When the Michigan DNR sent a reminder about buying a new 2015 fishing license (see below), I thought it would be interesting to look at the data on how sales have done with the new license structure.
Jody Simoes was recently hired by DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Division to look at the license trends, investigate the reasons driving them, and see what marketing efforts may be needed, if any. He gave a presentation at the March NRC (charts below can be seen in the full presentation) meeting that shared some really striking details about how changes in the licenses can impact trends (or not).
This week, I  will be buying my Hunt/Fish combo license as I did 2014-hunter-angler-overlaplast year ($76 for base, deer combo, and fishing license), but it appears I am in the minority. I was surprised to learn that less than one-third of Michigan’s license buyers both hunt and fish (28%) and only 3 percent of non-residents do both.
We heard a lot of talk about how the new license structure and prices impacted the nearly 200,000 non-resident anglers, but here’s some hard data to look at.
2014-non-res-fishing-license-trendWhen the new 72-hour license was introduced in 2010, the number of licenses sold dropped dramatically. This really had nothing to do with the price or fishing quality, it was about convenience to allow a non-resident angler the opportunity to buy 1 license for a weekend rather than two or three 24-hour licenses. It presented little change in the overall number of non-resident anglers.
However, last year, when the non-resident restricted license ($34) was eliminated and non-residents only had the choice of a new all-species license ($76), a 24 hour ($10) or a 72 hour ($30), there was the expected spike of non-residents that opted for either the more expensive new annual fishing license or those that chose to buy only temporary licenses. But what was not expected was the 9.5 percent decrease in the 2014-non-res-angler-trendnumber of out-of-state anglers in total. As a result, the DNR Director chose to discount the non-resident fishing license for 2015 to $68.
The following is a Michigan DNR press release (March 30, 2015) 
New Michigan fishing license required April 1
The Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that a new fishing license season begins Wednesday, April 1, which coincides with the new regulation cycle. All 2014 fishing licenses are good through March 31, 2015.
Anglers have five options to choose from when making their purchases. All fishing licenses are good for all species.

  • Resident Annual – $26
  • Non-Resident Annual – $68
  • Senior Annual (for residents age 65 or older) – $11
  • 24-Hour (resident or non-resident) – $10
  • 72-Hour (resident or non-resident) – $30

Residents and non-residents also can purchase the Hunt/Fish combo license for $76 and $266, respectively, that consists of a base license, annual fishing license and two deer tags. A base license is not required when just purchasing a fishing license. There is also a Hunt/Fish combo license available to senior residents for $43.
Michigan’s fishing licenses bring revenue into the state that is invested into the state’s fisheries in several ways, including providing greater access to world-class fishing opportunities, improving fisheries habitat in inland lakes and streams, and increasing the health and quantity of fish stocked in the state.
The DNR Fisheries Division depends primarily on angler dollars (through license sales and federal excise tax dollars for fishing tackle) to manage the state’s fisheries. Buying a fishing license, even if you do not plan to fish, can make a big difference to the future health of Michigan’s prized freshwaters.
There are two simple ways to purchase a fishing license in Michigan:

  • Visit a local license retailer or DNR Customer Service Center and make a purchase in person.
  • Use the E-License system to buy a license online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just visit on a computer, smartphone or tablet to get started.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit

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