Illinois Fishing License 2023: Types, Costs and How To Buy

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Illinois Fishing License information

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.

Along with the excellent bass fishing, there is good fishing for walleye and for catfish in power station cooling ponds.

Who Needs a Fishing License In Illinois?

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
  • blind or disabled anglers
  • 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?

Crappie taken crankbait
Crappie fishing can be great in the state of 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

You may also check the complete list of fishing licenses in Illinois here.  See here for a full table of license costs in all states.

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 resident fishing licenses are available for Illinois residents – senior, super senior, and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces after returning from service or mobilization. 

Discounted Illinois Fishing LicenseCost
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

Walleye fishing gear list
Walleye fishing is very good 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?

Flathead catfish 2
Catfish a a feature of Illinois fishing in power station cooling ponds

Department of Natural Resources

You can get your license directly from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online at

By Telephone

You may also purchase a lincense 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:

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 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, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Indiana 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. 

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water.