Wisconsin Fishing License: How to Get One in 2023

Wisconsin anglers are required to have recreational fishing licenses on them at all times while fishing in state waters. Additionally, commercial fishing licenses are required for all anglers who plan to profit from the sport. All licenses to fish are administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Novice anglers can enhance their basic fishing skills by attending education courses and events offered by the state department. Plus, fishing enthusiasts can gain further experience by connecting with other anglers through the various state fishing organizations. Learn more about how to buy fishing licenses in West Virginia in the presented sections below:

  • Types of fishing licenses in WI
  • Fishing education in WI
  • Fishing organizations in WI

Types of Wisconsin Fishing Licenses

The Department of Natural Resources offers a variety of Wisconsin fishing licenses to both residents and non residents of the state. Fishing license types are categorized based on factors such as the applicant’s age, the length of the license’s validity, the applicant’s residency status and whether or not the applicant plans to profit from the sport. Applicants may obtain one of two main fishing licenses in the state:

  • Recreational fishing licenses
  • Commercial fishing licenses

The Department of Natural Resources offers a number of methods for buying fishing licenses in Wisconsin. Depending on which is most convenient, choose from three options:

  • Buy fishing licenses at a DNR office in the state.
  • Buy fishing licenses through an authorized licensing agent.
  • Buy fishing licenses online through the DNR website.

Recreational Fishing Licenses in Wisconsin

Recreational fishing licenses are required for all Wisconsin anglers who plan to catch fish in state waters for sport. Both residents and non residents can buy fishing licenses through the Department of Natural Resources. Licenses to fish are categorized based on the applicant’s age, residency status and the length of the licenses validity:

  • Residential Fishing Licenses
    • Annual Fishing License: $20
    • Fishing License (first-time buyer): $5
    • One-Day Fishing License: $8
    • Junior Fishing License (16 and 17 years of age): $7
    • Senior Fishing License (65 years of age and older): $7
    • Spouse Fishing License: $31
    • Inland Trout Stamp: $10
    • Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp: $10
    • Two-Day Great Lakes Fishing (includes Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp): $14
    • Two-Day Inland Lake Trout Fishing (includes Inland Trout Stamp): $14
    • Disabled Fishing License: $7
    • Veteran/Disabled Fishing License: $3
    • Armed Forces Fishing License: Free
  • Non resident fishing licenses
    • Annual Fishing License: $50
    • Family Annual Fishing License (includes children 16 and 17 years old): $65
    • First-time Buyer Fishing License: $25.75
    • One-Day Fishing License: $10
    • Four-Day Fishing License: $24
    • 15-Day Fishing License: $28
    • 15-Day Family Fishing License: $40
    • Military Fishing License: $20
    • Inland Trout Stamp: $10
    • Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp: $10
    • Two-Day Great Lake Fishing (includes Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp): $14

Note: Wisconsin fishing license fees are subject to change without notice.

Commercial Fishing Licenses in Wisconsin

Anglers in Wisconsin who plan to profit off the sport must obtain a commercial fishing license from the Department of Natural Resources. Commercial fishing licenses are categorized based on the type of fish that is caught and how the profit is made. To purchase one of the commercial fishing licenses, contact a local DNR office:

  • Bait Dealer License (WI residents only): buying for resale, bartering, giving or selling fish bait
  • Wild Bait Harvest Permit (licensed bait dealers only): harvesting live bait from Wisconsin waters to sell to retail or wholesale distributors
  • Tournament fishing permit: required to conduct fishing tournaments
  • Fish Farms Permit: required to run a fish farm
  • Fish Stocking Permit: required to stock/plant fish and fish eggs
  • Fish Transport Permit: required to transport fish
  • Setline, Set and Bankpole Licenses: required to use this gear to harvest fish
  • Sport Trolling and Guide Licenses: required to be a fishing guide
  • Wholesale Fish Dealer License – required to buy, barter, catch, sell or have in your possession fish for sale to wholesalers
  • Fish Habitat and Waterway Permits: required for projects near waterways or wetlands
  • Scientific Collectors Permit: required for planned study and investigations

Fees for WI commercial fishing licenses vary.

Wisconsin Fishing Education

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources promotes the fishing education of youth in the state through its anglers education program. Through the program, instructors teach students the basics of fishing in state waters, along with helping them explore aquatic resources. With a focus on wildlife conservation and fishing ethics, the angler education program works with schools in the community and provides training workshops for prospective instructors. Additionally, the DNR offers loaner fishing equipment to help students gain hands-on experience.

Wisconsin Fishing Organizations

Seasoned anglers in Wisconsin can gain additional experience and connect with other fishing enthusiasts by joining one of several fishing organizations in the state. Popular fishing organizations hold regular events and tournaments with prizes for winners. Many fishing groups, such as the ones below, also have specialized focuses as well:

  • Wisconsin Kinni Bass Master Fishing Club
  • Wisconsin Fishing Club Ltd.
  • Wisconsin Council of Sport Fishing Organizations

The Wisconsin Kinni Bass Master Fishing Club is a social club for bass anglers of all skill levels. Established in 1976, the group has grown to include dozens of members, while organizing regular fishing tournaments. A unique aspect of the organization is that it only holds paper tournaments, allowing anglers to catch, measure, and release the bass to compete without harming animals in the long term.

The Wisconsin Fishing Club Ltd. – formerly the Wisconsin Spoonpluggers Club – is the state’s oldest social fishing organization. Founded in 1966 with a focus on promoting sport fishing throughout Wisconsin, the WFC fosters social connections between anglers while also holding regular meetings and tournaments.

The Wisconsin Council of Sport Fishing Organizations (WCSFO) is a conglomeration of WI fishing organizations banded together to pool resources for the purpose of promoting sport fishing statewide. With over 15,000 lakes throughout the state, the WCSFO aims to keep sport fishing one of the most popular pastimes in Wisconsin.

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