Unveiling the Key: Navigating Fishing License Requirements for Bowfishing in Minnesota

Do You Need a Fishing License to Bowfish in MN?


Bowfishing, the exciting sport of combining archery and fishing, has been gaining popularity among outdoor enthusiasts in Minnesota. However, before you grab your bow and head out to the waterways, it’s important to understand whether or not you need a fishing license for bowfishing in Minnesota. In this blog post, we will delve into the regulations surrounding bowfishing licenses in MN so that you can enjoy this thrilling activity legally.

Bowfishing Regulations in Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) oversees all hunting and fishing activities within the state. To engage in bowfishing while adhering to state laws and regulations, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules laid out by the DNR.

Fish Species Eligible for Bowfishing

In Minnesota, several fish species are eligible for bowfishing. These include common carp, grass carp (under certain restrictions), buffalo fish, bighead carp (also known as Asian carp), garfish (longnose gar), suckers (except those listed as threatened), sheepshead fish (freshwater drum), and dogfish.

It’s worth noting that some species may have size limits or specific seasons during which they can be targeted using a bow and arrow. Always check with local authorities or consult online resources provided by the DNR for up-to-date information on regulations concerning target species.

Bow Classification

When discussing whether a fishing license is required for bowfishing in Minnesota, understanding how bows are classified is crucial:

– Recurve Bows: Traditional-style bows where limbs curve away from the archer when unstrung.
– Compound Bows: Modern bows utilizing cables and pulleys – often giving greater accuracy than recurve bows.
– Crossbows: Bows that feature a horizontal limb and are shot using a trigger mechanism.

It’s important to note that while no license is required for bowfishing in Minnesota, the classification of your bow may determine whether you need an archery license. Recurve bows, compound bows, or crossbows used solely for fishing purposes do not require an archery license.

Fishing License Requirements

While a fishing license may not be necessary for bowfishing itself, there are some scenarios where one would still be required:

If You Plan to Take Fish Home

If you intend to keep any fish caught while bowfishing and take them home with you, regardless of the method used (bow or traditional angling), then a valid Minnesota fishing license is compulsory. This ensures compliance with state regulations regarding fish possession limits and helps support conservation efforts.

Bowfisher as an Assistant Angler

Suppose you are participating in bowfishing alongside someone who holds a valid Minnesota fishing license and intends to catch fish using traditional methods such as rod and reel. In that case, you can assist them without requiring your own individual fishing license.

However, it’s essential to remember that assisting another angler means refraining from actively shooting or harvesting fish yourself – rather focusing on helping your companion during their angling activities.


In summary, if you’re planning on trying out the exhilarating sport of bowfishing in Minnesota, determining whether or not you need a fishing license depends on specific circumstances. While no dedicated “bowfishing” licenses exist in the state, having a valid Minnesota fishing license becomes necessary if keeping any caught fish or acting as an assistant angler alongside someone using traditional rod-and-reel techniques.

Always stay informed about current regulations set forth by the MN DNR before embarking on your bowfishing adventures, ensuring compliance with the law while enjoying this incredible outdoor activity. Happy bowfishing!