On July 4, anglers of any age or residency status will be allowed to fish without a license in North Carolina from midnight to 11:59 p.m.
Free Fishing Day, sponsored by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, is an annual event authorized by the N.C. General Assembly in 1994 and always falls on the Independence Day holiday.
“Free Fishing Day was created to promote the sport of fishing,” said Christian Waters, the agency’s chief of the Inland Fisheries Division. It’s an opportunity for families to try an outdoor recreational activity that is relatively inexpensive and available to anyone, no matter their age or skill level. It’s an excellent way to enjoy quality time together, relaxing by the water.”
Anglers are required to follow fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits and bait and tackle restrictions. The Wildlife Commission’s website, ncwildlife.org, is a valuable resource for regulations, tips about where and what to fish and the state’s Tackle Loaner Program.
“The interactive fishing and boating maps on the agency’s website list more than 500 fishing and boating areas that are open to the public, and many of which that are free,” Waters said. “Also, the Wildlife Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state to give anglers a better chance of catching fish. Stocking information can also be found on the agency’s website.”
Anglers should remember that boating areas likely will be crowded over the busy holiday weekend. Wildlife officials urge boaters to be patient and courteous and follow these boating etiquette tips:
• Be patient and remain calm until an open parking space is available.
• Wait your turn in the launch line. Don’t block or cut off others.
• Park your vehicle and trailer while someone moves the boat away from the ramp.
• Recruit someone to move the boat away from the ramp while you retrieve your vehicle and trailer.
• Observe no-wake zones and be cautious.
While anyone can fish for free on July 4, a fishing license is required for people 16 and older on all other days of the year. This includes both inland and coastal waters in North Carolina. Officials say purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Licenses also are available by calling the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at 888-248-6834 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays or visiting a local wildlife service agent.