Celebrate freedom with free fishing

July 4 is North Carolina's Free Fishing Day. While no license is required, all other rules apply.
Traditional and modern fishing methods will be explored in the STEM program. (file photo)

This Independence Day, anyone in North Carolina, regardless of age, will be able to fish for free.
Free Fishing Day, which runs from 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on July 4, offers residents and out-of-state visitors the opportunity to fish without having to purchase a license; however, all other fishing regulations apply, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions.

 While Lake Waccamaw and the Waccamaw River are always popular spots for anglers, there are many underappreciated spots along the Lumber River, Soles Swamp, White Marsh, Big Swamp and elsewhere in the county. When the water is right, almost any body of water in the county will have some species of gamefish 

“Free Fishing Day was created to promote the sport of fishing and is a great opportunity for families to try a new outdoor activity,” said Christian Waters, the agency’s chief of the Inland Fisheries Division. “Fishing is relatively inexpensive recreational sport that anyone, no matter what their age or skill level, can enjoy. It’s an excellent way to enjoy quality time together in a relaxing setting on the water.”

Waters added that the Commission’s website, ncwildlife.org, is a value resource for tips about where and what to fish, and the state’s Tackle Loaner Program.

“The interactive fishing and boating maps on the agency’s website list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, many of which are free, that are open to the public. Also, to give anglers a better chance of catching fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state. Stocking information can also be found on the website. ”

Anglers should remember that boating areas likely will be crowded over the busy holiday weekend. Wildlife officials urge boaters to be patient, courteous and follow the boating etiquette tips below:

  1. Be patient and remain calm until an open parking space is available.
  2. Wait your turn in the launch line. Don’t block or cut off others.
  3. Park your vehicle and trailer while someone moves the boat away from the ramp.
  4. Recruit someone to move the boat away from the ramp while you retrieve your vehicle and trailer.
  5. Observe no-wake zones and be cautious.

While anyone can fish for free on July 4, a fishing license is required for people age 16 and older on all other days of the year. This includes both public and coastal waters in North Carolina. Purchasing a license online is quick and easy. Other ways to purchase a license are:

  1. Call the Commission at 888-248-6834. Current hours of operation are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  2. Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent

North Carolina’s annual free fishing day was authorized by the N.C. General Assembly in 1994 and sponsored by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. It always falls on the July Fourth holiday. 

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the agency’s fishing webpage.

The dam at Lake Waccamaw is one of the more popular places to wet a hook in Columbus County, and offers a chance at perch, bream, catfish, bass and blackfish.

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About Jefferson Weaver 1877 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@ColumbusCountyNews.com.