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Fish related licenses and permits

Fishing Wisconsin

These permits and licenses (e.g., stocking permits, waterway and wetland permits, fishing licenses) are either administered directly by our DNR staff or in other cases administered by DNR Customer Service Representatives.

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Bait Dealer License

A bait dealer license is required of any person who buys for resale, barters, gives or sells bait. Only residents of Wisconsin can be issued a bait dealer license.

License Types
Class A Bait Dealer License: allows a resident to buy for resale, barter, give or sell bait to the amount of $2,000 or more each year.

Class B Bait Dealer License: allows a resident to buy for resale, barter, give or sell bait to the amount of less than $2,000 each year

Wild Bait Harvest Permit

The wild bait harvest permit is for licensed bait dealers who harvest live bait from state waters for sale to retail or wholesale distributors.

If you collect minnows for your own use or crayfish for consumption, you can do this without a permit, as long as the minnows are only used on the water where they were collected and are never moved live from the harvesting water.

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Tournament Fishing Permit

The DNR has established limits on the size and number of tournaments on some lakes and rivers to minimize concerns such as crowding, the spread of invasive species, and indirect fish mortality.

Additionally, an application fee is required to cover the increasing cost of implementing the tournament fishing program.

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Fish Farms

Based on the way you plan to operate your aquaculture facility or fish farm ponds, you may need to apply for certain permits from the DNR.

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Fish Stocking Permit

A permit is required to stock or plant fish, including fish eggs, in waters of the state.

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Fish Transport Permit

The Possession, Transport, and Transfer of Live Fish General Permit authorizes possession and transport of live commercial and rough fish.

This general permit is available to anyone with a current commercial fishing license, wholesale fish dealer license, or rough fish contract who possesses or transports live fish. There is no fee for the permit.

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Mississippi and St. Croix rivers net license application

A Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers Net License Application is required of any person to net fish on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. If you want to harvest shovelnose sturgeon, a Shovelnose Sturgeon Harvest Permit is required. The sturgeon permit is included in this application form. The nets that are covered under the permit are:

  • gill;
  • seine;
  • bait;
  • buffalo;
  • frame;
  • trammel; and
  • slat nets.

Reporting requirements - with the purchase of this license, you are required to file a monthly report with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) whether or not fishing operations were carried on during the month. Monthly reporting is required whether or not the fish caught are kept for personal use or sold.

Mississippi River Commercial Fisheries Net License Monthly Report Forms:

Mississippi River Setline License is a commercial fishing license. With the purchase of this license, you are required to file a monthly report with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) whether or not fishing operations were carried on during the month. Monthly reporting is required whether or not the fish caught are kept for personal use or sold.

Mississippi River Commercial Fisheries Setline Monthly Report Forms:

A Mississippi River setline fisher is required to a have Shovelnose Sturgeon Harvest Permit harvest if they want to keep shovelnose sturgeon. The sturgeon permit application form is on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers net license application located above.

Permitted Incidental Take

Commercial Fishing Permittees must adhere to the following conservation measures in addition to all requirements in NR 21 and NR 22, Wis. Adm. Code, in order to be compliant with this permit. These measures are intended to minimize the incidental take (catching or killing) of threatened species while conducting commercial fishing activities in the Mississippi River and its connected waters of St. Croix River and Lake St. Croix.

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Setline, Set and Bank pole

Set or bank pole and setline licenses can be purchased from either a DNR Service Center or at selected vendors.

Set or Bank Pole
A set or bank pole license authorizes the use of up to 5 set or bank poles. Set or bank pole licenses are $3.00 and include 5 tags.

Setline
A setline is a staked line equipped with no more than 25 hooks. A setline license authorizes the use of one setline. A setline license is $11.00 for license and 25 cents for the tag.

Commercial
Commercial fishing licenses include commercial net licenses and setline but not set or bank pole licenses.

Regulation information on setline, set and bank poles can be found on the fishing regulations page.

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Sport Trolling and Guide

Only licensed fishing guides and sport trollers may guide anglers for any compensation.

Guide License
The guide license fee is $40 for a resident and $100 for a non-resident.

Sport Trolling License
Sport trolling licenses are required for guiding any person in sport trolling for trout or salmon on any outlying water of lakes Superior and Michigan and Green Bay. Sport trolling license fee is $100 for a resident and $400 for a nonresident.

  • Application materials for sport trolling can be obtained by calling 1-888-936-7463 or 608-266-2621.

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Wholesale fish dealer license

A wholesale fish dealer license is required of any person to:

  • buy;
  • barter;
  • obtain;
  • sell; or
  • possess

fish for sale to anyone other than a consumer.

Great Lakes Fish and Sturgeon Commercial Fisher/Wholesale Fish Dealer Inventory Report is required to be completed for each license and for each location at which fish are possessed, stored or controlled.

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Fish Habitat and Waterway Permits

Step by step instructions regarding the permits required to complete projects in or near a waterway or wetland.

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Scientific Collectors Permit

Policy, application and report form for a scientific collectors permit