No License Required on July 4: Free Fishing Day in North Carolina

NC fishing is free July 4; no license required. Source: Melissa McGaw/NCWRC
NC fishing is free July 4; no license required. Source: Melissa McGaw/NCWRC

On July 4, 2018, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) invites anglers and would-be anglers of all ages to go fishing — for free. From 12am (midnight) until 11:59pm on Wednesday, everyone in North Carolina — residents or non-residents/visitors — may fish in any public body of water, including coastal waters, without purchasing a fishing license or additional trout fishing privilege.

Although no fishing license is required, all other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

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 list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, many of which are free, that are open to the public.

Started in 1994, free fishing day is an annual tradition, sponsored by the Commission and authorized by the NC General Assembly. It always falls on July 4 — Independence Day.

On all other days of the year, a fishing license is not required for anglers 15 years and younger, but anyone age 16 and older must have a fishing license to fish in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters. Purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Other ways to purchase a license are:

  • Call the Commission at 1.888.248.6834. (Hours of operation are 8am-5pm.)
  • Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent.

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the Fishing page.


Source: Jodie B. Owen, NC Wildlife

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