Hey, anglers, if you’re fishing for a freebie, Texas parks are happy to hook you up. Saturday, June 5 marks Texas’ annual Free Fishing Day, giving Texans the ability to fish on any public body of water in the state without the need for a fishing license.
In honor of Free Fishing Day, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has reeled in some fishing resources to help anglers of all skill levels and ages net a great catch. Here’s what you need to know before casting your line:
- Bone up on fishing 101. Don’t be a fish out of water. Learn the basics of fishing, get expert tips, and check out a variety of online videos. Resources for how to get started, make sure you’re up on your safety guidelines and have the appropriate supplies and gear, understand casting, baiting, cleaning, and storing fish are available on the TPWD Learn to Fish webpage.
- Find a place to fish close to home. From the Gulf of Mexico to countless lakes and rivers, Texas offers a ton of spots with access to fishing. The Lake Finder page on the TPWD website can help fish fiends find lakes by region or alphabetically. It also has loads of info and fishing tips for more than 150 Texas lakes, as does the community fishing lakes page.
- You can saltwater fish from a pier. Up and down the gorgeous Texas coast, there are numerous wheelchair-accessible fishing piers available for public use. TPWD notes that piers are also a great spot for younger or first-time anglers to try saltwater fishing without the need for a boat. Public access sites can be found in every bay system.
- Fish in the city. Texas is so awesome that you don’t even have to leave town to get your fish on. Neighborhood fishing lakes provide urban angling access across the state. TPWD says there are 18 such lakes where catching channel catfish is the name of the fishing game. They include five in Dallas-Fort Worth; two each in the Austin and San Antonio areas; four in the Houston area; and one each in Amarillo, College Station, San Angelo, Waco, and Wichita Falls. Information about lake locations, as well as how-to fishing videos, is available on the Neighborhood Fishin’ website.
- Take in an outdoor adventure. On Free Fishing Day, TPWD, the City of Abilene, and other organizations will offer outdoor education activities for kids and adults from 9 am-3 pm at the Abilene Outdoor Adventures 2021 event at Cal Young Park. Enjoy fishing education and fishing for catfish (some loaner tackle and bait will be provided) at the park pond then check out the TPWD and community booths, and take in some archery, wildlife education, and plant identification activities, and check out backpacking, camping, and kayak demonstrations.
- Fish from a kayak on a Texas Paddling Trail. Just because you don’t have a giant trawler doesn’t mean you can’t fish from your boat. As TPWD notes, the Lone Star State boasts more than 3,700 named streams, 15 major rivers, and 3,300 miles of tidal shoreline along the Gulf Coast — all ideal spots for paddling adventures and angling opportunities of all types. Texans can enjoy improved and maintained fishing and paddling access to rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, bayous, and bays on any of the 78 official Texas Paddling Trails available throughout the state.
- Fish in a state park. Though fishing is free year-round at every Texas State Park, this is your chance to check out some special fishing events at a state park near you. Three state parks will offer special events on June 5: Fort Boggy State Park northeast of College Station will host the Summer Bash Kids Fish, Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center near Houston will offer the Catfish Corral, and Bonham State Park northeast of Dallas will host a Family Fishing event.
- Help conservation efforts with your license purchase. Fun fishing fact: The entirety of fishing license fees go to TPWD for on-the-ground conservation efforts, including fish stocking, that help make Texas one of the best places in the country to fish. For more information about licensing, visit the TPWD licenses page.
Despite the array of prime fishing spots available to anglers on Free Fishing Day, TPWD notes that should you plan on fishing in federal waters, a license is needed for the private recreational angler red snapper season, which opened June 1.
While Free Fishing Day is one of the perks of living and fishing in Texas, TPWD says the day is also a chance for the department to emphasize the importance of obtaining a fishing license, like the Year-from-Purchase All-Water Fishing Package for Texas residents, which allows anglers to fish in fresh and saltwater for an entire year.
“Free Fishing Day is a wonderful opportunity for anglers to share their knowledge, skills, equipment, and love for fishing with a new participant, yet it’s also more than that,” says Craig Bonds, TPWD’s inland fisheries director, in a news release. “We hope those trying fishing on this special day will also learn that purchasing a license is an act of conservation. A fishing license purchase is one of the simplest and most effective ways people can support fisheries science and management.”