Section 810.15 Statewide and Site Specific Bowfishing (Archery/Spear Methods) Regulations


a) Legal Methods of Taking

Aquatic life, as listed by species in subsection (b), may be taken by means of legal bowfishing devices, including a pitchfork, underwater spear gun, bow and arrow or bow and arrow device, spear or gig. A valid sport fishing license is required for taking aquatic life under this Section. Aquatic life taken by these means shall not be sold or bartered. No other aquatic life (e.g., fish, amphibian or reptile species) may be taken in this State by these means. It is unlawful to discharge any gun or bow and arrow device along, upon, across or from any public right-of-way or highway in this State. [520 ILCS 5/2.33(r)]


b) Species

Only fish, amphibian and reptile species listed may be taken by bowfishing and other legal methods and in accordance with harvest limits identified for each. Fish, amphibian and reptile species permitted to be taken by bowfishing and other archery/spear fishing legal methods in Illinois waters include:


1) Order Petromyzontiformes


Family Petromyzontidae (Non-Native Species):


Sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus (Linnaeus)


2) Order Lepisosteiformes


Family Lepisosteidae (Native Species):


Spotted gar − Lepisosteus oculatus (Winchell)


Longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus (Linnaeus)


Shortnose gar Lepisosteus platostomus (Rafinesque)


Alligator Gar Atractosteus spatula (Lacepede) native


3) Order Amiiformes


Family Amiidae (Native Species):


Bowfin Amia calva (Linnaeus)


4) Order Clupeiformes


Family Clupeidae (Native Species):


Gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum (Lesueur)


5) Order Cypriniformes


Family Cyprinidae (Non-Native Species):


Grass carp − Ctenopharyngodon idella (Valenciennes)


Common carp − Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus)


Silver carp − Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes)


Bighead carp − Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (Richardson)


Goldfish − Carassius auratus (Linnaeus)


Black carp Mylopharyngodon piceue


Family Cobitidae (Non-Native Species):


Oriental weatherfish Misgurnus


Anguillicaudatus (Cantor)


Family Catostomidae (Native Species):


River carpsucker − Carpiodes carpio (Rafinesque)


Quillback carpsucker − Carpiodes cyprinus (Lesueur)


Highfin carpsucker − Carpiodes velifer (Rafinesque)


White sucker − Catostomus commersoni (Lacepede)


Blue sucker − Cycleptus elongates (Lesueur)


Smallmouth buffalo − Ictiobus bubalus (Rafinesque)


Bigmouth buffalo − Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes)


Black buffalo − Ictiobus niger (Rafinesque)


Spotted sucker − Minytrema melanops (Rafinesque)


Silver redhorse − Moxostoma anisurum (Rafinesque)


Black redhorse − Moxostoma duquesnei (Lesueur)


Golden redhorse − Moxostoma erythrurum (Rafinesque)


Shorthead redhorse − Moxostoma macrolepidotum (Lesueur)


6) Order Characiformes


Family Serrasalmidae (Non-Native Species):


Pacu Callisoma spp. (Eigenmann and Kennedy)


7) Order Siluriformes


Family Ictaluridae (Native Species):


Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque)


Blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus (Lesueur)


Flathead catfish Pylodictis olivaris (Rafinesque)


Yellow bullhead Ameiurus natalis (Lesueur)


Brown bullhead Ameiurus nebulosus (Lesueur)


Black bullhead Ameiurus melas (Rafinesque)


Family Ictaluridae (Non-Native Species):


White catfish Ameiurus catus (Linnaeus)


8) Order Perciformes


Family Scianidae (Native Species):


Freshwater drum Aplodinotus grunniens (Rafinesque)


9) Order Cichliformes


Family Cichlidae (Non-Native Species):


Tilapia Tilapia spp. (Smith)


10) Order Gobbiformes


Family Gobiidae (Non-Native Species):


Round goby Neogobius malanistomus (Pallas)


11) Order Anabantiformes


Family Channidae (Non-Native Species):


Northern snakehead Channa argus (Cantor)


12) Order Anura


Family Ranidae (Native Species):


American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus (Shaw)


13) Order Testudines


Family Chelydridae (Native Species):


Common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentine (Linnaeus)


c) Non-Native Fish Species

No live possession of non-native fish species listed in subsection (b) is permitted, with the exception of common carp and goldfish.


d) Waters Open to Bowfishing and Other Legal Archery and Spearfishing Methods


1) Illinois waters open to bowfishing and other legal methods include all public rivers and streams noted in 17 Ill. Adm. Code 3704.Appendix A, except as restricted by subsections (d)(3) through (14).


2) All public site specific waters as noted in Section 810.45.


3) Catfish species may only be taken in rivers and connected public (wholly accessible by boat) backwaters (see list in Section 810.15) as noted in subsections (d)(4) through (15).


4) Mississippi River connected public (wholly accessible by boat) backwaters, including that portion of the Kaskaskia River below the navigation lock and dam, except:


A) Quincy Bay, including Quincy Bay Waterfowl Management Area.


B) Spring Lake in the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge.


C) Mark Twain U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge Waters (except by special permit).


5) Illinois River and connected public (wholly accessible by boat) backwaters from Route 89 highway bridge downstream, except for:


A) U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Refuge Waters.


B) Meredosia Lake in Cass and Morgan Counties during the central zone duck season.


C) Clear Lake in Mason County 7 days prior to and during the central zone duck season.


D) Route 89 highway bridge to Starved Rock Dam for the commercial removal of Asian carp only by a limited number of restricted period contracts.


6) Wabash River.


7) Embarras River.


8) Sangamon River, downstream of Belt Route 48 southwest of Decatur to mouth in Cass County.


9) Kaskaskia River south of Route U.S. 50 Bridge to mouth in Randolph County.


10) Little Wabash River.


11) Big Muddy River.


12) Skillet Fork.


13) Cache River from Route 51 downstream to the Mississippi River via Cache Diversion Channel, but not including that portion of the Cache River between the Cache Diversion Channel Levee and the Ohio River.


14) Saline River in Gallatin and Saline Counties.


15) Ohio River, except for:


A) Lock and Dam 52 downstream to a line perpendicular with the end of the longest lock wall, including the circular cell portion.


B) Lock and Dam 53 downstream to a line perpendicular with the end of the longest lock wall, including the circular cell portion.


C) Smithland Dam downstream to a line perpendicular to the end of the outer lock wall.


D) Within 50 yards of the mouth of any tributary or stream.


e) Bowfishing for common snapping turtles is not permitted in the following Illinois counties: Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Saline, Williamson, Jackson, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Massac, Pulaski and Alexander.


(Source: Amended at 44 Ill. Reg. 3916, effective February 26, 2020)