Commercial Fishing Guide Permit Process for 2020

In 2019, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) implemented its pilot year of the Commercial Fishing Guide Permit Program. The Refuge waived permit fees and offered a grace period to guides operating in 2019 to allow for a transition into this new program. The 2020 season will be fully enforced and fishing guides operating within the Refuge will need to apply for and obtain a permit as well as pay applicable fees.

The Refuge has management authority and jurisdiction over lands and waters on the Mississippi River between Reads Landing, MN (lower Pool 4) and Le Claire, IA (Lock and Dam 15). Those that operate a fishing guide business within the Refuge (Lower Pool 4 through Pool 14), will need a permit from the Refuge. In 2018, the Refuge determined that commercially guided fishing is an activity compatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established. This process, called a compatibility determination, authorizes the continuation of guided fishing on the Refuge through a permit system. To learn more about the Refuge and refuge compatibility determinations please visit:

Fishing Guides who believe they may be operating on the Refuge, or would like to, should contact Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Meta Griffin (507-494-6221,, to obtain a copy of the Program Requirements and Stipulations (2019 through 2024) for Fishing Guide Services on the Refuge and a permit application. If you operate a fishing guide service within the Refuge, you are encouraged to review this document and submit an application for a permit. Permit applications may be submitted any time between now and March 15, 2020.

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