Matthew, Owen, and Katie are having a blast catching crappie on Lake Eufaula. Introduce someone to fishing on Oklahoma's Free Fishing Days on June 6-7, when everyone can fish without a state license (Photo: Kim Opper via Facebook)
Anglers hoping to introduce someone to the sport of fishing this year have a chance to take them for free June 6-7. Everyone can fish (while practicing social distancing, of course) without a state fishing license on Oklahoma's Free Fishing Days.
"These are some of the best days to take a newcomer or youth fishing with you," said Skylar St. Yves, fishing coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "There's no state fishing license requirements, so someone who has never been before can just wake up in the morning and head out for a fun day of fishing. And someone from out of state can visit and enjoy what Oklahoma's waters have to offer without worrying about having a state fishing license."
Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days almost 40 years ago and has since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar days.
"License sales are one of the primary sources of funding for the Department," said Barry Bolton, Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Department. "Sportsmen and sportswomen pay for conservation projects when they buy a license. The Department's Free Fishing Days can help us introduce new anglers and ensure that great fishing and habitat work will continue for years to come. There's no excuse not to take someone fishing on June 6 and 7. The weather is usually nice, the fishing is great and, best of all, it's free."
While Free Fishing Days allows people to fish without having a state fishing license, anglers still must abide by all other fishing regulations including daily bag limits and size restrictions. And for folks not familiar with fishing just yet, the Department has a handy Fishing Resources page online.
Even though the outdoors are always open in Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department encourages everyone to heed health officials' recommendations for staying safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. For anglers, it's easy to distance yourself from others by the length of an adult's fishing rod.
Urban areas across the state offer angling opportunities through the Wildlife Department’s Close to Home Fishing Program, which provides quality fishing opportunities without a long drive from home. Anglers also have access to public lakes, rivers, streams and ponds across the state. People who just don't know where to start can turn to the “Where to Fish” map at www.wildlifedepartment.com/
Anglers may also sign up to receive the weekly Oklahoma Fishing Report. Compiled by Department personnel and independent contributors, this report reveals inside information on the best places to fish, when the fish are biting, and what baits they are hitting the most. Anglers can have the fishing report e-mailed to them by subscribing at www.wildlifedepartment.com/
Participants in Free Fishing Days should note that local permit requirements may still apply June 6-7 at specific fishing areas such as city lakes. Also, all of Lake Texoma is open for free fishing June 6, but free fishing will only apply to the Oklahoma portion of the lake June 7. Anglers must abide by all Texas fishing license and permit requirements when fishing the Texas portion of Lake Texoma on June 7.
The Wildlife Department is working with the Oklahoma Health Department to craft messaging that promotes responsible outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department and health authorities agree that safeguarding mental health is important and spending time outdoors is a great way to do so, while following guidelines issued by federal and state authorities.