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Minnesota Fishing Regulations

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Cast your line on Lake Margaret in the Brainerd Lakes Area / Paul Vincent
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Minnesota Fishing Regulations

By Brian Fanelli

Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Minnesota, and that level of interest requires tight regulations to ensure our lakes and rivers stay stocked with fish. Every time you go fishing in Minnesota, be sure to follow these fishing regulations laid out by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Glendalough State Park Annie Battle Lake woman and dog fishing

Fishing on Annie Battle Lake, Glendalough State Park

Fishing Season Opener Dates

For many, Minnesota's fishing opener is the beginning of summer—a day that roughly half a million anglers eagerly await each year. In a state where walleye is king, many Minnesota anglers think of it as the walleye opener. But in fact, the May season opener includes a number of species that reside in Minnesota waters such as northern pike, trout, and—in some areas of the state—bass.

In addition to the highly publicized May fishing opener, there are separate opening dates for muskie and stream trout listed below. The season for sunfish, crappies, perch, channel catfish and a few less popular species is always open.

Year Walleye, Pike, Bass Muskie Stream Trout
2020 May 9 June 6 April 18
2021 May 15 June 5 April 17
2022 May 14 June 4 April 16

Minnesota Fishing Licenses

Before going fishing in Minnesota, the first step is acquiring your fishing license. To legally fish in Minnesota, anyone age 16 to 89 needs a fishing license unless an exemption applies. There are a variety of licenses available depending on your residency status, type of angling and duration. You must carry your license while fishing or traveling from an area where you were fishing.

Popular licenses

  • Individual angling: A fishing license for one person.
  • Combination angling: Allows a married couple to fish individually or together.
  • Individual sports: Allows one person to hunt small game and fish.
  • Combination sports: Allows one person to hunt small game and fish, and another person to only fish. 
  • Non-resident angling: A fishing license for one non-resident.

Visit the Minnesota DNR website to see all available Minnesota fishing licenses and purchase yours online.

Loon Lake family fishing

Father and daughter fishing on Loon Lake / Micah Kvidt

Minnesota Fishing Regulations

From trespassing laws to bait, transporting fish, daily limits and fishing methods, Minnesota has a variety of fishing regulations all anglers must follow to keep our fisheries stocked and our waters clean. 

Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli is a writer and editor for Explore Minnesota. When he isn't writing about life in The North, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.