Fishing Regulations in Michigan

For a variety of reasons, the state of Michigan is one of the most popular fishing destinations in the United States. The regulations that follow can provide you with some guidance on how to make the most of your fishing experience.



License and permits

If you’re fishing for recreational purposes in Michigan, you’ll need a permit, and the one provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources covers all fish species. A permit or tag can be purchased in addition to a fishing license once it has been purchased.

A muskellunge harvest tag, as well as a sturgeon fishing permit and harvest tag, can be purchased. If you have a strong interest in all types of wildlife, you might consider purchasing a combination hunting and fishing license.


Anglers can use bows, arrows, methods, and even crossbows in most of the state’s waters throughout the year if they want to catch bowfin, carp, catfish, smelt, bullheads, and a few other species of fish.

When they have northern pike and muskellunge on their list, they can also use a hand-propelled spear to pierce through the ice. The fishing season for this type of fishing is open from December until the middle of March.

In order to protect designated trout lakes and streams, as well as the boundary waters between Michigan and Wisconsin, the methods listed above cannot be used.

You can use almost any frog and fish species as bait, with the exception of goldfish and live carp, which are prohibited. Keep in mind that you should not take nymphs and larvae from trout streams if you do not intend to use them immediately.

Anglers are permitted to use graffs, dip nets, hoop nets, and hand nets when fishing. Minnows, for example, can only be caught with the use of nets, traps, or hook and line techniques.


Common species

These are just a few of the rules and regulations that apply to hook and line fishing. Except for salmon and trout, which are the subject of a slew of rules, they refer to species other than those mentioned above.

Catch and release regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass are generally as follows: you can keep a maximum of 5 fish per day during possession season, and the rest of the year you must follow a catch-and-release policy. From the third Saturday in June until the end of the year, it is legal to keep your harvest on your property. This includes the Great Lakes, among other things.

The Lower Peninsula Great Lakes are home to Muskellunge that can be caught all year, but the possession season begins on the last Saturday in April. The season for the waters of the Upper Peninsula is longer. An individual muskie measuring at least 42 inches in length is allowed to be harvested once per year.

Other species, such as smelt, cisco, sunfish, and yellow perch, have an open season that extends throughout the year. There is also no closed season for northern pike in Michigan’s inland waters, with the exception of the Lower Peninsula, where there is a spring gap between mid-March and the last Saturday in April.


Salmon and trout

The fact that there are numerous restrictions on the type of gear that can be used on certain streams or lakes, as well as numerous exceptions when it comes to specific areas and species, is important to understand.

When it comes to trout and salmon fishing on the Great Lakes, the season is always open, and you can keep up to five fish in any combination if they are longer than 10 inches.

With a few exceptions, lake trout can only be caught by angling from January through September, and the maximum size limit is usually 15 inches. Unless you’re fishing in Big Bay, Marquette, Brimley State Park, or one of a few other locations where you can bring home five lake trout fish, you’re only allowed to keep three.

Keep in mind that lake sturgeon are subject to their own set of regulations, which include identification and registration. Whenever the possession limit of one fish is reached on any of the waters, the policy is catch-and-release. In order to maintain their numbers, authorities established a minimum length ranging from 42 to 60 inches.