Are Illinois Fishing Tournaments in Jeopardy?

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources dropped a bombshell on Nov. 1, 2021 that put tournament fishing in jeopardy at state-owned, managed or maintained facilities by pushing a decade-old rule. This rule calls for a $25 permit fee plus taxing tournament organizations 10% of gross earnings that includes entry fees, sponsor money, 50/50 drawings and any fees associated with running a tournament.

This is a death blow to small clubs and weekend tournaments who are not profit centers and, in turn, has moved most tournaments to non-owned lakes and ramps. Those ramps will be saturated and fisheries could be harmed from over-fishing. This new administrative rule includes all types of tournaments including bass, crappie and catfish tournaments.

Deminimous license fee additions would have been a much better approach to find additional funds for the IDNR with less adverse impact and without putting tournament anglers in the crosshairs of more taxes.

National organizations have shied away from bringing their events to Illinois previously but there is no question they will do so even more now. I have written two articles, both attached, outlining the new process and we continue to organize those impacted and work within guidelines to fight this unfair practice. Pontoon owners, jetskiers and other recreational boaters who use the same facilities do not pay any additional fees for use of the same parks.

Here are the two articles as background for the new rules being put in place in Illinois: