There are a lot of fishing opportunities in Illinois, but before you drop a line, you’ll need to ensure that you have the correct fishing license or permit. Apart from a license being a legal requirement for most anglers, money raised from license fees typically goes back into fish management programs, stocking, and habitat protection and improvement.

By purchasing a fishing permit, you’re ensuring you’re doing your part to maintain the fishery and protect it for future generations of new anglers.

In the following guide to Illinois fishing licenses, we’ll cover the following:

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Types of Illinois Fishing Licenses

Illinois offers anglers some fantastic fishing opportunities, but it’s a legal requirement for most anglers to have the correct fishing permit. Along with both resident and non-resident fishing permits, there are also some exemptions.

Residents, those who qualify as residents of Illinois according to the state’s definition of residing in Illinois for a minimum of 30 days before obtaining a license and meet the following criteria are exempt from license costs:

  • Persons who have been declared as legally disabled or blind can also show proof of disability.
  • Any tenants or owners who are fishing on their own land, excluding clubs and organizations using organizational lakes or lake developments.
  • Anyone on active duty in the Armed Forces who entered the service from Illinois and is an Illinois resident who is fishing while they are on leave.
  • Anyone fishing at free fishing areas licensed by the Department of Natural Resources.

For Non-Residents of Illinois, there are only two exemptions available:

  • Any anglers that hold licenses from states that are bordering Illinois if fishing on the Illinois side of rivers adjoining the licensing state.
  • Those who are fishing at free fishing areas licensed by the Department of Natural Resources.

The state of Illinois also offers Free Fishing Days, where you can try fishing without a fishing license. However, it’s important to note that all other seasons, sizes, bags, and location laws still apply even on official free fishing days.

Cost of Illinois Fishing Licenses

When it comes to buying a fishing license in Illinois, you have several different options based on your age, residency status, and how long you plan on going fishing. Below are the most common types of fishing licenses available to Illinois anglers.

Fees collected from Illinois fishing licenses go back into the ongoing health and wellness of the fishery and contribute to funding three state-operated fish hatcheries, which help to ensure fish stocks remain at peak levels for anglers.

Resident Fishing Licenses:

  • 24-Hour – $5.50.
  • Annual – $15.00.
  • Anglers 65 years and older – $7.75.
  • Anglers 75 years and older – $1.50.
  • Combination Fishing and Hunting – $26.25.
  • Lifetime Sport Fishing – $435.

Resident veterans who qualify can also receive a 50% discount on annual licenses.

Non-Resident Fishing Licenses:

  • 24-Hour – $10.50.
  • Three-Day – $15.50.
  • Annual – $31.50.

All license sales in Illinois for the year start on March 1st and expire on March 31st of the following year. For more information, please visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. There are also separate Salmon and Trout stamps or endorsements, which you may need to purchase depending on the species you’re targeting. 

Age Requirements for Illinois Fishing License

Anyone fishing in Illinois over the age of 16 must purchase a valid fishing license before dropping a line in the water. They also offer discounted fishing licenses to residents between the ages of 65-75, along with a further discount for anyone over the age of 75.

When fishing in Illinois, you must carry either an electronic or paper version of your fishing permit while fishing, along with a valid form of identification.

Where to Obtain an Illinois Fishing License

The state of Illinois offers anglers several different options when it comes to how they choose to purchase their fishing license. The easiest and fastest way to buy a fishing permit in Illinois is by going online and visiting the Department of Natural Resources website. If you purchase your license online, you can also print a physical copy at any time for no additional cost.

If you prefer to purchase your license in person, the Department of Natural Resources also has an approved list of license vendors, which you can find here.

Complete Guide to Illinois Fishing Licenses – Conclusion

Thanks to the information above, you’ll now have a comprehensive knowledge of Illinois fishing licenses, including where to purchase one, age requirements, costs, and the different types of licenses available to anglers.

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Answer a quick quiz and get your own personalized fishing map

The Fishbox App uses the latest forecasting technology and algorithms to predict the best weather conditions for fishing in your local area. It uses in-depth analysis of weather patterns, fish behavior, and tidal and lunar conditions to tell you the best time to head out on the water and drop a line and when you’re best off at home with your feet up and a good book.

If you have any questions about fishing licenses or permits in Illinois, drop a comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.

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