Residents may fish for free in public waters during holiday
NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Residents may fish for free in public waters during holiday

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RALEIGH — On July 4, anyone in North Carolina, regardless of age, can enjoy one of the state’s best outdoor activities for free.

Free Fishing Day, which runs from midnight until 11:59 p.m., offers residents and out-of-state visitors the opportunity to fish without having to purchase a license. All other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

Authorized by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1994 and sponsored by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day, which always falls on July 4, was created to promote the sport of fishing.

“Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for families to enjoy some quality time together on the water,” said Christian Waters, the agency’s chief of the Inland Fisheries Division. “Fishing is an inexpensive activity that anyone, no matter what their age or skill level, can enjoy.”

To give anglers a better chance of catching fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state — including trout and channel catfish. The agency also provides access to fishing sites across the state, including public fishing areas and boating access areas. The interactive fishing and boating maps on the Commission’s website at ncwildlife.org list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, many of which are free, that are open to the public.

Many of the boating areas likely will be crowded over the busy holiday weekend, so the Commission urges boaters to be patient, courteous and follow the boating etiquette tips below:

» Realize that parking lots will be crowded. Be patient and remain calm until an open parking space is available.

» Wait your turn in the launch line. Get in line without blocking or cutting off others.

» If possible, park your vehicle and trailer while someone moves the boat away from the ramp.

» Also if possible, have someone move the boat away from the ramp while you retrieve your vehicle and trailer.

» Observe no-wake zones and be cautious.

Because of COVID-19, the Commission recommends maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet between you and others while on the boat ramp, on beaches or islands or when rafting up with other boaters.

While anyone can fish for free on July 4, on all other days of the year, a fishing license is required for people age 16 and older in order to fish in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters. People can purchase a North Carolina fishing license through the following ways:

» Online at ncwildlife.org.

» By phone at 888-248-6834 — between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

» In person by visiting a local wildlife service agent — visit https://bit.ly/37WAh4k to find the closest one.

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the “Fishing” page at ncwildlife.org.

Boat owners may visit the site to renew a vessel registration as well. Currently, the Commission’s License and Vessel Registration Call Centers are open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. For the most up-to-date information on agency-related closures, cancellations and postponements visit ncwildlife.org/covid19.

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