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Wisconsin Fishing Licenses
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Anglers are required to buy Wisconsin fishing licenses before fishing in one of the many state-sanctioned areas, such as Lake Michigan. To buy a fishing license in the state, anglers must submit a fishing license application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). State anglers must have a valid Wisconsin fishing permit and identification on their person at all times while out catching fish in state waters. The Wisconsin DNR has a variety of fishing license options for resident and nonresident anglers of various ages and skill levels, in addition to sturgeon spearing licenses for spear fishermen. Factors that affect which category a license is placed in include the applicant’s residency status, age, the desired length of the license’s validity period and the type of fish being caught. Depending on your budget, you can get fishing licenses in Wisconsin for lifetime, annual or short-term periods. Regardless of the license you choose to purchase, you will have to complete the Wisconsin fishing license application process prior to paying your license fee. To buy fishing licenses in Wisconsin, visit a licensed DNR agency, apply by phone or online through the DNR licensing website. Resident fishing permits are issued at a discounted rate and require applicants to provide proof of their Wisconsin residency during the application process. For more information on how to get a fishing license in Wisconsin, click this link. The types of fishing credentials offered by the Wisconsin DNR include:

  • Standard fishing licenses
  • Commercial fishing licenses

New Wisconsin Fishing Licenses

Buying a permit to fish in Wisconsin allows anglers to catch fish in most public fishing areas across the state. Though recreational anglers are only required to buy the standard Wisconsin license to fish, many additional options exist for tailoring your license to your specific needs. When completing the Wisconsin fishing permit application process, provide the DNR with proof that you live in Wisconsin in order to receive a resident recreational fishing license at the discounted fee. Anglers without proof of residency must purchase a nonresident fishing license.

To buy a fishing license in Wisconsin, visit an authorized Wisconsin DNR agent in person or call the DNR licensing department. Locations and phone numbers are available on the Wisconsin DNR website. However, the simplest option for buying fishing licenses in Wisconsin is to purchase them online. Online license purchases are available immediately for anglers to print from their home printer.

The standard license is valid annually and must be renewed each year. Other licensing options include the junior WI fishing license for anglers who are 16 and 17 years of age, as well as the senior citizen license for anglers 65 years of age and older.

One of the most widely purchased Wisconsin fishing licenses is the first-time buyer license. The first-time buyer license is available to anglers who have never fished in the state before or who have not purchased a license in at least 10 years. First-time buyer licenses can be purchased at a significantly reduced fee and are valid for one year. Subsequent renewals will be charged at the standard Wisconsin fishing license rate.

Anglers who do not plan to fish for a significant amount of time also have the option of purchasing one-day fishing passes. Additionally, if you have a recreational fishing permitand recruit somebody else to purchase a license through the DNR, you can also receive a discount on your annual license renewal. As an added bonus, all children 15 years of age and younger fish for free in Wisconsin every day.

Other special groups that receive discounted fishing licenses through the DNR include disabled persons and armed forces veterans. Active-duty military members receive their fishing documents for free.

Regardless of which WI license to fish you choose, complete the application process and provide the Wisconsin DNR with your name, age and residency status through your chosen application method. In the event that you lose your license, anglers can apply for a duplicate through the DNR for a small fee.

Wisconsin Commercial Fishing Licenses

Commercial fishing licenses in Wisconsin are required for anglers who plan to make a profit off fishing in state waters. Just as with recreational fishing licenses, commercial anglers must apply for a commercial fishing license to fish through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Wisconsin DNR offers multiple types of commercial fishing licenses depending on the type commerce the applicant will conduct, including bait dealer licenses, wild bait harvest licenses, fish farm licenses and wholesale fish dealer licenses.

To get a commercial fishing license in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website and complete the application that corresponds with the type of license you would like to get.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
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