MOREHEAD CITY — Residents and visitors to Carteret County have the opportunity Saturday to fish free in the waters of the Crystal Coast.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced on July 4 anyone in North Carolina, regardless of age, “can enjoy one of the state’s best outdoor activities for free.”

Free Fishing Day, which runs from midnight until 11:59 p.m., offers residents and out-of-state visitors the opportunity to fish without having to purchase a license, but all other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

Authorized by the General Assembly in 1994 and sponsored by the WRC, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day, which always falls July 4, was created to promote the sport.  

WRC Inland Fisheries Division Chief Christian Waters said Free Fishing Day is “a great opportunity for families to enjoy some quality time together on the water. Fishing is an inexpensive activity that anyone, no matter what their age or skill level, can enjoy.”

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.

Interactive fishing and boating maps are available on the commission’s website, ncwildlife.org, and list more than 500 public fishing and boating areas, many of which are free.

Also, because of the novel coronavirus, the WRC recommends maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet between you and others while on the boat ramp, beaches, islands or when rafting up with other boaters.

While anyone can fish for free Saturday, on all other days of the year, a fishing license is required for people age 16 and older, in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters. Licenses may be purchased online at the WRC website.

Other ways to purchase a license are:

  • Call the commission at 888-248-6834.
  • Visit a local wildlife service agent.

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the WRC Fishing page at ncwildlife.org/Fishing/Fishing-in-North-Carolina.

(1) comment


Fishing should always be free, the idea that we should buy the "right" to fish is absurd. The king does not own the waters nor the fishes in them. We allowed this absurdity; we can end it as well. We would do well to consider ending this owning of our oceans by the government. We already lost on Carrot Island, as Beaufort annexed it into the town, thus it is considered as an extension of Front Street. How did we allow this? It used to be a haven, Carrot Island and the banks, until we decided that we had to have a cop under every rock, behind every sea oat. Sad indeed.

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