06/25/08 — Free fishing on Fourth of July

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Free fishing on Fourth of July

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 25, 2008 1:45 PM

RALEIGH -- Along with watching fireworks and grilling out, celebrate Independence Day by indulging in another favorite pastime, fishing -- no license needed!

From midnight until 11:59 p.m. on July 4, anyone -- resident or non-resident -- can fish in any public water, including mountain trout waters and coastal waters, in North Carolina without a fishing license.

So that anglers of all ages and skill levels have an excellent chance of catching fish, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state, from trout in the mountains to striped bass and channel catfish in the Piedmont and coastal regions.

"The purpose of the free fishing day is to show people how much fun fishing can be," said Kent Nelson, fisheries program manager for the Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries. "It's a great way to spend quality time with your kids outdoors and help them develop an interest in nature and conservation."

To make finding a spot to cast a line easier, the agency has listed on its Web site, www.ncwildlife.org, nearly 500 areas that are accessible to the public for fishing. Click on the Fishing link on the left side of the page; then click the Go Fishing! icon on the fishing page.

More than 100 areas are managed by the Commission as either a Community Fishing Program (CFP) site or a Public Fishing Area (PFA), while others are managed by local parks and recreation departments, power companies, N.C. State Parks and other natural resource agencies.

PFAs provide free fishing opportunities from the banks of North Carolina's waters. The Commission clears the banks of underbrush and, in some cases, constructs universally accessible fishing piers, and installs fish attractors. CFP sites are intensively managed bodies of water receiving monthly stockings of catchable-sized channel catfish from April to September. Many sites also feature universally accessible fishing piers and solar-powered fish feeders. In addition, the Commission's Tackle Loaner Program, available at many CFP sites, lets anglers borrow rods and reels free of charge for a day.

While the fishing is free on July 4, fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits, bait and tackle restrictions, and park use fees apply.

North Carolina residents age 16 and older who are interested in fishing the remaining 364 days of the year can purchase a one-year comprehensive inland fishing license, which includes public trout waters, for $20. A one-year license to fish in coastal waters is $15. To fish in inland and coastal waters, including public trout waters, a unified license is $35 and is valid for one year from purchase date. To purchase a license:

*Go online, www.ncwildlife.org;

*Call 1-888-248-6834, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday; from May to September, seven days a week;

*Visit one of nearly 1,000 wildlife service agents located across the state.

For more information about fishing in North Carolina's public inland waters, visit the agency's Web site,www.ncwildlife.org or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 707-0220.