July 4 is “free fishing day” in North Carolina where everyone — residents and non-residents alike — can fish in any public body of water from 12:01 a.m. to 11: 59 p.m., without having to purchase a fishing license or additional trout privilege license.
While anyone 16 years and older can fish recreationally in all public waters, including saltwater, without a license on July 4, all other fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions, apply.
To make “free fishing day” more enjoyable, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stocks a variety of fish in public, inland waters across the state throughout the year to give anglers a better chance of catching fish. Cool mountain waters are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout, as well as walleye and muskellunge. In warm waters, Commission staff stocks largemouth bass, American shad, striped bass, channel catfish and sunfishes.
In addition to stocking fish, the Commission has interactive fishing and boating maps on its website to make finding a spot to fish easier.
Authorized by the N.C. General Assembly and enacted in 1994, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day always falls on July 4. On all other days of the year, a fishing license is not required for anglers 15 years and younger, but anyone age 16 and older must have a fishing license to fish in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters. To purchase a license:
Call the Commission at 1-888-248-6834. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the Fishing page.