The state of Michigan is one of the top destinations for American anglers for all the good reasons. The following regulations can give you a hint on how to make the best of your fishing experience.


License and permits

If you’re fishing for recreational purposes, you’re required to have a permit, and the one provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources includes all species. Once you’ve purchased the fishing license, you can add a permit or tag to it.

You can buy a muskellunge harvest tag and a sturgeon fishing permit and harvest tag. Another option is to get a combo hunt/fish license if you’re passionate about all wildlife.



Anglers can use bow, arrows and spear and even crossbow in most of the waters in the state of Michigan during the year when they intend to catch bowfin, carp, catfish, smelt and bullheads and a few other species.

They can also use a hand-propelled spear to pierce through the ice when they have northern pike and muskellunge on their list. Open season for this type of fishing stretches from December until mid-March.

The methods mentioned above cannot be used on designated trout lakes and streams or on the boundary waters between Michigan and Wisconsin.

You can use almost any frog and fish species as bait, with exceptions such as goldfish or live carp. Be careful not to take nymphs and larvae from trout streams if you don’t intend to use them right there.

Anglers can legally use graffs, dip nets, hoop nets and hand nets. Minnows, for instance, can only be taken by the use of nets, traps or hook-and-line.


Common species

These are just some of the regulations concerning hook and line fishing. They refer to species other than salmon and trout, which are the object of many separate rules.

The general regulation for largemouth and smallmouth bass is that you keep a maximum of 5 fish per day during possession season and apply catch-and-release policy through the rest of the year. Keeping your harvest is legal from the 3rd Saturday in June until the end of the year. That includes the Great Lakes.

Muskellunge can be caught the whole year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes but possession season starts on the last Saturday of April. Waters of the Upper Peninsula have a longer season. Only one muskie with a 42 inches minimum length can be harvested in one year.

Other species like smelt, cisco, sunfish or yellow perch have an have an all year open season. Northern pike is also open season except for the Lower Peninsula inland waters where there is a spring gap between mid-March and the last Saturday in April.


Salmon and trout

It’s important to know that there are multiple restrictions on the type of gear you can use on certain streams or lakes and numerous exceptions when it comes to specific areas and species.

On the Great Lakes, it’s always open season for trout and salmon, and you get to keep 5, in any combination, when they exceed 10 inches in length.

Lake trout can only be angled from January through September, with some exceptions, and size limit is usually 15 inches. You can keep three trouts unless you’re in Big Bay, Marquette, Brimley State Park and a few other places where you can go home with five lake trout fish.

Keep in mind that lake sturgeon have their own regulation, including tag and registration. On all waters, the policy is catch-and-release whenever the possession limit of 1 is reached. To keep their numbers up, authorities introduced a minimum length of 42 to 60 inches.  



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