What You Can Catch on Free Fishing Days Near You

By Debbie Hanson

May 18, 2023

List of free fishing days coming up in seven different states, which species to target, tips on where to fish, baits or lures to use on a free fishing day

You may be aware that many states offer free fishing days that give you the opportunity to try fishing without having to purchase a license, but you might not know which species to focus on during those days. In other words, some fish species are more active than others during certain times of the year. Check out these suggestions on what you can catch in seven different states on upcoming free fishing days.

California Free Fishing Days

This year California free fishing days fall on Saturday July 1 and Saturday September 2, 2023. In July consider fishing Lake Henshaw for channel catfish using a variety of baits such as chicken livers, dough balls and stink baits. When September 2nd arrives, head to San Francisco Bay to take advantage of the opportunities to fish for striped bass.

Indiana Free Fishing Days

Free fishing days in Indiana are set for May 7 and June 3-4 of this year. The months of both May and June can be good for targeting smallmouth bass on Sugar Creek or the Tippecanoe River using crayfish imitating baits and lures or jerkbaits.

Pennsylvania Free Fishing Days

May 28 and July 4 are free fishing days in PA. You can fish for smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and panfish by paying a visit to the Susquehanna River. There is a fishing access point at Fort Hunter Park (North of the city of Harrisburg) for canoes, kayaks, or small motorized boats.

Free Fishing Days in Texas

This year, Texas has a free fishing day that falls on Saturday, June 3. The month of June is a good time to pay a visit to Lake Tawakoni with stink baits and cut baits to fish for channel catfish. Lake Tawakoni State Park family fishing destination because it has camping, picnic areas, and a four-lane boat ramp.

Free Fishing Day in Tennessee

June 10 is a free fishing day in TN this year, so celebrate by making a family trip to Tellico Lake to fish for white crappie and bluegill. The lake has over 350 miles of shoreline and there are many places to fish from the bank.

Free Fishing Days New York

New York has two free fishing days coming up this summer on June 24 and 25 (plus others in February, September, and November). Pay a visit to Canadice Lake (30 miles from Rochester) to catch bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, brown trout, and rock bass. There’s public boat access on the lake’s east side and shoreline access points at the Burch Hill and Canadice Road intersection.

Free Fishing Days Oregon

License free days are coming up from June 3-4 in Oregon. June can be a great month to catch a summer steelhead on the Oregon coast. Consider a trip to the Siletz and Nestucca rivers. Plan to be on the water early and late in the day for your best chances of catching steelhead. Use small lures and flies in natural colors that imitate fish eggs, nymphs, and small minnows.


Individual states may place certain restrictions and other regulations may apply on free fishing days, so be sure to contact your state fish and wildlife agency for specific state regulations.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.