Anglers have opportunity to freshwater fish without a license from Feb. 18-19
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the 2023 dates for “Free Freshwater Fishing Days” in New York. The requirement for a freshwater fishing license is waived during the following six days this year: Feb. 18-19; June 24-25; National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 23; and Nov. 11.
"Free fishing days offer established anglers an opportunity to share their passion for fishing with those who may be newer to the sport," Hochul said. "Spreading these days throughout the year gives anglers of all ages, abilities and experience levels a chance to fish across the seasons and discover the abundant fishing opportunities in New York – benefiting our local economies in the process."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Over the years, DEC has received feedback from people who permanently picked up the sport after attending one of New York's free freshwater fishing days, and that's something we love to hear. Fishing New York's world-class waters is more than just an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors all year long – it's a perfect chance to spend time and connect with family and friends."
DEC offers several resources for those interested in learning how to fish, including the “I FISH NY Beginners' Guide to Freshwater Fishing,” which provides information on everything from rigging up a fishing rod, to identifying a catch, to understanding fishing regulations and helpful tips for those interested in ice fishing. There's also a video series that complements the beginners guide that can be found on DEC's YouTube channel. DEC's “Places to Fish” websites are a source of information when planning a fishing trip. DEC recently released a new feature within DEC's official app, HuntFishNY, called “The Tackle Box.” Here, fishing regulations, boating access and stocking information are all available within a map-based interface from the convenience of a smartphone.
A press release noted, “Colder weather is creating great ice fishing opportunities, with popular species to target through the ice in New York, including yellow perch, northern pike, walleye, lake trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and black crappie.
“Those interested in ice fishing should check the thickness of ice before leaving the shore. Four inches of solid clear ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. However, ice thickness can vary between waterbodies and even within the same waterbody, increasing the need to ensure thickness. Anglers should be particularly cautious of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice from forming. Checking the ice can easily be done with an auger or spud bar at various spots.
“In addition, fishing with a family member or friend is also encouraged for safety. Local bait and tackle shops are a great source for finding out where there is safe ice and what anglers are catching. For more information on ice fishing, including prominent fish species plentiful during the winter months and tips on ice safety, visit DEC's ice fishing website.”
In addition to “Free Fishing Days,” there are "learn to fish" opportunities available through DEC-approved free fishing clinics. For a list of what's currently scheduled, visit the DEC website. The site will be updated as new events are added throughout the year.
The free fishing days program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost, to introduce people to a new hobby, and to encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York state freshwater fishing license.
DEC stated, “Free fishing day participants are reminded that, although the requirement for a freshwater fishing license is waived during free fishing days, all other fishing regulations remain in effect. With the exception of free fishing days, anglers who are 16 years of age or older must have a valid fishing license. For more information on purchasing a license, visit the DEC website.”