Four license-free fishing days in Florida start April 7

March 20, 2012

Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Freshwater: April 7 and June 9 

Saltwater: June 2 and Sept. 1

Grab your fishing rods and tackle box. It’s almost time – April 7 – to take advantage of the first of four license-free fishing days scheduled for this summer in Florida.

The days are perfect chances for parents, who don’t yet have a license, to take youth fishing, or for avid anglers to introduce a friend to the recreational pursuit without having to purchase a license.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spread out the opportunities this year so more people will be able to head for their favorite lakes and rivers or saltwater destinations on designated days. Instead of providing one weekend for freshwater fishing and one weekend for saltwater fishing, the Commissioners decided at their meeting in February to break up the days. You won’t need a recreational fishing license on the special days listed below.

Florida residents and nonresidents, mark these Saturdays on your calendar for 2012:
April 7 – Freshwater
June 2 – Saltwater
June 9 – Freshwater
Sept. 1 – Saltwater

The April 7 date occurs during a productive freshwater fishing period when the weather is usually comfortable. Plus it is Easter weekend, and many people like to fill the weekend with a variety of activities with family or friends.

The June 2 free saltwater fishing day coincides with the first weekend of Gulf red snapper season and National Fishing and Boating Week, which means there will be lots of other related activities going on too.

The June 9 date for freshwater fishing also coincides with the last day of National Fishing and Boating Week. Last year, 38 states had at least one license-free fishing day during this annual event.

Sept. 1 is the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, when lots of people have time to recreate and celebrate the traditional end-of-summer holiday. In addition, bay scallops, lobster and snook will be open for harvest on this date.

All other bag limit, season and size restrictions apply on these dates. The license-free fishing designation applies only to recreational fishing, not commercial.

To make your free fishing day successful, check out for fishing tips, locations and rules.

Those who venture out may discover why Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World and feel as if they are part of the sport’s business engine that propels a $7.5 billion economic impact and sustains 80,000 jobs.

Fishing, however, is much more than a money-generating sport. Nature-based recreation can make people happier and healthier. And it’s fun and relaxing.