Illinois Code of Angling Ethics
Recreational fishing in Illinois is not only an important leisure activity, but also a vital part of our economy. A survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 873,000 anglers fished in Illinois and the associated dollars spent on fishing trips totaled $774 million. With those kinds of numbers, it is in all of our best interest to keep the waters in Illinois healthy and our fisheries stable for generations to come.
To increase the awareness of the important role we all play in protecting our fisheries, anglers are asked to embrace a Code of Angling Ethics to serve as a reminder that we are the stewards of our valuable aquatic resources.
Anglers pledge to:
- Have a valid fishing license for all members of your party.
- Understand and follow state and lake-specific regulations. Compliance to regulations directly plays a role in sustaining a healthy recreational fishery and benefits fishing for the future.
- Strive to keep the watershed clean and minimize the impact you may have when fishing. Avoid degrading stream and lake banks and properly dispose of debris and trash, including monofilament line.
- Respect property and share waters respectfully with others.
- Avoid the introduction of aquatic nuisance species to protect the integrity of Illinois lakes and streams. Prevent the transport of unwanted plants, fish, and other aquatic animals by thoroughly cleaning all recreational equipment and disposing of live bait in the trash.
- Practice best handling guidelines for catch-and-release fishing. Fish should be released with minimal harm help ensure post-release survival and promote healthy fish populations.
- Keep no more fish than needed for consumption.
- Take care when anchoring to minimize damage to the aquatic environment. Be aware that there may be nesting fish close to the shore during the spawning season.
- Preserve the sport fishing tradition by sharing knowledge, skills, techniques, and ethics. Help others to understand sound fisheries conservation practices.
Fishing licenses can be purchased online through the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). A license is required for fishing in all Illinois waters, including lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. Licenses are not required for anglers who are under the age of 16, blind or disabled anglers, or residents on active military service.
All Fishing regulations are available where fishing licenses are sold, or can be downloaded at: http://www.ifishillinois.org/