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?
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
|Alabama||Second Saturday in June. June 8.|
|Arkansas||Second full weekend in June. Free Fishing Weekend begins at noon on June 7 and ends at midnight on June 9.|
|Arizona||First Saturday in June. June 1.|
|California||First Saturday in July. Saturday, July 6 and Saturday, August 31|
|Colorado||First full weekend of June. June 1-2.|
|Connecticut||May 11. CT offers 2 free fishing license days Sunday June 16 and Saturday Aug 10 (must get the free one day license)|
|DC||First full week of June. From Saturday, June 1 to Sunday, June 9.|
|Delaware||First full weekend of June. June 1-2.|
|Florida||First 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)
|Georgia||June 1, June 8, September 28, 2019|
|Hawaii||365 days a year (marine)|
|Iowa||First Friday, Saturday and Sunday that land in June: June 7-9, 2019.|
|Idaho||Second Saturday every June. June 8.|
|Illinois||Father’s Day weekend in June. June 15-16.|
|Indiana||April 20, May 18, and June 1-2.|
|Kansas||First full weekend in June. June 1-2.|
|Kentucky||First full weekend in June. June 1-2.|
|Louisiana||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9|
|Maine||Free Fishing Weekends in Maine are February 16-17, 2019 and June 1-2, 2019.|
|Maryland||June 1, June 8, and July 4 Independence Day.|
|Massachusetts||First Saturday & Sunday in June (Freshwater). Fathers Day weekend June 15-16 (Saltwater)|
|Michigan||Feb 16-17 and Second weekend in June 8-9.|
|Minnesota||MN 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.
|Missouri||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.|
|Mississippi||June 2-3 and Independence day July 4|
|Montana||Father’s Day weekend. June 15-16.|
|North Carolina||July 4 Independence Day|
|North Dakota||First weekend in June June 1-2. Last weekend in Dec. Dec 28-29 (free ice fishing days)|
|Nebraska||Free Fishing/Free Park Entry day on Saturday, May 18.|
|New Hampshire||Third Saturday in January. Jan 19.|
First Saturday in June. June 1.
|New Jersey||Second Saturday in June 8. October 19.|
|New Mexico||First Saturday in June 1 and the last Saturday in September 28 (National Hungting and Fishing Day)|
|New York||February 16-17, 2019|
June 29-30, 2019
September 28, 2019
November 11, 2019
|Nevada||Second Saturday in June. June 8.|
|Ohio||First Saturday and Sunday in May. May 4-5.|
|Oklahoma||First Weekend in June. June 1-2.|
|Oregon||Feb. 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
|Pennsylvania||May 26, and July 4 Independence Day|
|Rhode Island||First Weekend in May. May 4-5 (Freshwater Fishing only)|
|South Carolina||Memorial Day. May 27.|
Independence Day. July 4.
|South Dakota||Typically the third weekend in May. May 18-19.|
|Tennessee||The first Saturday after the first Monday of the month. June 8.|
|Texas||First Saturday in June. June 1.|
|Utah||Second Saturday in June. June 8.|
|Virginia||Second full weekend in June. June 7, 8 and 9.|
|Vermont||Fourth Saturday in January and Second Saturday in June.|
|Washington||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.|
|Wisconsin||Winter Free Fishing weekend – Third weekend in January (Jan 19-20). Summer Free Fishing weekend – First Saturday and Sunday in June (June 1-2).|
|West Virginia||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 8-9.|
|Wyoming||First 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.