Illinois is one of the best states in the Midwest for recreational fishing, with excellent fishing for bass, muskie, and other freshwater species, including crappie and other panfish.
You need to get an Illinois fishing license before wetting a line in the state.
We’ve put together all the necessary information on fishing licenses in Illinois for residents and non-residents, including costs, which license you need to buy, where to buy it, and more.
Fishing in Illinois
First, a few quick words on the quality of fishing in Illinois.
From the Mississippi River to the great Lake Michigan to ponds & marshes, Illinois there is a range of great fishing spots in Illinois.
Illinois Fishing License Cost
An annual Illinois fishing license for resident anglers costs $15. An annual fishing license for non-resident anglers costs $31.50.
For the full range of pricing for all the different Illinois fishing licenses, check the tables below.
Illinois Fishing License Age
All anglers who are 16 and older need to carry a valid license when fishing in all Illinois waters, including lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams. This applies to both residents and non-residents.
Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Illinois?
- Youth under the age of 16 (see here for info on the age you can be without needing a fishing license in other states)
- blind or disabled anglers (see here for info on free licenses for disabled anglers in other states)
- residents on active military service
- Illinois residents who are owners or tenants of a property where waters flow on or over it. This license does not apply to residents who live in a subdivision with a lake.
Fishing License Types in Illinois
The state of Illinois offers several different types of sport fishing licenses depending on your residency, age, and duration of your planned fishing trip. The following are the most popular resident and non-resident fishing licenses in Illinois.
Cost: How Much is a Fishing License in Illinois?
Resident Fishing Licenses
Illinois resident is someone domiciled in Illinois for the entire year. Your domicile is the place where you reside and the place where you intend to return after temporary absences. Temporary absences may include duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, residence in a foreign country, out-of-state residence as a student, or out-of-state residence during the summer or winter.
|Fishing License Type (Resident)||Cost|
|Resident sport fishing, annual||$15.00|
|Resident Sport Fish, 65 and older||$7.75|
|Resident sport fishing (24-hour)||$5.50|
|Sportsman’s License (combined hunting and fishing licenses)||$26.25|
|Senior Sportsman’s License (combined hunting and fishing licenses)||$13.50|
|Lake Michigan Salmon Stamp (licensed anglers only)||$6.50|
|Inland Trout Stamp (all waters except Lake Michigan; licensed anglers only)||$6.50|
|Resident lifetime sport fishing||$435.00|
|Resident lifetime combined (hunting and fishing)||$765.00|
Non-Resident Fishing Licenses
Non-resident licenses are applicable to all visitors to Illinois who want to fish from other states or countries. These licenses are typically more expensive than resident licenses, and some of the discounts and exemptions that apply to residents, veterans, the disabled, and seniors don’t usually apply to non-resident license holders.
|Fishing License Type (Non-Resident)||Cost|
|Non-resident sport fishing (24-hour)||$10.50|
|Non-resident sport fishing (3 days)||$15.50|
|Non-resident sport fishing (annual)||$31.50|
Who Can Purchase Discounted Illinois Fishing Licenses?
|Discounted Illinois Fishing License||Cost|
|Resident Senior Fishing License||$7.75|
|Resident Senior Sportsmen’s Combination Hunting/Fishing License||$13.50|
|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||$2.75|
|Resident Veteran Fishing License (Prior Certification Required)||$7.75|
|Resident Veteran Sportsmen’s Combination Hunting/Fishing License (Prior Certification Required)||$13.50|
Special Fishing Programs in Illinois
Illinois Urban Fishing Program
The Illinois Urban Fishing Program, a part of the Community Outreach and Resource Enhancement Program, was initiated in Chicago in 1985. This program was implemented to teach people of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities, and to give participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources. Free fishing clinics are scheduled at 20 sites throughout the state.
Where Can I Buy an Illinois Fishing Licence?
Department of Natural Resources
You can get your license directly from DNR Direct license and permit vendors online at https://exploremoreil.com.
You may also purchase a license by calling Customer Service at 866-716-6550. The system is available 24 hours a day.
List of Vendors
For online sales and a list of vendors, see https://www.exploremoreil.com/agentlocator.
Walmart stores are a great choice for buying a fishing license.
What Happens With Illinois Fishing License Fees?
The fees collected through license sales are used to help fund Illinois programs on the management, conservation, and preservation of its water and natural resources.
Does Illinois Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?
Illinois has entered into an agreement with the States of Missouri (see here for info on Missouri fishing licenses), Iowa (see here for info on Iowa fishing licenses), Wisconsin, Kentucky (see here for info on Kentucky fishing licenses), and Indiana (see here for info on Indiana fishing licenses) to permit persons licensed or legally exempt from licenses by those states to fish in any of the waters forming a boundary between those states and the State of Illinois and lying within the territorial jurisdiction of this State in the same manner and to the same extent that persons holding or legally exempt from Illinois licenses may do if the laws of Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Indiana, respectively, extend a similar privilege to persons licensed or legally exempt under the laws of this State. Check full details here.
Does Illinois Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?
Yes. Illinois does offer lifetime licenses for its residents – Resident Lifetime Fishing License and Resident Lifetime Sportsmen’s Combination Hunting/Fishing License.