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The date of July 4 in North Carolina is a little more than America’s Birthday for area fisherman. This is because, since legislation was first passed in 1994, anyone across the entire state can enjoy “Free Fishing Day.”

What exactly is “Free Fishing Day,” you may ask? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like, actually. It is one day (July 4) where from 12:00 a.m.- 11:59 p.m., both NC residents and out-of-state visitors may fish statewide, without having to purchase a license. This is not just some free-for-all however, as all other state fishing regulations do apply. For example, length and daily possession limits or all bait and tackle regulations are applicable as usual. The only difference at all is that anyone can fish license-free on “the Fourth.”

Why Have I Never Heard of North Carolina Free Fishing Day?

The 4th of JuFree lFishing Day” is a perfect chance for some great father and son time.

This, is a good question? North Carolina Free Fishing Day is not a new thing. Authorization for the day came from the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) in 1994. The idea and then bill passed by the NCGA is sponsored by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission (NCWC). he entire premise and idea behind the annual “freebie” was a simple one. It was introduced to promote and build the sport of fishing in the “Tar Heel State.”

Over 500 public fishing and boating areas are currently listed on the interactive map at the official NCWC website. Thus, given the combination of celebrating “Independence Day” weekend and North Carolina Free Fishing Day, there may be some issues with crowds on the weekend of the 4th.

Since this is a foreseeable possibility, the NCWC has offered up the following guidelines. These will help to remind those wanting to take part in both the holiday weekend and North Carolina Free Fishing Day of proper etiquette and courtesy.

  • Parking lots will be full. Be patient and calm until an open parking space is available
  • Patiently wait for your turn in the launch line. Its asked that you get in line without blocking or cutting off others
  • If possible, park your vehicle and trailer while someone else is moving the boat away from the ramp
  • Likewise, have someone move the boat away from the ramp while you retrieve your vehicle and trailer
  • Observe no-wake zones and always be cautious

What Effect Does the COVID Regulations Have on This Activity?

A very viable question, given the current situations we are all surrounded by. So, simply put, because of COVID-19, the NCWC recommends maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet between you and others while on the boat ramp, on beaches or islands, or when rafting up with other boaters. Other than this, it we recommend that you use your better judgment and respect the space of others during this time.

Happy Birthday, America…Let’s Go Fishing!

With all the regulations and “red tape” covered above, let’s get down to the fun part and celebrate our independence. Let’s celebrate it by enjoying one of America’s great outdoor activities as part of North Carolina Free Fishing Day.

Christian Waters, the Chief of Inland Fisheries Division of the NCWC spoke about the annual cost-free day. “Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for families to enjoy some quality time together on the water.” He also says, “Fishing is a relatively inexpensive activity that anyone, no matter what their age or skill level, can enjoy.”

We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Waters, so we hope to see you all with poles and flags waving high on the upcoming July 4 holiday.