Fishing License Requirement Waived to Honor New York’s Veterans and Encourage New Yorkers to Get Outdoors and Enjoy State’s Fishing Opportunities

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that New York residents and non-residents can fish for free without a license on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11. New York’s Free Fishing Days encourage more people to get outdoors and enjoy the state’s world-class fishing opportunities. Legislation signed by the Governor in 2015 allowed an increase in the number of authorized statewide Free Fishing Days. Every year since, Veterans Day has been designated as a Free Fishing Day.

“The Veterans Day Free Fishing Day is just one way to acknowledge the contributions of our veterans while offering the opportunity to enjoy some of the best fishing spots in the nation, right here in the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said. “I encourage everyone from expert anglers to beginners to take advantage of this Free Fishing Day and enjoy everything New York has to offer.” 

The Free Fishing Days program is administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative. The free fishing days program began in 1991, to give people who might not fish a chance to try the sport at no cost, introduce people to a new hobby, and encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license. 

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Free fishing on Veterans Day recognizes the service of men and women in our armed forces and is a great opportunity for experienced anglers to introduce friends and relatives to the sport. As we all work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, more New Yorkers are heading outdoors in search of local recreational activities. Being near the water, enjoying some of the state’s world-class fisheries, is an excellent way to unwind and learn more about the sport of fishing.”

Free Fishing Day participants are reminded that although the requirement for a fishing license is waived during free fishing days, all other fishing regulations remain in effect. When not participating in Free Fishing Days, anyone 16 years of age and older must have a current State fishing license to fish in New York. Fishing licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. More information on purchasing a fishing license can be found on DEC’s website. 

Fishing and hunting in New York build a sense of stewardship of fish and wildlife resources and habitats, provide an opportunity for experienced hunters and anglers to share their knowledge with others, and promote participation in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting through the mentoring of young hunters and anglers. New York’s hunters and anglers contribute an estimated $4.9 billion to the economy in spending, which supports more than 56,000 jobs and $623 million in state and local taxes. To find out about angling opportunities near you, visit Places to Fish on DEC’s website or download the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App.

New York State continues to encourage people to engage in responsible recreation during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. This fall, anglers should be mindful in taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 while enjoying the outstanding fishing opportunities throughout the state. At popular angling destinations, especially the Salmon River in Oswego County, angler density can become high enough to make social distancing difficult. DEC is placing signage at popular locations reminding anglers to be SMART when fishing this year:

  • Socially distance at least six feet apart;
  • Mask – Wear one when you cannot maintain social distancing, especially in parking lots and along footpaths;
  • Avoid sharing gear when possible;
  • Respect your fellow anglers and the resource by providing space and practicing ethical angling; and
  • Take out what you bring in or place trash in receptacles. 

Anglers fishing from a boat should make sure it’s large enough so persons on board are at least six feet apart from one another. For more information on boating guidelines and safety, go to State Parks website and for more information about how to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL, visit DEC’s website.

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