On Saturday, Nov. 11, Freshwater Fishing License Requirement Waived for Residents and Non-Residents
Free Fishing Day is One of Many Ways New York State Recognizes and Assists Veterans and Active Duty Military in Connecting to the Outdoors

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York will honor veterans on the year’s sixth and final Free Fishing Day of 2023 on Saturday, Nov. 11. On Free Fishing Days, the state waives the requirement for a freshwater fishing license, offering the perfect opportunity for beginners to try out the sport for the first time or for skilled anglers to bring along friends and family to experience New York’s world-class waterways.

Fishing is regarded as one of the most therapeutic outdoor activities, making it a perfect pastime for veterans, those currently serving in the military, and all New Yorkers looking to get outside and enjoy nature,” Governor Hochul said. “The Empire State is home to some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities in the world, and on Free Fishing Day, we waive the fees for anglers of all skill levels and abilities to explore our abundant lakes, river, and ponds. 

New York’s Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to give those who might not fish the chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost and learn about a new hobby. During the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) designated Free Fishing Days, residents and non-residents are permitted to fish in freshwater for free without a fishing license. While no license is required, all other freshwater fishing regulations remain in effect.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC and our partners are honored to extend this opportunity for New York’s veterans and active military personnel to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family on Free Fishing Day this Saturday, November 11. I deeply appreciate all of those who have defended our nation’s democracy and freedoms, and Free Fishing Day is a perfect time to cast a line and enjoy the stellar fishing opportunities New York State has to offer.”

In addition to Free Fishing Days, there are other opportunities for veterans or active-duty military members to fish for free or at a reduced cost. New York State offers free/reduced-fee fishing licenses for active-duty military members meeting certain criteria and for resident veterans with a service-related disability of 40 percent or more.

This past weekend, DEC hosted its 16th annual Veteran Fly Fishing event. During this innovative therapeutic outdoor recreation event, DEC gives veterans a chance to catch and release steelhead on a private portion of the Salmon River as part of a partnership with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and CompeerCORPS Rochester. PHWFF is a national not-for-profit dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled veterans and disabled active military service personnel through fly fishing and education about fly tying and rod building. CompeerCORPS provides healing friendship to community members living with mental health challenges, while shattering the stigma around mental health conditions. Photos from this year’s event can be found here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB2fLy and video coverage from the 2022 event can be found on DEC’s YouTube page https://youtu.be/aNjHQunb6yM.

To locate a spot to fish on Veterans Day, check out some popular locations statewide on DEC’s Places to Fish site or the DECinfoLocator Interactive Map. The HuntFishNY mobile app also offers the latest Tackle Box feature listing fishing spots, parking information, boat launches, and more.

What’s Biting?

Fishing action is good in the late fall and early winter months. New York’s Great Lakes tributaries offer opportunities to catch Pacific salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Across the state, there’s a catch-and-release fishing season for trout in inland streams. Tiger muskellunge and muskellunge fishing can also pick up this time of year. As a reminder, muskellunge season closes Nov. 30 for inland waters and Dec.15 for Great Lakes waters. If fishing in western or central New York, check out the weekly fishing hotline reports to get the latest information on what’s biting.