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California Free Fishing Days


California free fishing days typically fall on Saturdays of Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, allowing individuals ages 16 or older to fish without needing a sport fishing license. All other state fishing regulations remain in place during these events, including bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours, and stream closures.

July 1

If you have never experienced the thrill of fishing, now is your opportunity to try it without purchasing a license. California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Free Fishing Days introduce this pastime; all other fishing regulations – bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours, and stream closures still apply, and children under 16 don’t require one either!

On Saturday, July 1, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold its inaugural Free Fishing Days this year. Experienced anglers are invited to share their passion with family members and friends who may not yet know much about fishing – an activity that allows you to experience nature while relaxing and helping people unwind. According to CDFW Director Charlton Bonham: “Fishing can provide both.”

There are countless places across California where beginners can begin fishing. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s online map-based Fishing Guide can be an excellent starting point, providing historical good spots, planting locations, boat launches, and regulations. Furthermore, beginner fishing clinics provide an ideal way to gain expert guidance.

Getting hooked on fishing? California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (CDFW) annual resident sport fishing license can be an excellent investment that supports future angling opportunities for future generations. You can purchase one online through CDFW’s website; all proceeds raised go toward managing and conserving fisheries resources.

August 31

California offers two free fishing days each year on the Saturday after the Fourth of July holiday weekend and Labor Day weekend, allowing those 16 or over to fish without needing a sport fishing license. However, all other fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours, and stream closures, remain in place; licensed anglers should use these free days to introduce non-angler friends to fishing while taking advantage of California’s outdoor adventures!

These state-wide free fishing days allow many communities to host free fishing events. Local CDFW offices can provide more information regarding free fishing opportunities, and anyone can also check the online CDFW fishing map to see which lakes and rivers have recently been stocked with fish.

Lake Cuyamaca in Julian, San Diego County, is a favorite spot to catch trout, where over 38,000 pounds of rainbow trout are stocked each year alongside bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie. Furthermore, Lake Cuyamaca Fishing Education Center offers free fishing classes all summer long to both children and adults alike.

Any angler looking for more fishing action on other days can try their luck in one of California’s lakes, streams, or rivers. Information on inland fishing spots and species can be found on the CDFW website and ocean fishing spots along California beaches and their beaches. Likewise, CDFW also provides a pier fishing guide, which may prove invaluable if they wish to fish off piers, jetties, or breakwaters.

CDFW Regions also hosts beginner fishing clinics for public participation, which teach novice anglers about ethics, habits, and practical methods of catching fish. You can learn more by visiting CDFW’s Sacramento Metro Area Fishing in the City page and Eastern Sierra Fishing in the City page – but even those unable to make in-person offerings can still try fishing any of California’s waters if they possess an active sport fishing license.

September 5

Labor Day weekend marks one of two California statewide Free Fishing Days this year (September 5, 2023), following July 2’s Free Fishing Day. On these free-fishing days, anyone ages 16 or over can fish without needing an annual license at creeks, rivers, lakes, or beaches – the perfect opportunity for novice anglers or licensed fishermen to introduce non-angling friends to this rewarding hobby!

On Free Fishing Days, all fishing regulations remain in force, including bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours, and stream closures. Public members are strongly advised to consult the Department website before fishing.

The department also offers in-person fishing workshops for people wanting to learn the fishing ropes. Attendees will meet expert anglers and can pose questions at these workshops held throughout Sacramento and Eastern Sierra regions.

People unable to attend in-person events may still participate by taking an online workshop or watching a virtual offering from the Fishing in the City program. These online workshops and virtual offerings aim to educate beginner anglers on fishing ethics, fish habits, and practical methods for catching and cleaning their catch.

Fishing along certain piers, jetties, and breakwaters along California’s coastline is accessible year-round; see the CDFW website for pier locations and information regarding inshore fishing opportunities. The website of the California Fishing Passport program also features a zoomable map of piers to aid anglers with planning their fishing adventure. Furthermore, anglers can visit its California Fishing Passport Challenge program website to discover all its fishing offerings across California. The program challenges anglers to fish for 150 different finfish and shellfish species for unique stamps they can collect in an online passport book resembling traveler’s passports. Once completed, participants can share stories and pictures on the website’s community page.

October 1

On Saturday, September 2, California will celebrate its second Free Fishing Day of 2023, providing young anglers 15 and under with free fishing licenses for an event to introduce non-angler friends and family to fishing and the outdoors. All other state and federal fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, and fishing hours, remain in force on Free Fishing Days.

Traditionally, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hosts two free fishing days every summer, usually held during the Fourth of July weekend and Labor Day weekend; this year, however, a third Free Fishing Day has been declared for October 1st.

Although no fishing license is required on these Free Fishing Days in California, all other fishing rules still apply, including restrictions at creeks, rivers, lakes, and ocean spots along California beaches. Furthermore, for the first time, ponds in CDFW-managed parks and streams with catchable-only species that can be caught using rods and reels are exempt.

Fishing is a beloved pastime among Californians and an ideal form of exercise, providing both mental and physical benefits – including helping reduce depression more effectively than other treatments. But fishing also serves another vital purpose – spending quality time with friends and family while being outdoors! Fishing provides both an opportunity to be outside, improve mental health, and promote overall well-being – not to mention having fun!

However, it is essential to remember that not all types of fishing are suitable for every person to avoid catching and transporting dangerous species. Anglers should always consult local fisheries for up-to-date guidance and information.

Anyone looking to learn more about fishing can visit CDFW’s Recruit, Retain, and Reactivate Program web page for tips and tools designed to draw newcomers into trying the sport. In addition to this online resource, CDFW has numerous in-person and virtual offerings to introduce beginners to fishing, such as the Fishing in the City program, which offers assistance learning to fish in urban settings.