July 4 is Free Fishing Day in North Carolina. From 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m., everyone in North Carolina can fish for free in any public body of water, including coastal waters, without having to purchase a fishing license or additional trout fishing privilege.
Although no fishing license is required, all other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.
Free Fishing Day always falls on July 4. It was started in 1994 and is sponsored by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and authorized by the N.C. General Assembly.
To give anglers a better chance of catching fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state — including trout and channel catfish. The agency also provides access to fishing sites across the state, including public fishing areas and boating access areas. The interactive fishing and boating maps on the Commission’s website list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, many of which are free, that are open to the public.
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. Purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Other ways to purchase a license are:
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.