Fishing is one of the most exciting pastimes and ways of life across the world, and here in the United States, we have true, never-wavering appreciation for the word “free.” Whether that means freedom of religion or free hot dogs on the 4th of July, Americans, for the most part, love having a good time while pinching their pennies in the process. For all lovers of the outdoors, there’s an annual tradition put on by the Fish and Wildlife Departments of each state that allows for a perfect day to enjoy the great outdoors without spending a dime to get in anywhere: free fishing day. Free fishing day is a tradition celebrated nationwide, wherein people from all around the state flock to their favorite fishing spots to enjoy a day of free fishing for the entire family. Taking the kids out for a day of fishing is an excellent way to spend time together, and maybe even take something home to show for it. Anglers across the nation wait in anticipation every year for these events, excited for the chance to get out of the house and enjoy some quality time in the outdoors with that special someone, all-the-while remaining frugal. Rules and regulations vary by state, as well as when Free Fishing Days are put on the calendar. These days it’s especially hard to get all the info you need in one place, so here’s a state-by-state breakdown of upcoming Free Fishing Days to be sure to look out for.
According to outdooralabama.com, Free Fishing Day will be on Saturday, June 13, 2020. This will coincide with National Fishing and Boating week, June 6-14th.
As of the writing of this article, Alaska is the only state in the country that does not hold any Free Fishing Day traditions or events. In a state that’s economy relies heavily on utilizing its natural resources, I can’t say I don’t understand.
Leading into the National Fishing and Boating week, Free Fishing Day for the state of Arizona falls on Saturday, June 6th, 2020. Arizona offers a wide variety of species to fish for throughout their state waterways. The Arizona Game and Fish Dept. allows for one free day of fishing a year, making this a special occasion that Arizonans can look forward to.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission held a week of Free Fishing Days in the state of Arkansas earlier this year, opening up a full nine days of free fishing. The state is also expected to host another free fishing event the second weekend in June, this year going from June 12th-14th.
Whether it’s an 1849 gold rush or the modern day, it seems like there are always folks headed out to California. For being a state with a population of nearly 40 million, the natural wonders and rich history of iconic Americana make California a beautiful state for city-dwellers and outdoorsy people alike. The Golden State is lucky enough to get two Free Fishing Days per year, with dates scheduled for Saturday, July 4th and Saturday, Sept. 5th. Check wildlife.ca.gov for more information.
Free fishing days in the Centennial State are part of the statewide annual Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled for June 6-7th, 2020. Check the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website for more info on fishing locations, tackle, regulations, etc.
Free fishing day falls on May 9th, however there are also available dates where anglers can get a free 1-day fishing license. More information on fishing regulations and events can be found at portal.ct.gov
The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife free fishing days work in conjunction with National Fishing Week, with free fishing for anglers on June 6-7th, 2020. Delaware has a rich variety of fish species to fish from, and on the two free fishing days of the year, you can reap the rewards without spending a dime on a license.
Blessed with abundant freshwater and saltwater fishing, the Sunshine state holds several “License-Free” fishing days throughout the year, both for freshwater and saltwater anglers. All standard regulations apply, check myfwc.com for more information.
Free Fishing Day in Georgia is held in accordance with National Fishing and Hunting Day, which falls on September 26th, 2020. General information about fishing in the Peach State can be found at georgiawildlife.com.
On vacation in Hawaii and want to fish? Well, friend, you’re in luck. It’s free! There is no requirement for a residential or non-residential fishing license while fishing in Hawaii, as long as you don’t try to sell your catch. Information on free fishing 365-days-a-year can be found at the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources page.
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, free fishing day falls on the second Saturday of every June, making the upcoming June 13, 2020, a day for fun and fishing, no license required.
Free fishing days in the Land of Lincoln are scheduled for June 19-22nd, 2020. Updates, regulations, fishing spots, and more can be found on ifishillinois.com
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has alloted for 4 different free fishing days to fall on various dates during the year. The first is scheduled for May 3rd, while two more days are scheduled in celebration of National Fishing Week as well, making June 6-7th also free fishing days. Finally, one last free day of the year is scheduled for National Fishing and Hunting day, September 26th, 2020. Locals can check In.gov for more information on fishing in Indiana.
The state of Iowa regulates that Free Fishing Weekend falls on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of June, in accordance with National Fishing week. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources welcomes families statewide to get outdoors and enjoy the fishing that the Hawkeye state has in store.
According to ksoutdoors.com, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website, Free Fishing days are scheduled for June 6-7th, 2020 in accordance with National Fishing week. Other information, and updates can also be found here.
Kentucky also offers Free Fishing Days the first weekend of June, June 6-7th, due to National Fishing Week. There will be no need for a license to fish these dates. Check fw.ky.gov for more information on fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation in the state of Kentucky.
Free fishing days for Louisiana are scheduled for June 13-14th, the second Saturday and Sunday of the Month. Louisiana residents are invited to spend the weekend fishing without the need for a license. This state has a large variety of species to go after, and the state Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries hold the annual free weekend following the wrap-up of National Fishing and Boating week, June 6th-12th.
Based on schedules created by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the state gets two Free Fishing Weekends per year. The first of 2020 took place back in February, while the upcoming free fishing weekend is scheduled for May 30-31st, 2020.
Maryland has three Free Fishing Days, two on the first two Saturdays of June, June 6th and June 13th, as well as a Free Fishing Day to celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources sets these as opportunities for free fishing on an annual basis, allowing residents to make free fishing days a yearly tradition for the whole family to enjoy.
The State of Massachusetts has both freshwater and saltwater Free Fishing Days allotted for dates in June. Dates for free fishing in freshwater falls on June 6-7th, adhering to the National Fishing Week festivities, while free fishing days for saltwater anglers take place on Father’s Day weekend, and dates for that weekend are June 20-21st, 2020. Visit www.mass.gov for fishing information and updates.
Michigan has an upcoming Free Fishing Weekend planned for June 13th & 14th, 2020. The state holds two free weekends per year, and while the Michigan DNR already held the first free weekend earlier this year, residents of Michigan look forward to tossing in a line during two upcoming days of free fishing.
Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 lakes, is said to be home to some of the best fishing in North America. World famous for its Walleye, Northern Pike and Bass fishing, Minnesota’s free fishing days are not an opportunity to pass up. The Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources has several free fishing dates lined up throughout the year, with more than one holiday or event being celebrated with free fishing dates. One such holiday coming up from June 5th through 7th, 2020 is “Take a Kid Fishing” day, which allows anglers to fish for free, as long as they bring a kid younger than 16 years old along with them. Minnesota regularly holds these events throughout the year, as fishing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes seems to be a source of a lot of revenue for the state. Even sooner than that, Take a Mom Fishing weekend is scheduled for May 9th & 10th, which is an entire weekend of free fishing in celebration of Mother’s day and the mothers that make it all possible. In January, Minnesota holds the first free fishing day of the year, “Take a Kid Ice Fishing day.” This day gives families another opportunity to get out and fish, just this time it’s quite a bit colder, and you’re fishing through the ice. With those dates already lined up for January of 2021, Minnesota has free fishing opportunities planned out for the remainder of the year.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has marked June 1st & 2nd on its calendar as Free Fishing days in celebration of National Fishing and Boating week. During these days, anglers and fishermen from around the state may take to the river for a day of Free fishing, including the waiving of required permits for those fishing in State parks. In addition to these dates, fishing without a license is also permitted on July 4th, however those fishing within state parks must still have a permit to do so on this date. Mississippi’s MDWFP welcomes all guests for days of free fishing and fun.
Missouri’s Department of Conservation allots the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Monday of the month of June as the state’s official “Free Fishing Weekend, which this year will fall on June 6th and 7th. An important aspect of free fishing days are the opportunity for those new to fishing to give it a try before they spend the money for a fishing license. After all, why not give it a try? It’s free! Of course, statewide fishing rules and regulations are still in effect, but anglers can enjoy at least two free dates at the beginning of June as the fishing season starts to pick back up.
Montana: Known for its wide-open spaces and great big skies, one treasure you’ll never run out of in the Treasure State? Places to fish. With a wide variety of species and fishing locations, locals from Montana look forward to Father’s Day Weekend every year, a weekend dedicated to catching fish and spending some time with your old man. Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks mark’s Saturday and Sunday, June 20 & 21st as the dates to add to the calendar for this year.
Fishing in the state of Nebraska can be harsh. The state regularly has harsh, hot summers and frigid, miles-below-freezing winters, which can sometimes make fishing a challenge. It takes a lot for a fish to grow up and become strong, and having endured such harsh weather all their lives, fish in Nebraska have got to be tough. For those locals or those planning on fishing in Nebraska, Free Fishing Day has been scheduled by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for the Saturday before Memorial Day, as it is every year. This year’s date falls on May 23rd, giving anglers a chance to bring home the big one.
Nevada is home to more than 60 native fish species, with the most notable species for the state being the famous Striped Bass out of Lake Mead, the largest man-made Lake in the United States. While people come from all over the country for the warm-water striper bite, making Saturday, June 13th, Nevada’s Free Fishing Day, a dream for those wanting to get in on the action without breaking the bank. According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, free fishing day here in the desert always falls on the second Saturday in June, so whenever you’re planning that next fishing trip out to Lake Mead, maybe shoot for that date, you and your buddies just might fish for free!
If you’re a New Hampshire resident looking for a day of free fishing, it looks like you’re out of luck until next winter. New Hampshire Fish and Game has already held their annual day of free fishing on January 18, 2020. Fishing the East coast is a challenge all its own, and in New Hampshire, where anglers can enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing, January seems to be the best month to allow the locals and tourists a chance to fish for free.
New Jersey’s Dept. of Environmental Protection has been holding both Spring and Fall Free Fishing Days since 2015, and with this year’s dates scheduled to be on June 6th and October 17th, fishermen and women from all around the state can take the opportunity to go out and fish for free on these dates.
There are free fishing days scheduled for New Mexico each year, with the annual fishing event day typically taking place on June 6th of this year. New Mexico Game and Fish put on this little shindig every year as a way to let families get out on the water to spend time together in the outdoors. Each year, more and more people flock to their nearest fishing holes, and anglers in the great state of New Mexico are no different.
When you think of New York, the first image that pops into your head is most likely New York City, with the towering buildings that reach for the sky, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, things like that. However, anybody knows that there is much more to New York than the big NYC. Upstate New Yorkers can appreciate a good day of fishing just like any of the rest of us, and it’s even better when it’s a day of free fishing for the whole family to appreciate, but what about 5 days a year of license-free fishing? New York’s Free Fishing days are Feb. 15th & 16th for President’s Day weekend, June 27th & 28th for Free Fishing Weekend, and one more on November 11th for Veterans Day. Check dec.nyc.gov for more information on fishing in New York.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission only allots for one Free Fishing day of the year, which is always scheduled for the 4th of July in celebration of US Independence. On this one day per year, which is typically already a free fishing day in some states, anybody can toss in a line and fish in both freshwater and saltwater spots completely free for the day, no license or trout stamp required.
For those anglers up there in North Dakota, you’ve got a free fishing weekend coming your way. The North Dakota Game and Fish board has made June 6th & 7th a Free Fishing Weekend in celebration of National Fishing and Boating week, as well as the last Free Fishing weekend of the year, December 26th & 27th.
Free Fishing Days are coming up for the great state of Ohio, with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources releasing a new set of guidelines for fishing in 2020, along with announcing Free Fishing Days are upcoming, scheduled for June 20-21, 2020. From now on, the free fishing weekend will be held on the weekend including the third Sunday in June.
Like most other states, the Wildlife Department of Oklahoma has planned their state’s free fishing days in adherence to National Fishing and Boating Week. June 6th & 7th are expected to be some of the biggest days of fishing nationwide, as they are every year, and fishing in Oklahoma will be no different.
Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife holds several free fishing weekends throughout the year, and as the summer months start to set in, another weekend fishing on the house is soon upon us. Although the state already enjoyed a free fishing weekend back on February 15th & 16th, June 6th & 7th are set for Oregon residents to try their fishing luck, as well as another two weekends this year, those being August 15th & 16th and November 27th & 28th. This is the final fishing weekend of the year, wrapping up 2020’s free events.
Free fishing days are a pleasure whenever they roll around, and when you’re really itching to get out on the water and fish, these events are what some people are praying for. Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission schedule no-license needed, free fishing days on the Sunday before Memorial Day rolls around each year, in addition to another free day for the 4th of July. All rules, regulations, and restrictions will still be in effect, however anglers of all ages are welcome to spend these days fishing for free.
Rhode Island has opened its spring trout season, and with that comes the excitement and anticipation of Free Fishing Days! The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has opened May 2nd & 3rd as free fishing days in the state. The trout bite is sweet, and the free bite is sweeter.
South Carolina is easily one of the most infamous spots in the United States for fishing. Ever heard of a “Carolina Rig” and wonder where that term came from? Well, there you go! South Carolina’s Free Fishing Days are held every year on the same days: Memorial Day, and the 4th of July. In-state residents and out-of-state visitors are welcomed to come and enjoy what fishing in SC has to offer.
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks is holding their annual Free Fishing Weekend and State Parks Open House from Friday, May 15th through Sunday, May 17th, 2020. This will allow state residents the chance to visit their favorite fishing locations, including State Parks, and have a great time fishing and enjoying the beauty of their state. Anglers around the state are welcome to try their luck at fishing and enjoy the outdoors.
Following along with what many other states have done, Tennessee plans their annual Free Fishing Days in accordance with National Fishing and Boating week as well, however the state’s Wilderness Resources Agency offers fishermen the chance to fish all week long. Starting on June 6th and running through June 12th, 2020, Tennessee residents and visitors can spend some time at some of Tennessee’s best fishing spots and fish for free without having to purchase a license.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, let’s just hope the fish are too. For one prime day a year, Texans and visitors of the Lone Star can visit any of the state’s hundreds of fishing spots and fish for free. In accordance with National Fishing and Boating week, the Texas Parks and Wildlife service have made the call: June 6th, 2020 is the day to get out on the water and see what’s biting, especially on a day where your wallet isn’t.
Utah’s Department of Natural Resources also adheres to June 6th as the state’s official Free Fishing Day. Utah is a state famous for its excellent trout fishing, and as the spring trout season starts to pick up, the early days of June are the perfect time to get out on the water with your family and enjoy the natural beauty of the Earth. Who knows, if you play your cards right, you just might bring home a free dinner.
The state of Vermont is known for its beautiful trees in the fall, world-famous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and Bernie Sanders, but what most don’t know is that Vermont has excellent Brook trout fishing. Vermont’s DFW, the state holds two annual Free Fishing Days, the first of which is held on the fourth Saturday of the month, which has already taken place this year. The next free day annually falls on the second Saturday in June, making June 13th the next free day of fishing.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is getting a head start on the action this year. As we all know by now, National Fishing and Boating Week takes place in June of every year, this year beginning on June 6th. Virginia’s Free Fishing days are scheduled for June 5th through 7th, giving Virginia residents and visitors of the state alike a head start.
There’s no place quite like the Pacific Northwest, and with a state like Washington, rich in natural beauty and resources, it’s no surprise that the locals get excited for free fishing days. Washington state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife sticks to scheduling free days around National Fishing and Boating week as well, making them one of many states to celebrate the week with free fishing opportunities.
Take me home, country roads, to the place, where I can fish for free! West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources’ free weekend falls on the second Saturday and Sunday in June annually. This year’s events will take place on Saturday, June 13th and 14th, and will allow visitors and West Virginia residents to fish for free, making “almost heaven” a little bit closer to the real thing.
Wisconsin has been America’s Dairyland for as long as we can remember, but one aspect of the cheese state that gives the other states a run for their money is its whopping number of lakes in the region. Sitting at around 15,000 naturally-occuring lakes, Wisconsin officially has more lakes than Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Anglers can enjoy those 15,000 lakes and reservoirs on Free Fishing weekend, this year being put on by the Wisconsin Division of Natural Resources on June 6th & 7th, honoring National Fishing and Boating week. Wisconsin also holds a Winter Free Fishing weekend, with dates for January 2021 already planned out.
As the least-populated state in the nation, beating out Alaska, it would make sense for Wyoming to be way down at the bottom, huh? With a population of 578,759 people in the entire state, there’s not a whole lot going on up in Wyoming…that is, until it’s free fishing day. Free fishing day for Wyoming also adheres to National Fishing and Boating week, making June 6th the go-to fishing day for most of the United States. Wyoming Game and Fish invite anglers of all ages to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the state and its wildlife.
Free fishing is a tradition that we get to look forward to every year because of the way it makes us feel. Humans have been gathering and hunting for hundreds of thousands of years, and fishing in the modern day is a way for us to pay homage to our ancestors who came before us and showed us the way. Now we are living in a world where everything costs money, and whether or not we’re spending our time doing what we enjoy doing, time is far more valuable. If the “free” aspect of free fishing is what you enjoy the most, all power to you, but it’s spending our time doing what we enjoy and enjoying being with those that we’re closest to that we start to realize that “free” fishing day is free for a reason. Everybody deserves an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the world around us, and when we continue fishing, we keep that idea and spirit alive. Now that is priceless.