Fishing Basics

Do I need a license?

You need to buy a Minnesota fishing license if you're 16 or older. Annual licenses allow you to fish from March 1 to the last day of February the following year. Lower-cost licenses are available for shorter time periods. There is an added cost to fish for trout, salmon or sturgeon. In most cases, Minnesotans don't need a license if you're fishing in a state park. The DNR's complete listing of fishing licenses can help you decide what to buy.

When can I fish?

You can fish in spring, summer, fall and winter. You can fish any day of the year if the kind of fish you're trying to catch can be legally caught on the day you're fishing.

What can I catch?

You can catch some fish such as crappie, catfish, sunfish, perch and bullhead at any time. Fish such as walleye, northern pike and bass – commonly called gamefish – can only be caught during certain times of the year. Those time periods can vary depending on where you are fishing. Use the DNR LakeFinder to find specific regulations for a particular lake, river or stream. If you're fishing for trout, check out the Trout Fishing Regulations.

How can I fish?

You can catch fish with a line attached to a fishing pole. When the water isn't frozen, you must use only one fishing pole. When the water is frozen, you can use two lines, which don't have to be attached to a fishing pole. Regardless of the time of year, if your line is in the water you have to be right there. In some places and for some fish, spearing, netting and using a bow with an attached arrow are allowed. Use the DNR LakeFinder to find specific regulations for a particular lake, river or stream.

Where can I fish?

You can fish on lakes, rivers and streams.  To get to a fishing area, don't cross private property without permission. Some areas may have fishing and access restrictions posted. Use the DNR LakeFinder to find specific regulations for a particular lake, river or stream.

What if I catch fish?

Use the DNR LakeFinder to find the number of fish you may catch each day in a particular lake, river or stream. No matter where you fish, the number of fish you catch each day are part of the total number of fish in your possession. Fish you have at home in a freezer or back at camp in a cooler are considered to be in your possession and count toward your limit.

Trout Fishing

You can catch trout in lakes, rivers and streams all over Minnesota. Find out about how and when you can catch and keep trout:

Trout Fishing Regulations »

Where to Go

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2014 Minnesota Fishing Regulations »

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