NYS Free Fishing Days
February 13-14, 2021
June 26-27, 2021
September 25, 2021
November 11, 2021
What better way to celebrate family fun time than a trip fishing! Free fishing days are a great time to start a new family hobby or revive an old fun pastime. Whether you take the family fishing for the first time or encourage a family new to the sport to join yours, it's guaranteed to be a fun day. (Whether you catch anything or not!)
Fishing and Kids:
Fishing can be fun for the family. It helps to keep the trips short for the first few times until you see how they like it. An hour or two is plenty of time to fish and include snack breaks or a picnic lunch as part of the trip. Don't forget some toys for them to play with! The more you make the trip about the kids, the more successful it will be. Try to find a few safe ways they can help you prepare the gear or reel in your catch!
Tips on a successful fishing trip with links to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's website!
- Licensing: While the weekend of fishing does not require a license, it is required year-round and some restrictions do apply. For more information on licensing or to buy your fishing license, click here. For information on fishing license requirements, click here.
- Where to fish: There are many lakes and rivers in New York perfect for fishing. Always check to be sure that you have the right to fish somewhere and that it is safe to keep and eat the fish. Local lakes are a great place to start, but be careful of permitted fishing dates. Some allow you to keep the fish while others are CATCH AND RELEASE only.
- Here are a few local lakes and ponds: Artist Lake (Middle Island), Deep Pond (Wading River), Otis Pike Pond (Calverton), Swan Pond (Calverton), Upper Mills Pond (Calverton), Upper Yaphank Lake (Yaphank), Lower Yaphank Lake (Yaphank), Randall Pond (Ridge). For a full list of great places to fish on Long Island, click here.
- You can also fish at Robert Moses State Park on the west end of Fire Island.
- Suffolk County has special fishing regulations in exception to the NYS freshwater fishing regulations.
- There's a free mobile app to help you find your new favorite fishing spot!
- Fishing Gear: Children will find it easier to use spin-cast reels or push-button reels with shorter rods. They are easily found at your local store. Simple bait rigs with a book, sinker, and bobber work best, but keep in mind that kids might still need help casting their line.
- Bait: You might be doing this part, but what fun is fishing without the classic squiggly worm! Make sure you take a photo of that scrunched up 'eww' face. Worms are a great choice and may stay on the hook best, but there are plenty of other types to choose from. Just ask at your local bait shop what works best for where you are going fishing.
- Other Essentials: Don't forget sunscreen for the littles and yourself, even if it is cloudy! Hats and sunglasses will also keep them from complaining about the sun. A light jacket helps keep the breeze off of them, as well. Bug repellent may be a lifesaver in some places. Extra clothes and even shoes will help if someone gets wet or to change into before you go out to eat afterwards. (No need to smell like you've been fishing and touching worms all day!)
- Want to Learn first? There are many free fishing clinics across the island. You can also read the I FISH NY Beginner's Guide to Freshwater Fishing.
- Some Knot fun? Here's a link with directions on how to make the knots every angler should know!
- Have a boat? Here are some boat launch sites for Nassau County and Suffolk County. Be sure you register annually for the free with the recreational marine fishing registry.
- Find out more about recreational fishing, online catch logs, and fishing access sites, here.
Free Fishing Days are usually in February, June, September, and November
Even if the kids have no desire to go fishing again, it's always fun to try new things. Any kind of fishing trip can be celebrated with a walk along the water's edge, a stop at the playground, or even a scoop of ice cream on the way home. If they spent the whole time searching for frogs along the pond or trying to catch butterflies all day, at least you know you'll have other nature trips in your future!
For more information:
- Recipe: Crispy Fish Fillets Your Kids Will Love
- Craft: Balloon Fish
- Thank-you Favor: O-fish-al Thank You Candy Bucket
- Craft: Hand-some Fish in a Bowl
- Book Review: The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark
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