February 1, 2024

2024 Fishing Regulations Guide Available

A image of the cover of the Illinois Fishing 2024 Regulation Information guide with a large close-up of a freshwater brown and green fish with sharp teeth.

Photos courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries except the pallid sturgeon, which is courtesy the Missouri Department of Conservation.

One of Illinois’ popular Illinois sportfish, the saugeye (sauger x walleye hybrid), graces the cover of the 2024 Illinois Fishing Information Guide. Commonly stocked in many Illinois waters, this fish was collected at Argyle Lake State Park (McDonough County) during a fall 2023 electrofishing survey conducted by Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Fisheries personnel, including District Fisheries Biologist Rob Hilsabeck who snapped the photo.

Mike McClelland, Chief of the Division remarked that surveying fish populations is just one aspect of the work of fisheries biologists.

“Most of the work undertaken by the Division of Fisheries is funded through the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Program, not Illinois General Revenue funds,” McClelland explained. “This edition of the regulations book includes a detailed explanation of the work that is funded through fishing license sales—purchases that help ensure the future of fishing in Illinois—and a tax on fishing equipment and boat gas. That revenue supports IDNR fisheries programs, such as fishery and hatchery management, habitat development and protection, endangered species programs, and fishing and conservation education.”

IDNR Division of Fisheries staff updates the Illinois Fishing Information guide each year to provide a comprehensive look at fishing in Illinois along with an updated summary of statewide and site-specific regulations organized by the body of water at which they apply. The new edition contains regulations that take effect on April 1, 2024 and runs through March 31, 2025.

Scanning through a copy—electronic or paper—of the latest annual Illinois Fishing Information guide, the first thing that may strike you is a new, updated design for the pages highlighting site specific sportfish regulations. With sport fish licenses expiring annually on March 31, and many anglers already planning their fishing outings for the 2024 season, these pages hold a wealth of valuable information on fishing regulations and places to fish.

Also new this year is information on Illinois’ Lake Sturgeon Recovery Project.

A photo collage with three photos one on top of the other of people holding up fish. The first photo has two people in yellow waders holding up large brown fish with pointy snout. The second photo down has a person in a red raincoat holding up a white fish with a skinny long pointy snout. The last photo on the bottom is of a person in a brown camouflage coat holding up a smaller brown fish with a skinny pointy snout.

“Lake sturgeon are one of three species of sturgeons found in Illinois and are a state-endangered fish native to the Mississippi River and its tributaries,” noted Nerissa McClelland, an IDNR Illinois River Fisheries Biologist and coordinator of the 2024 Illinois Fishing Information guide. “Recovery and management of lake sturgeon is complex and requires implementation of a long-term, basin-wide effort involving everyone from resource managers to hatchery staff, researchers, anglers and conservation leaders.”

In partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11,000 Mississippi-strain juvenile lake sturgeon were released to Illinois waters in June 2023. For additional information on the Illinois Lake Sturgeon Recovery Program, check out page 68 of the 2024 Illinois Fishing Information guide or follow I Fish Illinois posts.

The two other species of sturgeons found in Illinois are the pallid sturgeon, which is a state and federally endangered species and must be immediately released, and the shovelnose sturgeon, the smallest of the three species and legally harvested by sport and commercial anglers. Additional information on these species is also present on page 68 of the 2024 Illinois Fishing Information guide.

Big fish always are attention getters and the 2023 additions to the state-record fish list found on page 3 of the guide certainly will be of interest. Among the list are three record fish submitted by bowfishers. A 20-pound, 4-ounce freshwater drum was reeled in by Phillip Albert in February 2023 from Sangchris Lake in Christian County. In June 2023, Scott Battin garnered two state-record fish from a private pond in Logan County in June 2023, one being a silver carp that topped the scales at 50 pounds and the second an amazing 92-pound, 1.6-ounce bighead carp.

A man poses with a child while holding up a large fish. In the background is a freshwater pond in front of a mowed green grassy area.

The guide includes many additional features popular with anglers, such as the dates of the annual Illinois Free Fishing Days, which will occur Friday, June14 through Monday June 17, 2024. Free Fishing Days is a great time to introduce potential new anglers to what may become a lifetime activity.

If you are interested current updates throughout the year, fish stocking data, fish population information, other fisheries communications and updates that include any needed emergency changes to rules, follow I Fish Illinois posts.

The annual regulation guide is available online, or anglers may pick up a copy at many gas stations and bait shops throughout the state.

Kathy Andrews Wright is retired from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources where she was editor of Outdoor Illinois magazine. She is currently the editor of OutdoorIllinois Journal.

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