Free fishing day this Saturday, July 3

The first of two 2021 Free Fishing Days in California occurs Saturday, July 3, when no sport fishing license is needed. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) urges anglers to fish responsibly and choose those waters not suffering extensively from drought conditions.

“California anglers are incredibly fortunate to have such a wide variety of fish species and a huge diversity of fishing opportunities and experiences to choose from July 3,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We would ask that anglers pick their destinations carefully given the drought conditions impacting some of our waters. Please try and avoid those waters visibly suffering from the drought’s impacts where warm water and low water already may be stressing fish populations.”

Anglers planning to fish inland waters and release the fish they catch can help reduce fish stress levels caused by warmer and lower-than-usual water and increase survival rates by voluntarily adopting the following practices:

  • Assess the water for extreme drought conditions before committing to fish there
  • Fish before the day heats up
  • Handle fish as little as possible
  • Try to keep fish in the water as much as possible when removing hooks

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – typically around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends – when it is legal to fish without any license. California’s second Free Fishing Day will take place Saturday, September 4. To fish the rest of the year, a license is required and available for purchase online through CDFW’s website.

The July 3 Free Fishing Day arrives as California’s fishing seasons are in full swing statewide. California’s recreational ocean salmon season is now open from Monterey Bay north to the Oregon border. Trout seasons are open statewide and summer months offer some of the best fishing for warmwater species such as black bass, catfish and bluegill. Some CDFW Regions offer a Fishing in the City program where anglers can fish in the middle of major metropolitan areas perhaps just a few blocks from home.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect on Free Fishing Days. Anglers must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online ( or use CDFW’s mobile website to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $52.66, while a one-day fishing license costs $17.02.