New York State is home to an abundance of freshwater fish, making our state an excellent destination for anglers of all levels.

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Whether you're a first-time angler or a seasoned pro, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) offers resources and programs to help you learn to fish and take advantage of the state's plentiful fishing opportunities.

Free Fishing Days

One of the most exciting programs offered by the DEC is Free Fishing Days. On these days, residents and non-residents who are 16 years old and above can fish without a freshwater fishing license or recreational marine fishing registration. Kids under 16 years old can always fish for free! Fishing regulations still apply on these days.

2024 Free Fishing Days Schedule

February 17-18 (President's Day Weekend)
September 28 (National Hunting and Fishing Day)
November 11 (Veterans Day)

These days offer the perfect opportunity to try out fishing for the first time, get back into the sport, or take friends or family along to fish. Not having fishing equipment is not a problem. You can borrow fishing gear for the day from one of the many providers statewide.

Free Learn to Fish Clinics

DEC and other organizations offer free Learn to Fish Clinics to help new anglers become familiar with the sport. The sport fishing clinics are instructor-led, and they offer an excellent opportunity for anglers to learn how to get into the sport of angling.

Additionally, formal groups or organizations interested in running free fishing clinics may apply to conduct a free fishing clinic event. These programs encourage the development of fishing skills that promote fishing participation.

I FISH NY Programs

I FISH NY is a program that offers several free programs across New York State. These programs include fishing rod loans, fishing education programs for groups, and in-school programs, among others.

The primary objective of I FISH NY's program is to increase fishing participation, introduce new anglers to the sport, and create awareness about New York State's terrific fishing opportunities. You can get more details about I FISH NY programs from their website.

Fishing Tips and Skills

Suppose you are a beginner angler and don't know much about fishing techniques, skills, and tips. In that case, you can find useful information on the DEC's website. This information includes the equipment and gear you'll require, specific methods to use for targeting specific species, where to find and look for fish, tips on fishing with kids, and much more.

"How To" Videos

To encourage more people to learn how to fish, the DEC has produced several "How To" videos available on their website, explaining how to start fishing, tie basic fishing knots, and rig bobbers and worms. The videos also cover casting a spin-casting rod, identifying common freshwater fish, and gear essentials for ice fishing.

Getting Started Guides and Brochures

The DEC also offers several guides and brochures on how to get started in freshwater fishing, with titles such as "I FISH NY Beginners' Guide to Freshwater Fishing," "I FISH NY Guide to Ice Fishing," and "I FISH NY Guide to Brook Trout Fishing in Adirondack Ponds" among others. These guides are available on their website.

Regulations and Licenses

For the most part, individuals who are 16 years and older require fishing licenses. Aside from the free fishing days and free fishing clinic events, fishing licenses are required to fish. More information regarding fishing license requirements and fishing regulations can be found on the DEC's website or by contacting their local office.

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