Minnesota residents can fish without a license in most state parks beginning July 1.
The new program is the latest lure in the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) tackle box of ideas to sustain the state’s storied fishing tradition.
“Minnesota has amazing state parks, most of which are located on lakes and rivers,” said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife director. “By eliminating the license requirement, it is our hope that those who have never fished before will try it during their state park visit.”
Under Minnesota law, anyone age 16 or older is required to have a state fishing license unless fishing during the free Take A Kid Fishing weekends or some other exemption, including the new Minnesota state park fishing license exemption. While DNR officials do not believe the cost of a fishing license is a significant barrier to fishing, they also believe that it is good business to create the social environment that encourages fishing.
“Studies have shown that most people would gladly go fishing if someone simply asked them,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s parks and trails division. “It’s our hope that while friends and families are together in a park someone who fishes will share their rod and reel with someone who hasn’t. That’s how traditions are passed on. That’s how connections to nature are made. And that’s the start of fishing friendships that last a lifetime.”
Specifically, the Minnesota state parks fishing license exemption allows park visitors to take fish without a license when shore fishing or wading on state-owned land within a state park. All limits and special regulations in effect for the body of water being fished apply. When angling from a boat or float, the law applies only to those water bodies that are completely encompassed within the statutory boundary of the state park.
Anglers must possess a valid license when fishing in Minnesota’s six state recreation areas; on waters where a trout stamp is required; and when fishing in any city, county, regional or federal park.
The exemption is one of several new laws the DNR proposed and the Legislature enacted during the last session. DNR officials do not believe the license waiver will have a significant effect on license revenue, as most angling takes place on some 5,400 fishing lakes located outside of state parks.
“We see this as a great opportunity to try the lifetime sport of fishing without needing a license,” Schad said. “If people catch the fishing bug in a Minnesota state park, we ultimately see them purchasing an angling license and traveling to other fishing destinations where they will stay at the local resorts, campgrounds and parks in those areas.”
A list of Minnesota state parks and the water bodies where the new law applies is available online.