Here's something I didn't know for a long time. It turns out I was violating fishing regulations for years because of an incorrect assumption I had made. I told some fishing friends about it, and they didn't know it either.

I live in Superior, Wisconsin. Between Duluth, Minnesota & Superior, Wisconsin is the St. Louis River and harbor. The river has some great fishing, and that's really where I do most of my fishing.

Superior, WI skyline as seen from across the St. Louis River
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Our family cabin is also in Minnesota, and I do a lot of fishing there during the summer as well. Rarely have I ever gone into a Wisconsin inland lake to fish. The St. Louis river has so many species of fish and plenty of nice size walleye.

Walleye in hand

So most years I just bought a non-resident Minnesota fishing license from the Minnesota DNR, because I really only fish Minnesota lakes. I figured that because the St. Louis River is a border water my non-resident Minnesota Fishing license would make me legal.

It wasn't until I ran into a Wisconsin Conservation Officer a few years ago that I realized my mistake. He checked my license when I was preparing to unload my gear from my truck off 28th Street in Superior on the St. Louis River.

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I showed him my non-resident Minnesota fishing license. He asked for my Wisconsin license. I told him I didn't think I needed a Wisconsin license for border waters.

Turns out I was wrong. Fortunately, he gave me a chance to go get a Wisconsin license. The way it reads off the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fishing regulations spells it out. I don't know why I didn't even notice this before.

What license do I need to fish border waters?
• Minnesota residents must have a Minnesota license.
• Residents of a state bordering that water must have their state’s license.
• Other nonresidents may purchase a Minnesota or the bordering state’s
nonresident license.

So bottom line, if you're fishing border waters between Minnesota & Wisconsin and live in either state, you have to have your home state's license. It's kind of a bummer because we already pay so much for our out-of-state Minnesota license, and I really only fish the border water. Fortunately, if it's your first year buying a fishing license in Wisconsin, it's only $5. It's a nice promotion the Wisconsin DNR has for their first-time licenses. They all cost only $5 for your first year. Check out for more information.

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