Free Fishing Day is June 13, 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 that’s not an option because of COVID-19, it’s still a great opportunity for novice anglers to experience some of the wonderful fishing opportunities Idaho has to offer. Be sure to practice appropriate social distancing and be safe when you’re enjoying your time outdoors.
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, as well as millions of young salmon and steelhead destined for the ocean that will later return as adults.
“In the month leading up to Free Fishing Day, Fish and Game hatcheries stock over 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.
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.
One of the easiest access local locations to experience a free fishing day is Sawyers Pond. Located on the southern outskirts of Emmett, Sawyers Pond has a long-standing reputation for providing a convenient fishery for bass, bluegill and trout. This large pond complex offers ample shore and dock fishing, but also has a boat launch and is the perfect fishery for small craft. Anglers use various species-specific techniques to catch their targeted species. Try fishing along vegetation beds and structure for bass and bluegill, while trout are best targeted in the deeper open water.