The first of two 2020 Free Fishing Days in California occurs Saturday, July 4 and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than being outdoors, on the water and fishing – with no fishing license needed. To fish the rest of the year, a license is required and available for purchase online through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.
“In these challenging times, many Californians have discovered that fishing is a great outlet for physical and mental health,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Free Fishing Day is a wonderful opportunity for Californians to give fishing a try and perhaps discover a new passion that offers a lifetime of learning, adventure and memorable experiences in the outdoors.”
CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – typically around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends – when it’s legal to fish without any license. The July 4 Free Fishing Day arrives as California’s fishing seasons are in full swing statewide following some COVID-19 related delays to the start of ocean salmon seasons and the general trout opener. The second Free Fishing Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 5.
All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect on Free Fishing Days. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.
Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online (wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile website to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs).
CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers also are advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as site closures and access restrictions may exist and may change daily.
A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $51.02, while a one-day fishing license costs $16.46. California has issued more fishing licenses in 2020 than the state issued through this same time last year. Annual resident sport fishing license sales are up 13 percent. Overall, California sport fishing licenses – which include resident, nonresident, annual, short-term and lifetime licenses among others – are up 7 percent in 2020 compared to last year.