With more than 3 million anglers in Florida, the state hopes to encourage even more people to try out the sport.
During its Feb. 13 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) selected Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, Sept. 1 as the 2013 saltwater license-free fishing days. On these days, the requirement to have a recreational fishing license is waived for Florida’s residents and visitors while they are saltwater fishing.
The FWC offers four license-free fishing days a year: two saltwater and two freshwater. While the Commission selects new saltwater license-free fishing days on an annual basis, freshwater license-free fishing days are set to the first Saturday in April and the second Saturday in June.
This year’s freshwater license-free fishing days are Saturday, April 6 and Saturday, June 8. To make these events accessible to as many people as possible, the FWC plans these dates around holiday weekends and national events.
This year’s June 1 saltwater and the June 8 freshwater license-free days are during National Fishing and Boating Week. Highlighted by significant national media coverage and public events, this week promotes boating and fishing across the country as fun and healthy outdoor activities. In 2012, 37 states had at least one license-free fishing day during this annual event.
The Sept. 1 saltwater license-free day falls on Labor Day weekend, when many families will be out on the water, enjoying one of the last big fishing weekends of summer. The ever-popular bay scallop season is also open to harvest on this date.
According to the FWC, license-free days not only introduce new anglers to the lifetime sport of fishing, they also economically benefit the state as those 3 million anglers cited by the American Sportfishing Association’s “Sportfishing in America” report, shop at tackle stores, purchase boat fuel and bait and travel to their favorite fishing hole. Some of this money even finds its way back to the FWC via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program specifically to create more fishing and boating opportunities.
All other regulations such as seasons, size limits and bag limits still apply on the free license days.