Free Fishing Day is June 12, and anyone can enjoy a day of fishing without a fishing license, but all other rules still apply.
Free Fishing Day is an Idaho tradition that usually includes Fish and Game employees and volunteers bringing fishing gear to various fishing spots and loaning rods, reels and tackle and helping people learn to fish. While Fish and Game staff will not be hosting any events in 2021, it's still a great opportunity for novice anglers to experience some of the wonderful fishing opportunities Idaho has to offer.
If you’re new to fishing, or new to fishing in Idaho, the state has thousands of places to fish, and you can catch a variety of species ranging from palm-sized bluegill to 9-foot sturgeon.
Fish and Game also stocks about 30 million fish annually for anglers, which includes millions of trout that are immediately available to catch.
“In the month leading up to Free Fishing Day, Fish and Game hatcheries stocked about 400,000 catchable rainbow trout in waters throughout the state,” Fish and Game Hatchery Manager Bryan Grant said.
Catchable-sized trout ranging from about 10 to 13 inches are stocked statewide and in many easily accessible fishing spots, including community ponds, local reservoirs and nearby lakes. Those are all convenient places to go for Free Fishing Day that are close to home and provide a good chance to catch fish.
Anglers can also fish for salmon during Free Fishing Day and no Chinook permit is required during the day, but all bag limits and other rules apply. To learn more see the Chinook fishing webpage.
If you don’t have fishing gear, it’s fairly inexpensive to get started. You can get a basic rod/reel combo for about $25, and the only tackle you need at first is a few hooks, weights, bobbers and bait, which will costly only a few bucks more. It’s tough to beat live worms for bait because nearly all fish will eat them, but if you don’t want to deal with squirming live worms, there are many other bait options, and lures, flies and other tackle give you even more options.
If you’re unsure how to rig a rod for fishing, Fish and Game provides simple instructions on its Learn to Fish webpage. For information about bag limits and other rules, see the 2019-21 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules booklet, which is available in a printed booklet at Fish and Game offices and many license vendors and sporting goods stores.
Fishing is a fun family activity, and easy for kids to learn. Remember when taking young kids out to make sure they wear lifejackets and bring lots of snacks, a hat and sunscreen. Be patient with kids and enjoy your time outdoors with them, even if the kids decide they’d rather explore nature or do something other than fishing.
If you’re wondering where to fish, you can start by checking out the hatchery stocking highlights from May and June, which feature waters in each of Fish and Game's seven regions. You can also find a fishing spot, as well information on when it was last stocked, by to going to Fish and Game’s Fishing Planner.
Family fishing for Kokanee on Lake Pend Oreille, Photo by Glenn Oakley for IDFG