On July 4 from midnight until 11:59 p.m., anyone-resident or non-resident-can fish in any public water, including coastal waters, in North Carolina without purchasing a fishing license or a trout stamp. However, other fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits and bait and tackle restrictions, as well as park use fees apply.
So that anglers of all ages and skill levels have an excellent chance of catching fish, the agency has stocked a variety of catchable-sized fish in waters across the state, from trout in the mountains to channel catfish in the Piedmont and coastal regions.
"The purpose of the free fishing day is to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the fun of fishing, especially those who don't currently have a fishing license," said Kent Nelson, fisheries program manager for the Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries. "It's a great way to spend quality time with your kids outdoors and develop an interest in nature and conservation."
The Commission has made finding a fishing spot easier by maintaining more than 100 Public Fishing Areas (PFAs) and Community Fishing Program (CFP) sites across the state. PFAs provide free fishing opportunities from the banks of North Carolina's waters. The Commission clears the banks of underbrush and, in some cases, constructs universally accessible fishing piers, and installs fish attractors.
CFP sites are intensively managed bodies of water receiving monthly stockings of catchable-sized channel catfish from April to September. Many sites also feature universally accessible fishing piers and solar-powered fish feeders. In addition, the Commission's Tackle Loaner Program, available at many CFP sites, allows anglers to borrow rods and reels for free.
North Carolina residents age 16 and older who are interested in fishing the remaining 364 days of the year can purchase a one-year comprehensive inland fishing license (includes public trout waters) for $20. A one-year license to fish in coastal waters is $15; to fish in inland and coastal waters, a unified license is $35 (includes public trout waters) and is valid for one year from purchase date.
To purchase a license:
Go online, www.ncwildlife.org; Call 1-888-248-6834, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday; Visit one of nearly 1,000 wildlife service agents located across the state.
For a list of all public fishing areas, Community Fishing Program sites and Tackle Loaner Program sites, visit the Wildlife Commission's Web site, www.ncwildlife.org, or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 707-0220.