Beginning in 2015, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife has offered spring and fall Free Fishing Days. In 2020 the first is Saturday, June 6, and the second Free Fishing Day is Saturday, October 17.
The June Free Fishing Day is held in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week; the October date allows the public to take advantage of the fall trout stocking. Remember: on these days fishing is allowed on the Garden State’s public waters without a license or trout stamp. All other regulations, including size and daily catch limits, remain in effect.
New Jersey’s two Free Fishing Days are a no-risk investment for an introduction to freshwater fishing in the Garden State and the perfect time for families to enjoy two days of outdoor fun for free. Though youngsters under the age of 16 don’t need a license, these days provide a special benefit to adults who can join in the fun without having to purchase a license. That is, until they get hooked on a sport that just might become a lifetime of fun for the whole family. Free Fishing Days also provide a great opportunity for out-of-state visitors to sample some of the finest freshwater fishing opportunities in the Northeast.
For those who may not be aware, freshwater fishing in New Jersey has never been better. There are more kinds of fish and more places for people to catch them than ever before. Thanks to the Hackettstown and Pequest State Fish Hatcheries, anglers can try their luck for stocked muskellunge, northern pike, walleye, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish and lake trout in New Jersey’s larger lakes as well as rainbow trout released into the state’s smaller streams and waterways. Wild populations of fish (not hatchery raised) can also be found in abundance and anglers should pay close attention to regulations affecting them as these conservation measures are frequently more strict than for their stocked brethren. Either way, there is excellent fishing to be found statewide.
For those just starting out, the Division of Fish and Wildlife offers many programs and classes to advance from beginner to expert. The Pequest State Trout Hatchery in Oxford, Warren County offers free fishing programs. Pequest offers a Natural Resource Education Center with a variety of exhibits and displays on wildlife, a butterfly garden, picnic areas and hiking trails. There is also a handicapped-accessible fishing site along the Pequest River.
For those who enjoy group fishing, there are usually children's fishing derbies held on Free Fishing Days weekend. Derbies are organized by townships, service clubs and sportsmen’s groups, and are typically open to kids up to age 16.
For those in search of the perfect fishing hole, the Division offers a publication entitled Places to Fish, available at select Division offices and on line. This handy booklet lists only those waters with ample populations of desirable species in worthwhile sizes as well as areas that guarantee public access. In addition, the State of New Jersey has stepped up efforts to acquire public fishing access sites, so a new area could be opening up near you in the very near future.
Free Fishing Days in New Jersey offer something for everyone. Beginners, experts, residents, non-residents, those who may have gotten away from fishing and those who have never tried should not miss this great opportunity to "get hooked" on a great sport!
For more information on fishing in New Jersey including, places to fish, fishing classes, regulations, feature articles and species fact sheets, see the linked pages below.
Pages on the Division of Fish and Wildlife Website:
- Freshwater Fishing Page - Lots of helpful links!
- Places to Fish - Ponds, Lakes and Reservoirs
- Places to Fish - Rivers and Streams
- Accessible Sites for People with Disabilities
- Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Alphabetical Listing
- Fishing Access to NJ Trout Waters - Listed by County
- Pequest Fishing Programs
- Commercial (Pay for) Fishing Preserves in New Jersey
- Warmwater Fish in NJ
- Hook-A-Winner Program
- Freshwater Fishing Digest - Rules and management information
- License Information
- Where to buy a fishing license and get local information - license agents!
The following external links are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife:
- Fishing ABC's Coloring Book (US Fish & Wildlife Service) (pdf, 1.1mb)
- Fishing Fun for Kids - Fishing information and instruction for kids in a "comic book" format.
- Future Fisherman Foundation - The youth education vehicle of the American Sportfishing Association, promoting curriculum-based aquatic education and stewardship.
- National Fishing and Boating Week
- Take Me Fishing.org
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