Illinois Fishing Licenses
Anglers fishing in Illinois public rivers, lakes and streams are legally required to buy IL fishing licenses before engaging in fishing activities. Fishing licenses are issued by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Whether fishing commercially or recreationally, residents and visitors to the state must meet the requirements set by the DNR prior to buying a fishing license. Novice anglers can brush up on their skills through the fishing education opportunities available through the DNR. More experienced anglers can also gain support through the many fishing organizations available in Illinois. Read on to find out more about the topics below:
- Types of fishing licenses in IL
- Fishing education in IL
- Fishing organizations in IL
Types of Illinois Fishing Licenses
Illinois offers many fishing opportunities and fishing licenses for anglers of all skills sets. There are two categories of available fishing licenses:
- Recreational fishing license
- Commercial fishing license
Anglers younger than the age of 16 are exempt from IL fishing license requirements. To buy a state fishing license, apply through the DNR using one of two methods:
- In person
To buy a fishing license online, visit the Online License System on the DNR website. During the application process, the system will ask you to provide some identifying information such as your name, date of birth and Social Security Number. Fishing license online fees require a valid debit or credit card to complete the purchase.
To buy a fishing license in person, visit a local IL county clerk’s office or an authorized license vendor. To expedite the process, print and complete your fishing license application online prior to visiting a license vendor.
Illinois Recreational Fishing Licenses
Fishing as a pastime in state waters requires a valid IL recreational fishing license. Fishing licenses can be purchased online or in person at an authorized license vendor. Recreational fishing license fees vary based on the applicant’s residency status, with state residents receiving a discount:
- Resident Fishing Licenses
- Annual Resident Fishing License: $15
- Resident Lifetime Fishing License: $435
- Resident Lifetime Sportsmen's Combination Hunting and Fishing License: $765
- Resident Senior Fishing License: $7.75
- Resident Senior Sportsmen's Combination Fishing and Hunting License: $13.50
- Resident Sportsmen's Combination Hunting and Fishing License: $26.25
- Resident Super Senior Fishing License: $1.50
- Resident Super Senior Inland Trout Stamp: $0.50
- Resident Super Senior Lake Michigan Salmon Stamp: $0.50
- Resident Super Senior Sportsman Combo Hunting and Fishing License: $2.50
- Resident Veteran Fishing License: $7.75
- Resident Veteran Sportsmen's Combination Hunting and Fishing License: $13.50
- Resident Sport Fishing License (24 hour): $5.50
- Non Resident Fishing Licenses
- Non Resident Fishing License: $31.50
- Non Resident Fishing License (three day): $15.50
- Non Resident Initial Commercial Fishing License: $150.00
- Non Resident Sport Fishing License (24 hour): $10.50
- Inland Trout Stamp: $6.50
- Lake Michigan Salmon Stamp: $6.50
Note: Fees are subject to change.
All lifetime fishing license or sportsmen’s license applicants born on or after January 1, 1980 must possess a Certificate of Competency due to the IL Wildlife Code.
Illinois Commercial Fishing Licenses
Anglers making a commercial profit off fishing in Illinois waters are required to obtain a commercial fishing license. IL commercial fishing licenses can be purchased online or over the phone by dialing 1-888-6-PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). Depending on the type of license, expiration dates are either on March 31 or January 31:
- Resident Mussel Dealer License: $300.50
- Non-Resident Mussel Dealer License: $2,500.75
- Resident Retail Aquatic Life Dealer License: $10.50
- Resident Wholesale Aquatic Life Dealer License: $50.50
- Resident Retail Minnow Dealer License: $5.50
- Resident Wholesale Minnow Dealer License: $25.50
- Non-Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License: $100.75
- Processed Wild Game Dealer License: $25.50
Commercial fishing businesses must set up a customer number with the DNR prior to getting a commercial fishing license. However, private citizens do not need a customer number to apply for a commercial fishing license.
Illinois Fishing Education
The Department of Natural Resources offers many opportunities to learn more about fishing, whether you are a beginning or experienced angler.
The Aquatic Illinois Trunk is an educational tool that includes a number of teaching resources concerning the biological, historical, chemical and other properties of state waters and wildlife. Included in the trunk are books, water sampling tools, videos and various activities for children from third grade to high school.
The IL Community Outreach and Resource Enhancement Program – formerly the Illinois Urban Fishing Program – is another educational resource aimed at teaching residents of all ages how to properly fish and preserve the surrounding wildlife. The program also works to maintain the population of fish in state waters to promote sport fishing in the community.
Illinois Fishing Organizations
Fishermen who would like to improve their fishing skills can learn more about their craft from fellow anglers by joining a fishing organization in the state. Some of the most popular IL fishing organizations contain a variety of focuses:
- Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation
- Fox River Valley Muskies
- Blackhawk Bassmasters
The Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation (IBN) is a subsidiary of the larger National B.A.S.S. Nation, which supports a wide range of fishing related activities from tournaments to youth programs. Local competitions held by the B.A.S.S. Nation are an intense build-up to the GEICO Bassmaster Classic that takes place each year in various parts of the country. With a focus on wildlife conservation, the IBN helps preserve state waters to ensure anglers can continue to fish freely.
The Fox River Valley Muskies was founded in 1981 with the purpose of promoting musky fishing through youth involvement programs, fishing education resources and community outreach. With over 300 members statewide, the Fox River Valley Muskies hope to continue improving fishing conditions throughout Illinois.
The Blackhawk Bassmasters are another subsidiary of the National B.A.S.S. Nation, focused on improving the fishing knowledge of anglers throughout the state. Members are encouraged to voice their opinions and suggestions for Blackhawk Bassmasters activities during group meetings, which are held on the first Wednesday of every month.