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 days or weekends for those unable to immediately pay for the necessary licenses and permits and those still wondering if fishing is for them. Check 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 2020
|Alabama||Second Saturday in June. June 13|
|Arizona||First Saturday in June. June 6|
|Arkansas||Second Full weekend in June. June 12-14|
|California||First Saturday in July. July 4th, September 5th|
|Colorado||First weekend of June. June 6-7|
|Connecticut||Free Fishing Day May 9th, Free 1 day license, June 21st, August 8th|
|Delaware||First weekend of June. June 6-7|
|Florida||First weekend in April (freshwater fishing days) April 4-5|
Second Saturday and Sunday in June (freshwater) June 13-14
First Saturday and Sunday in June (saltwater) June 6-7
First Saturday in September (saltwater) Sept 5th
Saturday following Thanksgiving (saltwater) Nov 28th
|Hawaii||365 days a year (marine) 365 days a year|
|Idaho||Second Saturday every June. June 13th|
|Illinois||Father’s Day weekend in June. June 19-22|
|Indiana||First Sunday in May May 3rd|
First weekend in June. June 6-7
|Iowa||First Friday, Saturday and Sunday that land in June. June 5-7|
|Kansas||First weekend in June. June 6-7|
|Kentucky||First full weekend in June. June 6-7|
|Louisiana||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 13-14|
|Maine||Presidents Day Weekend, Feb 15-16|
|Maryland||First two Saturdays in June. June 6th and 13th|
4th of July
|Massachusetts||First Saturday & Sunday in June (Freshwater). June 6-7|
Fathers Day weekend June (Saltwater) June 20-21
|Michigan||Feb 15 & 16|
June 13 & 14
|Minnesota||MN Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend (MN residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16) Jan. 18 – 20, 2020|
Take a Mom Fishing Weekend (Minnesota resident moms fish free) May 9-10, 2020
Take a Kid Fishing Weekend (Minnesota residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16) June 5-7, 2020
|Mississippi||June 6-7 “Mississippi residents can fish without a fishing license (State Fishing Lake and State Park Permits are required to fish in State Fishing Lakes and State Park Lakes on July 4.)” July 4th|
|Missouri||It is the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June. June 6-7|
|Montana||Father’s Day weekend June 20-21|
|Nebraska||Free Fishing/Free Park Entry day. May 16|
|Nevada||Second Saturday in June. Jun 13|
|New Hampshire||Third Saturday in January. Jan 18|
First Saturday in June. June 6
|New Jersey||June 6|
|New Mexico||First Saturday in June, June 6 last Saturday in September, Sept 26th|
|New York||June 27-28, 2020|
September 26, 2020
|North Carolina||Independence Day July 4th|
|North Dakota||First weekend in June. June 6-7|
Last weekend in Dec Dec 26-27
|Ohio||Father’s Day Weekend June 20-21|
|Oklahoma||First Weekend in June. June 6-7|
|Oregon||President’s Day Weekend Feb 15-16|
First Weekend in June, June 6-7
August August 15-16
Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov 27-28
|Pennsylvania||Sunday before Memorial Day May 24th|
Independence Day July 4th
|Rhode Island||First Weekend in May. (Freshwater Fishing only) May 2-3|
|South Carolina||Memorial Day, May 25th|
Independence Day, July 4th
|South Dakota||Third weekend in May, May 15-17|
|Texas||First Saturday in June. June 6|
|Vermont||Fourth Saturday in January , Jan 25th|
Second Saturday in June, June 13
|Virginia||First full weekend in June. June 5-7|
|Washington||first weekend after the first Monday in June. June 6-7|
|West Virginia||Second Saturday and Sunday in June. June 13-14|
|Wisconsin||Winter Free Fishing weekend – Third weekend in January, Jan 18-19|
Summer Free Fishing weekend – First Saturday and Sunday in June, June 6-7
|Wyoming||First Saturday in June. June 6|
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 6-14).
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.