North Carolina “Free Fishing Day” on July 4th

July 4 is free fishing day in North Carolina, when all ages can fish in all public waters without paying for a fishing license. Source: Take Me Fishing,
July 4 is free fishing day in North Carolina, when all ages can fish in all public waters without paying for a fishing license. Source: Take Me Fishing,

This Independence Day, anyone in North Carolina, regardless of age, will be able to fish for free. Free Fishing Day, which runs from 12am until 11:59pm on Sunday, July 4, 2021, offers residents and out-of-state visitors the opportunity to fish without having to purchase a license; however, all other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

North Carolina’s annual free fishing day was authorized by the NC General Assembly in 1994 and sponsored by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. It always falls on the July Fourth holiday.

Said Christian Waters, the agency’s chief of the Inland Fisheries Division:  “Free Fishing Day was created to promote the sport of fishing and is a great opportunity for families to try a new outdoor activity. Fishing is relatively inexpensive recreational sport that anyone, no matter what their age or skill level, can enjoy. It’s an excellent way to enjoy quality time together in a relaxing setting on the water.”

Waters added that the Commission’s website,, is a value resource for 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, many of which are free, that are open to the public. Also, to give anglers a better chance of catching fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state. Stocking information can also be found on the website. ”

Anglers should remember that boating areas likely will be crowded over the busy holiday weekend. Wildlife officials urge boaters to be patient, courteous and follow the boating etiquette tips below:

  • 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 age 16 and older on all other days of the year. This includes both public and coastal waters in North Carolina. Purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Other ways to purchase a license are:

  • Call the Commission at 888-248-6834. Current hours of operation are 8am-5pm.
  • Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent.

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the agency’s fishing webpage.


Source: Mindy Wharton, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

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