Ohio’s annual free fishing days on Saturday and Sunday, June 17-18 provide all Ohio residents the chance to cast a line at hundreds of public fishing locations without the need for a license, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
“Fishing is a pastime that’s meant to be shared with friends and family,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. “We encourage everyone to come out and experience the abundant fishing opportunities Ohio has to offer.”
This will be the only weekend of the year on which residents 16 and older can fish public waters without purchasing a fishing license. Anglers under 16 can fish for free year-round. The annual free fishing days are an excellent opportunity for beginner and experienced anglers to try fishing in any of Ohio’s public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. All other fishing regulations, size requirements, and bag limits apply.
The Division of Wildlife’s once-a-year free fishing days aim to expand access to and participation in this popular summer activity. With no license fee this weekend and requiring minimal equipment, fishing is a great low-cost outdoor activity. Anglers are encouraged to introduce someone new to fishing and make lasting memories on the water.
The free fishing days offer a unique chance to try fishing for the first time.
Here are some tips for those just starting out:
- Keep the trip simple by considering a person’s age and skill level.
- Choose a pond, lake, or stream where beginners can easily catch a few fish.
- Use live bait to increase the odds of catching a fish. Live bait is also more interesting for children.
- Bring a camera and snacks.
- Be patient. Be prepared to spend time untangling lines, baiting hooks, waiting for a bite, landing fish, and taking pictures.
- Most of all, keep the trip fun!
Ohio’s lakes, reservoirs, and streams offer exceptional fishing opportunities. The Division of Wildlife manages the fisheries of 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2.25 million acres of Lake Erie, and Ohio’s portion of 481 miles of the Ohio River.
The Division of Wildlife works to improve spawning habitat, construct fish attractors and structures, and implement fishing regulations. In 2022, the agency stocked more than 52 million fish in Ohio waters. More than 200 locations statewide are stocked with species such as walleye, saugeye, yellow perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish, and hybrid-striped bass.
There are many resources to make your fishing trip fun and unforgettable. Use the HuntFish OH mobile application or visit the Go and Do fishing page at ohiodnr.gov to explore public fishing destinations near you. If you are new to fishing and need help getting started, the Division of Wildlife has the resources to set you up for success. The Wild Ohio Harvest Community has online modules, events, learning opportunities, and recipes to get you started. Find information on special locations like Lake Erie and the Ohio River, fishing tips and tricks, and suggestions for targeting specific species on the Fishing License and Resources page at wildohio.gov.
Outside of the free fishing days on June 17-18, all anglers 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs, and turtles. Licenses can be purchased at participating agents, at wildohio.gov, or on the HuntFish OH mobile application. Remember to check the 2023-24 Fishing Regulations before you go.
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