Get out and try fishing.
That’s what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says, and to make it easy, the commission designates four days each year for license-free fishing.
For 2014 and beyond, the following dates will be license-free fishing days:
- June 7 and 8, 2014. (First Saturday and Sunday in June.)
- Sept. 6, 2014 (First Saturday in September.)
- Nov. 29, 2014 (Saturday following Thanksgiving.)
- April 5 and 6, 2014 (First Saturday and Sunday in April.)
- June 14 and 15, 2015 (Second Saturday and Sunday in June.)
So dig into your garage for that idle rod and reel, pick up some bait at your local tackle shop and get out there to enjoy the outdoors.
Fish fry, anyone?
Under a law that went into effect recently, all anglers fishing in saltwater, whether from a boat or the shore, are required to have a license in their possession.
The requirements are suspended for specified days by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to encourage residents to get out and fish.
A saltwater fishing license normally costs $17 a year for Florida residents and $47 for non-residents. The shoreline-only license is free for state residents, but you still need to apply for own and keep it in your possession while fishing. A modest handling fee is charged for the free shoreline license.
There are a few other exemptions to fishing-license requirements.
- Children under 16 are not required to have a fishing license.
- You don’t need a license if you are a Florida resident age 65 or older possessing proof of age and residency or a Resident Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate.
- Some fishing piers, such as the Naples Pier, have blanket licenses for all fishermen on their pier.
You can obtain a license online at the Florida Fish and Wildlife web site, you can purchase one at most tackle shops or you can call 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA and get one issued instantly over the phone.
The fishing-license-by-phone service has come in handy more than once for me. I’ve found myself in a boat, en route to the fishing grounds, only to discover that last year’s license had expired. I called from my cell phone, charged my renewal, and they issued my license on the spot.
One time I was caught without a pen, so I had to carve the number into my fish-measuring stick.
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For more information about saltwater fishing in Florida and licensing requirements, go to the FWC’s web site at myfwc.com