Don Mallicoat

Free Fishing Day


By Don Mallicoat –

Independence Day, Fourth of July, falls on a Thursday this year. That means it will probably be a long weekend for many folks. Fishing for a fun and inexpensive way to celebrate Independence Day? The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission invites anglers and would-be anglers of all ages to go fishing — for free. On July 4 from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m., everyone in North Carolina — resident and non-residents alike — can fish in any public body of water, including coastal waters, without purchasing a fishing license or additional trout fishing privilege.

Although no fishing license is required, all other fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits and lure restrictions, still apply. To give anglers a better chance of catching fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in waters across the state — including trout and channel catfish. The agency also provides access to fishing sites across the state, including public fishing areas and boating access areas. The interactive fishing and boating maps on the Commission’s website list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, many of which are free, that are open to the public.

Authorized by the N.C. General Assembly and started in 1994, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day always falls on July 4. On all other days of the year, a fishing license is not required for anglers 15 years and younger, but anyone age 16 and older must have a fishing license to fish in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters.

I’m sure by now most of you have heard the news about a poached black bear that was found dead in Buncombe County last. Based on details available as of this writing it appears in response to “Operation Something Bruin” that broke up a bear poaching ring in the southwestern part of the state. I will not repeat the details. It has been in the news. I just want to say to anyone out there who doesn’t hunt, please do not lump these people in with hunters. They are not. They are criminals. Ethical hunters, based on feedback I’ve received, want them prosecuted to the full extent of the law. After all the news media flurry on the day it was announced, the NC Wildlife Federation added $17,000 to the reward for conviction. That is a $20,000 reward. If you have any information that may lead to the successful conviction of whoever did this, call the Violation Hotline at 800-662-7137.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will begin issuing Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permits on July 1, allowing new hunters to go afield under the guidance of licensed adult mentors before taking a required hunter education course.Gov. Pat McCrory recently signed into law the legislation enabling the apprentice permit program in North Carolina.

The Hunter Heritage Apprentice Permit allows someone to purchase a hunting license without first having completed hunter education, then go hunting, as long as the apprentice is within sight and hearing distance of an accompanying licensed hunter who is at least 18 years old and who has completed a hunter education course. It also allows someone to hunt when accompanied by an adult landholder or landholder’s spouse who is exempt from the hunting license requirement as long as the individual is hunting on the landholder’s property. All hunters must follow all other applicable licensing requirements and hunting regulations. There is no cost to the permit but applicable hunting licenses must be purchased to include big game tags.

Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers said the Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit provides an appealing option for family-oriented hunting opportunities, such as dove hunts. “If someone is invited to a family dove hunt on the day before the season opens, the Hunter Heritage Apprentice Permit would allow that person to participate under the watchful eye of experienced hunters,” Myers said. “I believe that after enjoying the outdoors and fellowship associated with a dove hunt, an apprentice hunter will be very interested in attending a hunter education class, and hopefully, bring a friend.”

The Hunter Heritage Apprentice Permit is a product of the Wildlife Commission’s Strategic Recruitment and Retention Initiative, an ongoing effort to increase participation in hunting, fishing, conservation and outdoor recreation. North Carolina is the 35th state to enact an apprentice permit, according to Families Afield, a program established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and National Wild Turkey Federation to bring a new generation into hunting.

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