New law cuts cost of fishing license fees

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois  State Rep. Bob Rita has a new solution in Illinois law for anyone interested in fishing across the state but not so sure about paying the license fee.


Rita, D-Blue Island, this year led the push for House Bill 2317. The bill significantly reduces the license fee for sport fishing or spearing for anyone 26 years old and older wanting to fish here. The bill passed the Illinois House and Senate earlier this spring and was recently signed into law.


Today, Illinois residents who want to fish pay $14.50 for an annual license if they are between 16 and 64 years old. Veterans and seniors get discounts off those fees. Non-residents pay $31 for an annual license, or $15 for a three-day license.


As of Jan. 1, 2024 under the new law, the fees will drop to a one-time annual fee of $5 for Illinois residents, and $10 for non-residents. Those qualifying for the new discount must be 26 or older and have not purchased a fishing license in the last 10 years.


Rita worked with the Illinois Environmental Council and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on the legislation, and it was modeled after a successful program in Wisconsin to encourage more fishing license sales.


“Outdoor recreation is a key component in protecting our natural resources. We hope that this legislation will encourage a new generation of anglers to pick up a fishing pole for the first time and discover the beautiful spaces Illinois has to offer,” said Eliot Clay, State Programs Director for the Illinois Environmental Council.


Original estimates found thousands of people could possibly take advantage of the new fishing license fee discounts.


“Leader Rita is a strong advocate for his constituents and anglers across the state,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Natalie Phelps Finnie. “I appreciate his efforts to further IDNR’s mission to increase participation in fishing, and I look forward to his support as IDNR continues to reinforce the importance of purchasing fishing licenses to support conservation initiatives in Illinois.


Rita, who enjoys fishing himself, hopes the change will make it easier for more people to enjoy the sport.


“Properly licensed fishing is good for our economy, good for our environment, and good for our souls,” Rita said. “I encourage anyone interested in getting into fishing or getting back into it to take advantage of this great opportunity to save a little money and get out there on the waterways next year.”