a great fishing getaway for both seasoned and novice anglers. The lakes, rivers and streams peppering the state offers various freshwater fish species across the country with catfish fishing considered as one of the best in the US. Whether you plan to shore fish from the banks of Missouri River or cast a line on Jefferson Lake hoping to catch a largemouth bass, you still have to get a Missouri fishing license.

There are different types of fishing license in Missouri offered to residents and non-residents. It is best to seek the advice of the licensing department to avoid any confusion. The money sourced from the issuance of fishing licenses are contributed to the fishery management department of Missouri for conservation education, protection of the fish habitat, propagation of the fish population, and more.

There are wide varieties of fish in Missouri and it is important that an angler has a basic knowledge of them. It is also imperative that the fishing rules and regulations applicable to accepted types of fishing methods are familiar to an angler. Why? These knowledge will help an angler are in accordance with the fishing rules and regulations of Missouri and adherence to these laws will secure the future of the fish population.

As more anglers from different parts of the country are trooping to Missouri for their fishing vacation, an increased awareness on the conservation program of the states must be put across enthusiasts. Aside from awareness of the state's fishing laws and regulations, responsible anglers are expected to contribute to the protection of the environment and its inhabitants. One way of helping in the conservation process is by not polluting the waterways and practicing fishing etiquette.

Have you ever tried fishing in Jefferson Lake or reel in a hefty catfish from the shores of the Missouri River? If not, then you are missing out on a lot of the best things that are fishing-related the United States can offer. Missouri, like many other states in the US, is blessed with abundant rivers, streams, and reservoirs. It offers a ton of fishing opportunities for beginners and more experienced anglers. You can go fishing in one of its waters alone, or you can bring your family with you. In Missouri, one thing is certain: fishing will always be fun. 

Three of the best fishing spots in the United States are found in Missouri. They have Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where you can catch bass, crappie, and walleye. It is definitely a perfect spot for a fishing getaway. Another top fishing spot in the state is Table Rock Lake, which is a tree-lined inland body of water outside Branson, Mo. And of course, Missouri boasts Sioux Harbor, which is a well-known place to fish and boat. No matter where you cast your line, either the harbor or by boat, you can surely catch a catfish, carp, and a drum. 

But of course, natural resources are not infinite. The sustainability of fishing depends heavily on policies and how responsible anglers are. That is the reason why the state of Missouri has mandated the Missouri Department of Conservation to manage, oversee, and protect the natural resources - specifically wildlife and fishing - in the state. As part of their initiatives to protect their waters from the eventual depletion of fish populations, the state agency sells fishing licenses to anglers who want to fish in their waters. 

The fishing licenses will not only account for people who are fishing in the state of Missouri, but they will also make sure that anglers are legally fishing in their waters and will follow all fishing rules and regulations designed to maximize sustainability. On top of that, the revenue earned from collecting fees when issuing fishing licenses to anglers is used to fund all conservation efforts of the agency, including but not limited to research, breeding, and technology procurement. 

Buying a fishing license in the state of Missouri is simple and easy. But if you are still confused about what to kind of license you need to buy, this article will help you get started. 

Who is required to purchase a Missouri Fishing License?

A Missouri Fishing License (or fishing permits as the state officially calls it) is required from anyone who fishes in the waters within the state's jurisdiction. Several exemptions are in place, but those who are exempted are still required to purchase a daily trout fishing tag or trout permit when or where necessary. Here is the qualification for the exemption from the Missouri fishing license requirement: 

  • Any Missouri resident landowner and all members of their immediate households (see definition on Page 45) when fishing on the land they own.
  • Any Missouri resident (whether or not meeting the definition of a landowner) who owns land that completely encloses a body of water, or any member of his or her immediate household, when fishing in those waters.
  • Any Missouri resident 65 years of age or older. Any person (resident or nonresident) 15 years of age or younger. Youth who are fishing without a permit is limited to the following methods: pole and line, gig, bow, crossbow, snaring, grabbing, and snagging.
  • Any Missouri resident with a visual acuity not exceeding 20/200 in the better eye with maximum correction, or having 20 degrees or less field of visual concentric contraction. Must carry a certified statement of eligibility from a licensed ophthalmologist, optometrist, or physician.
  • Any Missouri resident who is so severely and permanently disabled as to be unable to move freely without the aid of a wheelchair. Must carry a certified statement of eligibility from a licensed physician.
  • Any Missouri resident with cerebral palsy or a mental disorder or illness as defined in Missouri Revised Statutes, section 630.005, and who is so severely disabled that he or she cannot fish alone. Must be accompanied by a licensed adult angler and must possess a certified statement of eligibility from a licensed physician qualified to evaluate and treat the developmentally disabled.
  • Any resident or nonresident who is an honorably discharged veteran who has a service-related disability of 60 percent or greater, or who was a prisoner of war during military service. Must carry a certified statement of eligibility from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Any member of the US military currently assigned as a patient to a Warrior Transition Brigade, Warrior Transition Unit, or a military medical center. Must carry orders showing such an assignment.

Residency requirements

A resident angler has several privileges and can be qualified for special discounts, rates, and permits. However, there are qualifications that need to be met before one can purchase a Missouri fishing permit as a resident. Here are the resident eligibility requirements: 

  • Any person who does not claim resident privileges in another state or country, and whose actual residence and legally permanent home address are both in Missouri, and have been for at least 30 days before applying for the permit. Owning real estate or attending a Missouri school does not in itself make you a legal resident.
  • Missouri residents employed by the United States in the District of Columbia or serving in the US armed forces. (Immediate family members who reside with them also may purchase resident permits.)
  •  All members of the US armed forces stationed and residing in Missouri on the permanent change-of-station status and immediate family members residing with them. 
  • Nonresidents who are registered students attending a public or private secondary, postsecondary, or vocational school in Missouri and who live in Missouri while attending school; must carry evidence of a Missouri residence and student status, such as a student ID, while fishing. Note: Nonresident students who qualify for resident permits must purchase them in person, over the phone, or through the mail from Conservation Department offices. 
  • Immigrants who possess an I-551 Resident Alien Card from the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and who do not claim resident privileges in another state or country, and whose actual residence and legally permanent home address are both in Missouri and have been for at least 30 days before purchasing a permit. 

How to purchase a Missouri Fishing Permit?

The state of Missouri offers different methods of purchasing a fishing permit. Depending on which one is the most convenient to you, you can purchase your Missouri fishing permit online, in person, through the app, or by phone. 

  • Online . One of the most convenient ways of purchasing a fishing permit in Missouri is online. All you need to do is to go to  the MDC website  and use your credit card to pay. Surcharges are waived, and you can print your permit right after the purchase is confirmed so you can use it immediately. 
  • In Person . You can also buy a fishing permit over the counter from any permit and license vendor all over the state. 
  • Through the MDC App. You can also buy a permit by downloading the free MO Fishing App and buy directly from it by paying through any credit card. The app will also display the permit's digital copy, which is as valid as a paper permit. Learn more about the app by following this  link
  • Through the Phone . You can also opt to call 800-392-4115, order your permit over the phone, pay via credit card. This method of purchasing a permit charges a $ 1 surcharge, and it takes up to 10 days before the permit is delivered to you. 

Different types of Fishing Permits in Missouri

Anglers, depending on their age, residency status, and special circumstances, have different options of permits to choose from. Here's a matrix of all the available fishing permits that you can purchase in the state of Missouri: 

Permit Type



Fishing Permit (For fish, frogs, mussels, clams, turtles, crayfish, and live bait.)

$ 12

$ 42

Daily Fishing Permit

$ 7

$ 7

Combination Hunting and Fishing Permit

$ 19

Not Available

National Guard and Reserve Service Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit

$ 5

Not Available

Trout Permit (16 years and older)

$ 7

$ 7

Trout Permit (15 years and younger)

$ 3.50

$ 3.50

Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit

$ 19.00

Not Available

In order to be allowed to catch fish, frogs, mussels, clams, turtles, crayfish, and live bait, a resident or non-resident angler is required to purchase a Fishing Permit for $ 12.00 (residents) and $ 42.00 (non-residents). A daily fishing permit can also be purchased for $ 7 for both residents and non-residents. Furthermore, a resident or non-resident who plans to fish for trout must purchase a trout permit for $ 7.00 (or $ 3.50 for ages 15 and below). 

Residents are also given the privilege to purchase a lifetime fishing permit to enjoy fishing for the rest of their years in the waters of Missouri. Here are the different lifetime permits that a Missouri resident can purchase: 

Lifetime Fishing Permit (residents only)



Youth (0-5)

$ 275

Age 16-29

$ 400

Age 30-39

$ 350

Age 40-59

$ 300

Age 60-64

$ 35

For more information regarding the different permits in the state of Missouri, please visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website .

Daily Limits and other Important Fishing Regulations

For each species, the state of Missouri imposes different possession and catching limits in order to maintain a healthy fish population in its waters. To know more about the different regulations involving fishing in Missouri, please download the free Missouri Fishing Guidebook through the link provided below. 

Dowload A Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the effectivity date of the permit I purchased? 

Fishing licenses are effective from the date of purchase until the last day of February of the following year.

Q: Where can I purchase a Missouri fishing permit in person? 

You can purchase your Missouri fishing license (fishing permit) at Department of Conservation offices or from vendors around the state including bait and tackle shops and sports goods stores.

Q: Is there a Free Fishing Day? 

Yes. Everyone, with or without license, can fish in the waters of Missouri during Free Fishing days. In 2020, the schedule is on June 6 and 7, 2020. On private, licensed trout-fishing areas, customers and guests may fish for trout without a permit.