SHERIFF'S CORNER: "Sir, can I see your fishing license?"

As the unofficial start of summer begins this holiday weekend, as well as free fishing weekend shortly around the corner, many fishing guys and gals will be hitting the lakes and streams in hopes of getting "Catfish Hunter" or the "Big One,"

From the simple bobber-sinker-worm combo to the modern day fish finders, fishing has come a long way from the good ole days.

It reminds me of the days when my son was growing up and we would take our summer trip to the Pioneer Lodge on Dog Lake in Missanabie, Ontario; or fishing with grandpa on the St. Joe River near Three Rivers. Then again, I think we did too much drinking in Missanabie then we did fishing, and I think my grandfather did too much drinking when he was watching me fish on the St. Joe. Oh, the memories ...

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I talk to you about Michigan fishing licenses.


In 1765, the Chinese government required all fishing boat operators to obtain a fishing license that regulated coastal populations. The wooden license issued by the government was to be displayed on the bow or stern of a boat.

The information on the license consisted of the name and age of the boat's owner; the ship's status as either a fishing or commercial vessel; the home port of the boat; crew and family members on board; the date the license was issued; and the registration number of the license.

Fishing is an important part of American history. Not only did it help people survive long before the United States was ever formed, it has advanced our economy, provided millions of jobs throughout history, and given outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy the water.


Who needs a Michigan fishing license?

A license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans and/or reptiles in public waters of the state. If you are 17 years of age or older and fish in Michigan you must purchase a fishing license. If you are under 17, you may fish without a license, but you are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations. Turning 17 at any point during the current season (April 1-March 31), you'll need to buy a license once you do.

NOTE: When fishing, you must carry your license and the identification used to purchase that license and exhibit both upon request of a Michigan Conservation Officer, a Tribal Conservation Officer or any law enforcement officer or peace officer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also has an electronic license that allows an individual to display a copy of the fishing license using a smartphone or similar device.

All species fishing license fees:

• Resident Annual — $26

• Nonresident Annual — $76

• Senior Annual (Residents 65 or older or residents who are legally blind) — $11

• Daily Fish (Resident or Nonresident) — $10/day

NOTE: This year the free fishing weekend dates are June 12-13 and Feb. 19-20.

Adults assisting minors

Any adult actively assisting a minor must have a fishing license. However, adults without a fishing license may do the following:

• Help land a fish with a net or their hands

• Help unhook a fish

• Set up the fishing rod with the appropriate gear

• Bait the hook

• Fix tangles or snags

• Cast the line for young anglers; however, it should be stressed the young angler must be an active participant while the adult is only assisting.

To purchase a fishing license you must have:

• A valid Michigan Driver's License; or

• A valid Michigan ID Card (issued by the Secretary of State); or

• A valid driver's license from your state of residency

To qualify for a resident fishing license, you must:

• Be a person who resides in a settled or permanent home or domicile within the boundaries of this state with the intention of remaining in this state, or

• Be a full-time student at a Michigan college or university, and reside in Michigan, or

• Serve full-time in the U.S. Military and be either officially stationed in Michigan or maintain residency in Michigan.

NOTE: The ownership of land in Michigan by itself is not qualification for a resident license.

U.S. Military Personnel:

Fishing license fees are waived for full-time, federal, active-duty U.S. military personnel who have maintained resident status. The individual must present a military ID, leave papers, duty papers, military orders or other evidence verifying that he/she is an active-duty member of the military, along with a valid Michigan driver's license or voter registration card.

This license, available at DNR Customer Service Centers and at license retail outlets statewide, is valid for the license year. Military members receiving a free license must present the license, along with proof of military status, if requested by a Conservation Officer or peace officer.

NOTE: Nonresident, active-duty military personnel officially stationed in Michigan qualify for Michigan resident rates.


The DNR Little Manistee River Weir

The Little Manistee River weir is an egg-take and salmon harvest facility which is operated by the DNR. The weir is used to block fish on the Little Manistee River in the spring and fall of the year.

Steelhead eggs are taken in the spring and chinook salmon eggs are taken in the fall at the weir. The eggs taken at the weir are sent to state fish hatcheries where they are reared and stocked all over Michigan. Eggs are also supplied to several other states.

Fishing restrictions: 300 feet above and below the weir is closed to fishing all year; from 300 feet above the weir to Spencers Bridge is closed to fishing Jan. 1-March 31; also from 300 feet below weir to mouth is closed to fishing Sep. 1-Nov. 14 and Jan. 1-March 31.

Angler rights on public streams

On fenced or posted property or farm property, an angler wading or floating a navigable public stream may, without written or oral consent, enter upon property within the clearly defined banks of the stream, or without damaging farm products, walk a route as closely proximate to the clearly defined bank as possible when necessary to avoid a natural or artificial hazard or obstruction, including, but not limited to a dam, deep hole or fence or other exercise of ownership by the riparian owner.

However, per the Michigan Penal Code Section 552c, a person is prohibited from intentionally and without authority or permission from entering in or upon premises or structures belonging to another person that is a "key facility" if that key facility is completely enclosed by a physical barrier of any kind.

A key facility includes: a chemical manufacturing facility; a refinery; an electric utility facility; a water intake structure or water treatment facility; a natural gas facility; gasoline, propane, liquid natural gas, or other fuel terminal or storage facility; a transportation facility; a pulp or paper manufacturing facility; a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility; a hazardous waste storage, treatment or disposal facility; and a telecommunication facility.

Fishing for Bass on Big Bass Lake

It is important to note that the general Michigan minimum size for keeping Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass is 14 inches, however on Big Bass Lake the minimum is 10 inches due to the increased Bass population contained therein.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to