Fish for Free in North Carolina on July 4

Press release from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission:

On July 4, angles of any age or residency status will be allowed to fish without a license in North Carolina from 12 am – 11:59 pm Free Fishing Day, sponsored by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, is an annual event that was authorized by the NC General Assembly in 1994 and always falls on July 4.

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

Anglers are required to follow fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, and bait and tackle restrictions. The Wildlife Commission’s website,, is a valuable resource for regulations, 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 that are open to the public, and many of which are free. Also, the Wildlife Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state to give angles a better chance of catching fish. Stocking information can also be found on the agency’s 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:

  1. Be patient and remain calm until an open parking space is available.
  2. Wait your turn in the launch line. Don’t block or cut off others.
  3. Park your vehicle and trailer while someone moves the boat away from the ramp.
  4. Recruit someone to move the boat away from the ramp while you retrieve your vehicle and trailer.
  5. 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 inland and coastal waters in North Carolina. Purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Other ways to purchase a license are:

  1. Call the Wildlife Commission at 888-248-6834, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  2. Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent.

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

About the NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Since 1947, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.

Purchase or a renew a fishing, trapping and hunting license and renew a vessel registration online at

Get NC Wildlife Update — news including season dates, bag limits, updates and more — delivered free to your Inbox from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

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