Michigan Fishing Laws

Michigan Fishing Laws
Michigan's anglers fall under the jurisdiction of the laws enforced by the Department of Natural Resources. Fishermen must comply with such laws as size and creel limits or they are subject to fines as well as possible loss of fishing privileges.


You must purchase a fishing license in Michigan if you are an angler over the age of 16. Residents and nonresidents alike have the opportunity to do so, with nonresident fees steeper than those paid by Michigan residents. The license must be in the possession of the angler while she fishes. Michigan sells various fishing licenses that cover different scenarios. For example, senior citizens who are 65 years of age or older pay much less for their licenses than a resident who is between the ages of 17 and 64. Those serving in the military get a discount on their licenses if they are Michigan residents and serving outside the state. When they come back on leave, a license costs them only $1 and is good for a two-week period.


There are specific laws regarding the methods employed to take fish in Michigan. All fish (except live carp, lampreys and goldfish) as well as frogs are legal bait as long as the angler legally caught them. Bow fishing, dip nets and gaffs that secure hooked fish are legal in Michigan with certain restrictions. Michigan allows hand nets that help an individual land their catch, but these nets must not exceed 66 inches in circumference on specifically designated trout streams in April, May and June. The angler may not put more than three separate lines per individual in the water at once. This means ice fishermen have a three tip-up limit; these devices must have the angler's name and address on them.

Banned Practices

Michigan fishing laws plainly spell out to the angler what is illegal within state lines as far as fishing practices go. Among these are taking a fish just to remove the roe. Taking of endangered species is illegal, as is having in your possession a weighted hook with multiple points. Possessing more than the posted limits of a species, fishing in closed water or out of season, employing illegal methods such as poisoning fish, and using just a fishing net to catch fish within a distance of 100 feet from of a dam is unlawful. Snagging fish and keeping fish hooked somewhere other than in their mouths is against the regulations.

Size and Creel Limits

Michigan, like every other state, strictly enforces size limits and creel limits on each species. Some fish have no such restrictions in regards to their size such as yellow perch and sunfish. However, fish like the muskellunge have a minimum size requirement. The angler cannot keep a muskie smaller than 42 inches, a pike smaller than 24 inches and largemouth bass smaller than 14 inches. Creel limits vary from fish to fish. The angler may keep five walleye, 10 channel catfish, one muskellunge and as many as 50 yellow perch.

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