Illinois Fishing Regulations

The state of Illinois is home to a large number of rivers, lakes, and ponds, with up to 400 bodies of water total in the entire state. In order to protect this diverse environment, the state has enacted general and site-specific regulations, which anglers are required to adhere to while enjoying themselves in the wilderness. The information in the following paragraphs is intended to provide you with an overview of state regulations.




A fishing license is required unless you live and fish on the land where the pond is located or the river flows through, in which case you do not need one. Fishing is permitted without a license for the disabled, the blind, and children under the age of sixteen.

The state of Illinois does not require non-residents under the age of 16 to obtain a fishing license, but those over the age of 16 must purchase one from the state. If you’re in the area but don’t really need an annual license, you can purchase a sports fishing license that is valid for 24 hours. Salmon and trout fishing require separate stamps, which must be purchased by all anglers.


Bait fishing

Some of the regulations are intended to keep the practice of bait fishing under control. If you require bait and are eager to obtain it from the rivers or lakes of Illinois, the following information will be of assistance to you.

To catch shad, minnows, or crayfish, you can use nets, shad scoops, and minnow seines, among other methods. It is permissible to use them as bait, but it is not permissible to sell or trade them. The size of cast nets, scoops, and minnow seines are all clearly defined in terms of their length and width.

Traps can be used to catch crayfish, but they are also subject to strict regulations. They can’t be wider than 24 inches or longer than 36 inches in length.

The use of bluegill as bait is permitted in the state of Illinois as long as it takes place on the same body of water from which the bluegill were taken.


Techniques and equipment

Despite the fact that culling is prohibited in Illinois, some tournaments allow for it because it is regarded as a catch-and-release system rather than actual culling.

Snagging and bowfishing are both prohibited by law, and the regulations are stringent when it comes to methods, species, and location of the fishing. Nonetheless, if you follow the rules to the letter, you can use both.

You can go ice fishing in Illinois as long as you don’t use more than three poles with two hooks on each line and don’t use more than three hooks on each line. If you prefer, you can swap out the poles for tip-ups if you so desire. Furthermore, you are not permitted to cut a hole that is wider than 12 inches in diameter.

Bullfrogs can be harvested, but you must use traditional methods such as hook and line or bow and arrow in order to do so.



The catch of white or black crappie is not restricted statewide, and the same is true for bluegill and redear sunfish unless a site-specific regulation establishes a catch limit for those species of fish.

In addition, striped bass, white bass, and yellow bass can be caught and harvested in large quantities so long as they are not longer than 17 inches in length, as long as they are not larger than 17 inches in length.

Fishing for these species is only permitted for specimens larger than 17 inches in length. There is a limit of three harvests per day if the body of water is not in any particular state of condition. If you’re on the Mississippi between Illinois and Iowa or between Illinois and Missouri, the daily limit is 25 or 30 dollars, depending on where you are.

The daily bag limit for largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass is six, and the daily bag limit for smallmouth bass is three in all streams and rivers other than the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Catch-and-release regulations are in effect on some rivers and tributaries from the 1st of April to the 15th of June, and they apply to certain species.

You are only allowed to catch one muskellunge or tiger muskie per day, and it must be at least 36 inches in length to qualify.

You are only allowed to keep a total of five trout and salmon per day, as well as two paddlefish. Each person is allowed to keep six walleyes, six saugers, or six saugeyes (their hybrid), but they must be measured because they must be 14 inches long.