Buy Wisconsin Fishing License in Illinois: Your Guide to Where and How

Wisconsin is renowned across the Midwest and beyond for its exceptional fishing opportunities. From smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Michigan to musky fishing in the Northwoods lakes, the Badger State offers world-class angling.

Many Illinois residents make the trip north to wet a line in Wisconsin’s plentiful waters. To legally fish in Wisconsin as a non-resident, you must purchase the proper fishing license as required by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Understanding Wisconsin’s fishing license options, costs, purchasing process, and regulations is crucial to staying legal on your fishing excursions. This guide provides everything an Illinois angler needs to know.

Wisconsin Fishing License Requirements

Wisconsin law mandates that all anglers ages 16 and older have an appropriate fishing license to fish the state’s waters, with few exceptions.

The exceptions include:

  • Wisconsin residents born before 1927
  • Wisconsin residents who are totally disabled or over 65 with proper identification
  • Active duty military personnel stationed in Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin resident disabled veterans with proper documentation

Non-residents have very few exceptions to the fishing license requirement in Wisconsin. Essentially, non-residents under age 16 and any non-resident active duty military members stationed in Wisconsin are exempt.

So nearly every non-resident angler, including those traveling from Illinois, needs a Wisconsin fishing license to legally fish in the state.

License Types & Costs for Non-Residents

Wisconsin offers non-resident anglers several license options at various price points:

  • Annual: $50
  • 15-day: $28
  • 4-day: $24
  • 1-day: $10 (upgradeable to annual license for $40.75)

The annual license is valid from the date of purchase through the following March 31. Short-term licenses are valid for the specified number of consecutive days.

In addition, you may need to purchase fishing stamps for:

  • Trout & salmon: $15 annual
  • Sturgeon (Lake Winnebago system): $20 annual

Review Wisconsin fishing regulations to determine if additional stamps are needed for popular fisheries like Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Wisconsin River, Bois Brule, and others.

Purchasing Your Wisconsin Fishing License

Illinois anglers have two options for obtaining a Wisconsin fishing license – online or in-person:

Purchase Online

The Wisconsin DNR offers a convenient online license sales platform called Go Wild. Purchase your Wisconsin license 24/7 through GoWild.wi.gov. You will need:

  • A valid driver’s license or state ID number
  • Social security number
  • Credit card or checking account

Online purchases include a $2.75 transaction fee. Allow 10 days for delivery of your printed license by mail.

Buy In Person

You can also buy a Wisconsin fishing license in-person at hundreds of license vendors located throughout the state. Many bait shops, sporting goods stores, convenience stores, and gas stations serve as license agents.

In-person purchases avoid the online transaction fee and you receive your license instantly. Find a license vendor near your Wisconsin fishing destination through the DNR website.

In addition to license agents, Wisconsin DNR service centers across the state sell fishing licenses over the counter.

Reciprocity Between Illinois and Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not have a reciprocal fishing license agreement with Illinois. Some nearby states offer license reciprocity, but Illinois and Wisconsin do not currently have any reciprocity agreements .

So if you are an Illinois resident, even if you hold a valid Illinois fishing license, you still need to purchase the proper non-resident Wisconsin license to fish legally across state lines. The same applies to Wisconsin residents fishing in Illinois.

Fishing License Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding fishing regulations across state borders can be confusing. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Where Can I Fish With My Wisconsin License?

A Wisconsin fishing license allows you to legally fish any body of water within the state during the license period, provided you follow seasons, limits, and other rules. Your WI license does not provide reciprocity to fish in Illinois or any other state.

How Long Are Wisconsin Fishing Licenses Valid?

  • Annual licenses expire March 31 the year after purchase
  • Short-term licenses are consecutive day periods

For example, a 4-day bought on June 1 is valid through June 4.

If I Have an Illinois Fishing License, Do I Still Need One For Wisconsin?

Yes. As noted above, Wisconsin and Illinois do not have reciprocal agreements, so you need to buy the proper non-resident Wisconsin fishing license regardless of whether you hold an Illinois license.

Ready to Go Fishing?

As an Illinois resident, buying a Wisconsin fishing license is a key step before wetting your line across state lines. This guide summarizes everything you need know, but always refer to the [Wisconsin DNR website] for the most up-to-date rules and regulations.

With your WI fishing license in-hand, countless lakes, rivers and streams await. Enjoy world-class fishing and good luck reeling in your next trophy!

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