No Freshwater Fishing License Required to Fish on Designated Days

Governor Kathy Hochul announced today the six designated Free Fishing Days in New York will take place on February 17 to 18 (Presidents’ Day Weekend), June 29 to 30, September 28 (National Hunting and Fishing Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day). During these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for freshwater fishing on New York’s waters.

“The Free Fishing Days program provides a great opportunity for aspiring anglers to try freshwater fishing for the first time or former anglers to reconnect with one of America’s favorite pastimes,” Governor Hochul said. “New York is blessed with an abundance of freshwater lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers, allowing for memorable fishing experiences that increase tourism and benefit the economy.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Free Fishing Days are spread out throughout the year to give anglers a chance to enjoy freshwater fishing in various climates. It is the perfect time for families and friends to take advantage of the State’s plentiful fishing opportunities and learn or re-refresh a recreational hobby without the traditional fees.”

The Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport of freshwater fishing at no cost, to introduce people to a new hobby, and to encourage people to support conservation by purchasing a New York State fishing license.

DEC offers a host of resources for those interested in getting started in fishing. The I FISH NY Beginners Guide to Freshwater Fishing provides information on everything from rigging up a fishing rod to identifying your catch and understanding fishing regulations. There’s also a video series on DEC’s YouTube channel that complements the Beginners Guide. DEC’s Places to Fish webpages are a reliable source of information when planning your next fishing trip. DEC’s official app, HuntFishNY, now features “The Tackle Box.” Fishing regulations, boating access, and stocking information are all available within a map-based interface from the convenience of your smartphone.

In addition to Free Fishing Days, there are also “learn to fish” opportunities available through DEC-approved free fishing clinics. For a list of what’s currently scheduled, visit the DEC website.

Free fishing day participants are reminded that although the requirement for a freshwater fishing license is waived during free fishing days, all other fishing regulations remain in effect. Outside of free fishing days, anglers over the age of 16 must have a valid fishing license. For more information on purchasing a license, visit the DEC website.

DEC recently revamped its Angler Achievement Awards Program which recognizes anglers who catch notable-size fish, including state records. The new and improved program broadens the list of eligible fish species an angler can enter for an award and now features a Youth Angler Category and an online entry form where qualifying catches can be submitted right from the convenience of a smartphone. All anglers who submit a qualifying catch will now receive a species-specific sticker to proudly display on their tackle box, car, etc. For official program rules, eligible species, and associated minimum qualifying lengths, visit the Angler Achievement Awards webpage on DEC’s website.