Free Fishing Days 2019 – National Fishing and Boating Weekend

Fishing is not only a fun way to introduce someone to the outdoors, but it is a vital source of money for keeping all of our states full of wildlife, open spaces and recreational opportunities in the outdoors. For these reasons, each state offers free fishing weekends for those unable to immediately pay for the necessary licenses and permits and those still wondering if fishing is for them. Note the list of weekends and dates at the end of this article for free fishing in your state.

To many, especially children, the thought of fishing seems as daunting as moving from the old neighborhood and going to a new school.

How do you begin? What’s with all these licenses, fees and rules? How do I know I am doing this right?

Free Fishing Days 2019
Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash

To those who are fish challenged, states throughout the U.S. offer free fishing weekends—and often more than just one weekend—to whittle this thing call fishing down to its bare bones.

No need for a license, special permits or a chunk of change to be legal. All you need is your rod, reel, tackle and a point in the right direction.

Best first fishing tip: Check your state’s fish and wildlife department’s website for everything you need to know about your free fishing weekend(s).

These sites will also let you know where the easiest or best pickings are located. Some states stock lakes or streams as close to urban areas as possible—if not right inside your city—in order to keep you interested via success in catching.

Your State’s Free Fishing Days 2019

AlabamaSecond Saturday in June. June 8.
ArkansasSecond full weekend in June. Free Fishing Weekend begins at noon on June 7 and ends at midnight on June 9.
ArizonaFirst Saturday in June. June 1.
CaliforniaFirst Saturday in July. Saturday, July 6 and Saturday, August 31
ColoradoFirst full weekend of June. June 1-2.
ConnecticutMay 11. CT offers 2 free fishing license days Sunday June 16 and Saturday Aug 10 (must get the free one day license)
DCFirst full week of June. From Saturday, June 1 to Sunday, June 9.
DelawareFirst full weekend of June. June 1-2.
FloridaFirst Saturday and Sunday in April (freshwater)
Second Saturday and Sunday in June (freshwater)
First Saturday and Sunday in June (saltwater)
First Saturday in September (saltwater)
Saturday following Thanksgiving (saltwater)
GeorgiaJune 1, June 8, September 28, 2019
Hawaii365 days a year (marine)
IowaFirst Friday, Saturday and Sunday that land in June: June 7-9, 2019.
IdahoSecond Saturday every June. June 8.
IllinoisFather’s Day weekend in June. June 15-16.
IndianaApril 20, May 18, and June 1-2.
KansasFirst full weekend in June. June 1-2.
KentuckyFirst full weekend in June. June 1-2.
LouisianaSecond Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9
MaineFree Fishing Weekends in Maine are February 16-17, 2019 and June 1-2, 2019.
MarylandJune 1, June 8, and July 4 Independence Day.
MassachusettsFirst Saturday & Sunday in June (Freshwater). Fathers Day weekend June 15-16 (Saltwater)                      
MichiganFeb 16-17 and Second weekend in June 8-9. 
MinnesotaMN Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend
Jan 19-21, 2019 MN residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16.

Take a Mom Fishing Weekend—May 11-12, 2019
Minnesota resident moms fish free.

Take a Kid Fishing Weekend—June 7-9, 2019
Minnesota residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16.
MissouriSecond Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.
MississippiJune 2-3 and Independence day July 4
MontanaFather’s Day weekend. June 15-16.
North CarolinaJuly 4 Independence Day
North DakotaFirst weekend in June June 1-2. Last weekend in Dec. Dec 28-29 (free ice fishing days)
NebraskaFree Fishing/Free Park Entry day on Saturday, May 18.
New HampshireThird Saturday in January. Jan 19.
First Saturday in June. June 1.
New JerseySecond Saturday in June 8. October 19.
New MexicoFirst Saturday in June 1 and the last Saturday in September 28 (National Hungting and Fishing Day)
New YorkFebruary 16-17, 2019
June 29-30, 2019
September 28, 2019
November 11, 2019
NevadaSecond Saturday in June. June 8. 
OhioFirst Saturday and Sunday in May. May 4-5.
OklahomaFirst Weekend in June. June 1-2.
OregonFeb. 16-17 (Saturday & Sunday), President’s Day Weekend
June 1-2 (Saturday & Sunday)
Aug. 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday)
Nov. 29-30 (Friday & Saturday), Thanksgiving Weekend
PennsylvaniaMay 26, and July 4 Independence Day
Rhode IslandFirst Weekend in May. May 4-5 (Freshwater Fishing only)
South CarolinaMemorial Day. May 27.
Independence Day. July 4.
South DakotaTypically the third weekend in May. May 18-19.
TennesseeThe first Saturday after the first Monday of the month. June 8.
TexasFirst Saturday in June. June 1.
UtahSecond Saturday in June. June 8.
VirginiaSecond full weekend in June. June 7, 8 and 9.
VermontFourth Saturday in January and Second Saturday in June.
WashingtonSecond Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.
WisconsinWinter Free Fishing weekend – Third weekend in January (Jan 19-20). Summer Free Fishing weekend – First Saturday and Sunday in June (June 1-2).                         
West VirginiaSecond Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.
WyomingFirst Saturday in June. June 1.


If one of your parents, relatives or neighbors fish, tap their know-how and learn where they go to catch their fish.

Most importantly, know the basic rules in your state, despite the free pass on a license. Each state differs when it comes to limits on the species of fish you seek and the seasons for each species.

Many differ on the type of tackle or bait you use in particular waters and particular seasons. Again, your state’s fish and wildlife agency provides all your need to know in this regard via their websites and printed literature, available at virtually all sporting goods stores.

Your state might even offer free fishing clinics during the week in which free fishing falls. City or county parks departments might offer one-day introductions to fishing. Some offer a day on the dock or shore to learn the basics of casting with a fly rod. Learn what your state offers.

Meanwhile, parents and kids, mark the free fishing weekends corresponding to your state in the following list. Tell your other relatives and friends about it. Make it a free-fishing party.

Got boat? Make it a National Fishing and Boating Weekend

Of course, water craft and fishing go hand in hand. After all, what’s better than getting to the hottest spot on the lake, pond or stream when it is not along the beach or end of a dock? For this reason, states schedule free fishing weekends around National Boating Week (June 1-9).

Keep safety in mind by equipping your boat with all the Coast Guard requirements, including life vests, boat-traffic courtesy and meanings of the different colored buoys—to name just a few.

See if one of your friends or relatives owns a boat—if you or your parents don’t keep one already. Many resorts rent boats by the hour or day.

After all, there is no better way to enjoy a free fishing weekend than to share it with others. Everyone can get chummy, enjoy each other’s success and enjoy all aspects of the water in a boat. Moreover, all of you get a bit closer and friendlier with Mother Nature.

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