Illinois Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

Illinois Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

Illinois offers a variety of fishing opportunities, from riverbanks and reservoirs to large lakes. Before you head out on the water, it’s essential to understand the state’s fishing license rules and regulations. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about obtaining an Illinois fishing license, including costs, exemptions, and where to purchase one.

Illinois Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

Who needs an Illinois fishing license?

Fishing is a well-liked pastime that many people enjoy in the state of Illinois. However, before you can cast your line into the state’s numerous lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, it’s important to understand the licensing requirements.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a fishing license is required for all anglers aged 16 and older. This includes both residents and non-residents, with different fees applicable for each group. The current fee for an annual resident sport fishing license is $15.00, while non-residents are required to pay $31.50 for an annual sport fishing license.

However, there are several exemptions to this rule. Individuals under the age of 16 do not require a fishing license. This means that children and teenagers can enjoy fishing without the need for a license, making it a great family-friendly activity.

In addition to this, blind or disabled residents of Illinois are also exempt from needing a fishing license. To qualify for this exemption, disabled or blind persons must be able to show proof of disability in the form of a veteran disability card or a Class 2O or Class 2A card. This exemption applies to both Illinois residents and non-residents, making fishing a more accessible activity for those with disabilities.

Illinois residents in active military service are another group exempt from needing a fishing license. If a person is on active duty in the Armed Forces and they entered the service from Illinois and are an Illinois resident, they may fish without a license while on leave. This exemption is a recognition of the services of Illinois resident veterans, and half-priced licenses are also available to resident veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces after returning from service abroad.

While most people aged 16 and older require a fishing license in Illinois, there are several key exemptions. These include individuals under 16, blind or disabled residents, and Illinois residents on active military service. By understanding these requirements, you can ensure you’re fishing legally and responsibly in the state of Illinois.

Illinois Fishing License Costs

Fishing in Illinois is a rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand the costs associated with obtaining a fishing license. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources sets the fees for fishing licenses, and these fees vary depending on several factors, including residency, age, and the type of license.

For residents of Illinois, the cost of an annual fishing license is $15.00. This license allows you to fish in all public water bodies in Illinois for an entire year. If you’re a non-resident, the cost of an annual fishing license is higher, at $31.50. This is a common practice across many states, where non-residents are required to pay more for fishing licenses.

For those who are only planning on fishing for a few days in Illinois, there are short-term licenses available. Residents can purchase a 24-hour license, while non-residents have the option of a 1-day sport fishing license or a 3-day non-resident fishing license.

There are also reduced fees for certain groups. Senior residents aged 65 and older can purchase an annual fishing license for a reduced fee of $6.50. For residents over 75 years old, the cost is even lower, with an annual salmon stamp costing just $0.50.

Veterans who are residents of Illinois can also benefit from reduced fees. The cost of a resident veteran fishing license, with prior certification required, is $7.75. This is a way for the state to acknowledge the service of its veterans.

In addition to the basic fishing license, there are also additional fees for special licenses or stamps. For example, an inland trout stamp costs $6.50. This stamp is required for all anglers wishing to fish in all waters in Illinois, except Lake Michigan.

You can purchase an Illinois fishing license online at the Department of Natural Resources website or in person at approved Department of Natural Resources license and permit vendors throughout the state.

While the cost of an Illinois fishing license can vary, understanding these costs can help you plan your fishing adventures in the state. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident, a senior or a veteran, there’s a fishing license that’s right for you.

Where to Purchase an Illinois Fishing License

If you’re planning to fish in the state of Illinois, it’s essential to have a valid fishing license. The process of obtaining one is straightforward and can be done through various channels. Here’s a comprehensive guide on where and how to purchase an Illinois fishing license.

Online Purchase

The most convenient way to buy an Illinois fishing license is online. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides an online platform where you can purchase a variety of licenses. This method is not only convenient but also allows you to print your license immediately after purchase.

Over-the-Counter Purchase

If you prefer a more traditional method, you can purchase your fishing license over-the-counter from DNR DIRECT license and permit vendors. These vendors are spread across the state, making it easy to find one near you. Some of the notable vendors include Walmart, Casey’s General Stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Meijer, Gander Outdoors, and local Bait & Tackle Shops.

Commercial License

For those who need a commercial fishing license, you will need to call the DNR at 217-785-3423 or 217-782-2965 to set up a customer number prior to using the online sales feature.

License Types and Fees

The type of fishing license you need and the associated fee depend on several factors, including your residency status, age, and the duration of your planned fishing trip. For instance, Illinois residents generally pay less for a fishing license than non-residents. Also, commercial fishing licenses are sold separately from residential fishing licenses.

Important Considerations

Once you have your Illinois fishing license, it’s crucial to review additional Illinois fishing laws, regulations, and guidelines before fishing in Illinois. Also, remember to keep a printed copy of your license with you when you go fishing.

Purchasing an Illinois fishing license is a straightforward process that can be done either online or over-the-counter. Not only does this license grant you the legal ability to fish in Illinois, but the fees collected also help fund conservation efforts across the state.

Fishing License Expiration and Renewal

Understanding the expiration and renewal process of an Illinois fishing license is crucial for maintaining your legal status as an angler in the state. Here’s everything you need to know about the expiration and renewal of an Illinois fishing license.


In Illinois, fishing licenses expire on March 31 each year. This means that regardless of when you purchase your license within the year, it will always expire on March 31. This is a standard practice across many states, ensuring that all fishing licenses are synchronized and expire at the same time.


The renewal process for an Illinois fishing license is straightforward. You can begin renewing your license starting on March 1 of the year it expires. The new license will be valid until March 31 of the following year. This gives you a one-month window to renew your license before it expires.

How to Renew

Renewing your Illinois fishing license can be done through the same channels as purchasing a new one. You can renew your license online through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website or in person at an approved DNR license and permit vendor.

Important Considerations

When renewing your license, it’s important to review any changes in Illinois fishing regulations. Regulations can change from year to year, so it’s crucial to stay updated to ensure you’re fishing legally.

Understanding the expiration and renewal process of an Illinois fishing license is crucial for maintaining your legal status as an angler in the state. By renewing your license before it expires, you can continue to enjoy fishing in Illinois without interruption.

Additional Resources

For more information on Illinois fishing regulations, stocking data, and fishing locations, visit the IDNR Division of Fisheries website at or consult the Illinois Fishing Information guide.

Remember to always follow local fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release when possible to help conserve fish populations for future generations. Enjoy your fishing adventures in Illinois!

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