Get hooked on fishing in Illinois: Buy your license now!

Illinois is an angler’s paradise, boasting a diverse array of freshwater fisheries teeming with a variety of species. From the mighty Mississippi River to the serene lakes and streams, the state offers ample opportunities for anglers of all skill levels to indulge in their passion. However, before you can cast your line, it’s essential to obtain a valid fishing license. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of acquiring an Illinois fishing license online, ensuring you’re fully prepared to embark on your next fishing adventure.

Illinois Fishing License Requirements

To legally fish in Illinois waters, you must possess a valid fishing license if you’re 16 years of age or older. The requirements vary based on your residency status and age.

Resident vs Non-Resident Licenses

An Illinois resident is defined as someone who has lived in the state for at least 30 consecutive days prior to purchasing a license. Residents can obtain an annual fishing license at a reduced cost compared to non-residents.

Non-residents, on the other hand, have the option to purchase either a 24-hour, 3-day, or annual fishing license, depending on the duration of their stay in Illinois.

Age Requirements

While anglers under 16 years of age are exempt from obtaining a fishing license, those aged 16 and above must have a valid license in their possession while fishing. However, Illinois residents aged 75 or older are eligible for a reduced-price super senior fishing license, costing only $1 plus a $0.50 handling fee.

How to Buy Illinois Fishing License Online

Purchasing your Illinois fishing license online is a convenient and hassle-free process. Follow these simple steps:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Visit the official Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) website at
  2. Navigate to the “Fishing” section and click on the “Buy Licenses & Permits” link.
  3. Select the appropriate license type based on your residency status, age, and desired duration.
  4. Provide the required personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth.
  5. Review and confirm your purchase details.
  6. Complete the payment process using a valid credit or debit card.
  7. Upon successful payment, you’ll receive an electronic copy of your license, which you can print or save on your mobile device for easy access while fishing.

Fees and Costs

The fees for Illinois fishing licenses vary depending on your residency status, age, and the type of license you purchase. Here are the current fees (as of 2024):

  • Resident Annual Fishing License: $15 (qualifying resident veterans are half price)
  • Resident 24-Hour Fishing License: $5.50 (doesn’t include salmon or trout privileges)
  • Non-Resident 24-Hour Fishing License: $10.50 (doesn’t include salmon or trout privileges)
  • Non-Resident 3-Day Fishing License: $15.50
  • Non-Resident Annual Fishing License: $31.50

Please note that additional transaction fees may apply, and fees are subject to change. It’s always advisable to check the IDNR website for the most up-to-date information.

Top Fishing Spots in Illinois

Illinois is home to numerous exceptional fishing destinations, each offering unique experiences and opportunities to reel in a variety of fish species.

Best Lakes for Bass Fishing

  • Lake Shelbyville: Known for its abundant largemouth and smallmouth bass populations, Lake Shelbyville is a popular destination for bass anglers. Its clear waters and diverse structure make it an ideal location for both novice and experienced anglers.
  • Rend Lake: Situated in southern Illinois, Rend Lake is renowned for its trophy-sized largemouth bass. With its vast expanse of over 18,000 acres, it offers ample opportunities for successful bass fishing.

Best Rivers for Fly Fishing

  • Fox River: The Fox River is a premier fly fishing destination in Illinois, offering anglers the chance to target a variety of species, including trout, smallmouth bass, and muskie.
  • Kankakee River: Known for its scenic beauty and diverse aquatic life, the Kankakee River is a favorite among fly fishermen. Its clear waters and gentle currents make it an ideal location for both beginners and seasoned anglers.

Illinois Fishing Regulations

To ensure the sustainability of Illinois’ fisheries and promote responsible angling practices, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the state’s fishing regulations.

Catch Limits and Seasons

Illinois has established daily catch limits and size restrictions for various fish species to prevent overfishing. These limits may vary depending on the body of water and the specific species targeted. Additionally, certain fish species have designated open and closed seasons, during which fishing for those species is either permitted or prohibited.

Prohibited Areas

Certain areas within Illinois may be designated as protected or off-limits for fishing activities. These areas are typically established to safeguard sensitive habitats, spawning grounds, or endangered species. It’s essential to consult the IDNR website or local authorities to ensure you’re fishing in permitted areas.

By adhering to these regulations, anglers can contribute to the preservation of Illinois’ rich aquatic resources and ensure a sustainable fishing experience for generations to come.


With its diverse array of freshwater fisheries and abundant fish populations, Illinois offers endless opportunities for anglers to indulge in their passion. By obtaining a valid fishing license online and familiarizing yourself with the state’s regulations, you can embark on your next fishing adventure with confidence and contribute to the responsible management of Illinois’ aquatic resources. So, grab your rod, purchase your license, and get hooked on the thrill of fishing in the Prairie State!

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