Ohio’s “Free Fishing Days” are open to all Ohio residents and extend to all of Ohio’s public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. This is the only weekend all year that does not require anyone 16-years-old or older to obtain a fishing license.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife’s six fish hatcheries stocked more than 66 million sport fish in public waters in 2017, including walleye, saugeye, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass, which will provide opportunities for more than 1.3 million Ohio anglers.
Ohio State Parks is also offering a camping discount during Ohio’s Free Fishing Days. Campers can receive a 20 percent off discount May 4 to 6 by using the promotion code 18ANGLER on new reservations only.
The Free Fishing Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of catching a fish.
Here are some helpful tips for taking a youngster out fishing:
• Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level.
• Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish.
• A spin-cast reel is usually the easiest for kids to use.
• Bring a camera and snacks.
• Be patient – plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures.
• Most of all, have fun.
Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters when not fishing on Ohio’s free fishing weekend. An Ohio resident fishing license is only $19 a year for residents. Fishing licenses are available at participating agents and wildohio.gov.
The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife’s fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.
The SFR is a partnership between federal and state governments, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finder and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education, and acquire and develop boat accesses.