Fishing Licenses in Illinois


An Illinois recreational fishing license is required for residents and non-residents age 16 or older who wish to take or attempt to take fish from the state’s waterways. Holders of a sport fishing license in IL can use it to access a variety of fish from a million and a half acres of water, from enormous Lake Michigan to the smallest ponds, from the mighty Mississippi River to your neighborhood creek. The state also offers discounted recreational fishing license types to qualifying military service members, elderly residents and disabled individuals.

Review the information organized below to learn more about Illinois recreational fishing license types. Information is also provided about commercial fishing permits for those who want to pursue fishing for commercial purposes, however, it is recommended to contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for in-depth commercial fishing information. Find out each freshwater fishing license cost and learn about the fish species you can catch with your IL fishing license today.

Who needs a fishing license in Illinois?

Illinois residents and non-residents age 16 and older need a recreational fishing license to go fishing in state waterways. There are exceptions to this freshwater fishing license requirement, including people under the age of 16, blind or disabled residents of Illinois and state resident military personnel who are on leave from active duty.
Do you need a fishing license for freshwater angling from a private pond located entirely on your property? You do not need a freshwater fishing permit if the pond is owned by you alone. This exception does not apply to neighborhood lakes, club and organizational lakes or lake developments.

Illinois Fishing License Requirements

Applicants for a non-resident freshwater fishing license only need to select the type of non-resident license they want, complete the application and pay the fee. Those applying for a resident freshwater fishing license in Illinois must provide proof of state residency to receive a resident’s license. For recreational fishing license purposes, a person can be considered a state resident after living in Illinois for 30 days prior to applying for a license.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Illinois

Illinois offers a variety of general recreational fishing license types to residents and non-residents. There are also many kinds of commercial fishing permits issued by DNR. Popular license types include:

  • Resident or non-resident annual recreational fishing license.
  • Combination hunting/fishing license.
  • Resident and non-resident lifetime fishing license.
  • Resident and non-resident senior fishing license.
  • 24-hour or 3-day sport fishing license.

What types of fish can I catch with fishing licenses in Illinois?

The fish you can catch with your recreational fishing license in Illinois are surprisingly diverse for a state that does not border an ocean. You can use your sport fishing license or commercial fishing permit to fish for the following species:

  • Bass (largemouth, smallmouth, striped, hybrid striped, yellow, white and rock)
  • Yellow perch
  • Catfish (blue, channel and flathead)
  • Bullhead catfish (black, brown and yellow)
  • Black and white crappie
  • Northern pike
  • Walleye
  • Saugeye
  • Sauger
  • Salmon (chinook, coho and pink)
  • Pickerel
  • Muskellunge
  • Shad
  • Freshwater drum
  • Bigmouth buffalo
  • Herring
  • Sunfish (bluegill, green, mud, pumpkinseed, redear and warmouth)
  • Sturgeon
  • Trout (lake and rainbow)
  • Gar (longnose, shortnose and spotted)
  • Carp
  • Bowfin




What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Illinois?

Although your Illinois recreational fishing license covers most fishing privileges in the state, licensed sport fishermen are required to obtain stamps for certain fish. Holders of a sport fishing license must get a Lake Michigan salmon stamp to catch salmon in Lake Michigan, and an inland trout stamp for all waters except Lake Michigan. Each type of stamp costs $6.50.

How long is a fishing license valid in Illinois?

Most IL sport fishing license types are valid for up to one year, depending on when you buy it. All recreational fishing licenses expire on March 31 each year. Short-term sport fishing license types, such as the 3-Day non-resident fishing license, expire on the date printed on the license.

How much does an Illinois fishing license cost?

How much is a sport fishing license in DE? What commercial fishing license price should you expect to pay if you operate a boat for commercial purposes? Non-resident fees for commercial fishing licenses and recreational fishing licenses are higher than for residents:

Resident Fishing Licenses (Annual, unless otherwise noted)

  • General fishing license: $15
  • Senior 65+ fishing license: $7.75
  • Senior 75+ fishing license: $1.50
  • 24-Hour fishing license: $5.50
  • Sportsmen combined hunting/fishing license: $26.25
  • Senior 65+ Sportsmen combined hunting/fishing license: $13.50
  • Lifetime fishing license: $435
  • Lifetime combined hunting/fishing license: $765

Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

  • General fishing license: $31.50
  • 24-Hour fishing license: $10.50
  • 3-Day sport fishing license: $15.50

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Are fishing license discounts available in Illinois?

Illinois recreational fishing license discounts are available to qualifying individuals including senior citizens age 65 and older, disabled and blind residents, disabled veterans and certain military personnel. Learn requirements to receive one of these special sport fishing license types by contacting your local DNR office.

Where can I get a fishing license in Illinois?

Buy your IL recreational fishing license or commercial fishing permit directly from DNR direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website, or by phone. The system is available 24 hours a day.

How can I replace my Illinois fishing license?

Replace a lost or damaged Illinois recreational fishing license online if you purchased the credential through DNR’s portal. You may also replace it at your local recreational fishing license dealer or at a DNR office, except for those located in DNR Region Two.


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