Are you an avid angler looking to cast your line in Alabama’s beautiful waters without the need for a fishing license? Or perhaps you’re new to the sport and want to try your hand at fishing without committing to a full license just yet? Look no further than Alabama’s Free Fishing Days! This annual event, sponsored by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), allows both residents and non-residents to fish in public waters without a license for a limited time.

When are Alabama’s Free Fishing Days in 2024?

Mark your calendars, because Alabama’s Free Fishing Days will take place from June 8th to June 16th, 2024, coinciding with National Fishing and Boating Week. During this nine-day period, anyone can fish in Alabama’s public waters without purchasing a fishing license, making it the perfect time for seasoned anglers to introduce friends and family to the joys of fishing or for beginners to dip their toes into the world of angling.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while the fishing license requirement is waived during Free Fishing Days, all other fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits, must still be followed. These regulations vary depending on the water body and fish species, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific rules for the area you plan to fish.

Where Can You Fish During Alabama’s Free Fishing Days?

Public Waters: Rivers, Lakes, and Coastal Areas

During Free Fishing Days, anglers have access to a wide variety of public waters across Alabama, including:

Rivers and Streams

Alabama boasts numerous rivers and streams teeming with fish, such as:

  • The Coosa River, known for its excellent spotted bass and striped bass fishing.
  • The Cahaba River, home to a variety of species like largemouth bass, spotted bass, and various sunfish.

Lakes and Reservoirs

The state is dotted with countless lakes and reservoirs that offer outstanding fishing opportunities. Some popular destinations include:

  • Lake Guntersville: Spanning 69,000 acres in northeast Alabama, Lake Guntersville is renowned for its exceptional largemouth bass fishing and hosts numerous professional tournaments throughout the year.

Lake Guntersville

  • Wheeler Lake: This 67,100-acre reservoir on the Tennessee River supports a diverse array of fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white crappie, and channel catfish.

Coastal Waters

For those looking to try their luck in saltwater, Alabama’s coastal waters provide excellent fishing opportunities. The Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores is a prime spot, stretching 1,540 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. Here, anglers can target species like Spanish mackerel, redfish, speckled trout, and flounder.

State Public Fishing Lakes

In addition to the public waters mentioned above, Alabama is home to 23 State Public Fishing Lakes (PFLs) managed by the ADCNR. These lakes, ranging from 13 to 184 acres in size, are stocked with a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, bream, and channel catfish, providing ample opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.

While fishing in these lakes is free during Free Fishing Days, anglers are required to obtain a permit, which can be purchased on-site. Some notable State Public Fishing Lakes include:

  • Fayette County Lake: This 54-acre lake is known for its excellent largemouth bass and bluegill fishing, with ample shore access and a fishing pier.
  • Madison County Lake: At 105 acres, this lake boasts good populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and channel catfish, as well as a fishing pier and boat rentals.

It’s important to note that Free Fishing Days apply only to public waters. If you wish to fish in private ponds or lakes, you must obtain permission from the property owner.

Additional Requirements and Tips

Saltwater Fishing

If you plan on fishing in saltwater during Free Fishing Days, there are a couple of additional requirements to be aware of:

  • Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement: Anglers who intend to fish for or possess certain reef fish species in the Gulf of Mexico must have a Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement. This endorsement can be obtained at no cost through the ADCNR website.
  • Saltwater Angler Registration: All anglers 16 years or older who fish in Alabama’s saltwater areas must register annually with the ADCNR. This free registration can be completed online or at select license vendors.

Fishing Pier Fees and Permits

While fishing licenses are not required during Free Fishing Days, some fishing piers may still charge additional fees or require permits. Before heading out, check with the specific pier you plan to visit for their requirements to avoid any surprises.

Fishing Methods and Techniques

During Free Fishing Days, anglers can use any legal fishing method, such as rod and reel, fly fishing, or casting. However, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with any specific regulations for the water body you plan to fish, as some methods may be restricted in certain areas.

If you’re new to fishing or looking to improve your skills, consider the following tips:

  • Choose the Right Equipment: Select a rod and reel suitable for the type of fishing you plan to do and the species you’re targeting. Don’t forget to bring appropriate line, lures, and bait.
  • Learn Basic Knots: Knowing how to tie a few essential knots, such as the improved clinch knot or the palomar knot, will help you securely attach hooks, lures, and weights to your line.
  • Practice Casting: Before hitting the water, practice your casting technique in an open area to improve accuracy and avoid tangles.
  • Observe Your Surroundings: Pay attention to weather conditions, water clarity, and structure in the area you’re fishing. These factors can help you determine where fish might be congregating and what techniques might be most effective.

Catch and Release Best Practices

While keeping your catch is allowed during Free Fishing Days (subject to size and creel limits), practicing catch and release is an excellent way to help conserve Alabama’s fish populations. If you do plan on releasing your catch, follow these best practices to minimize stress and injury to the fish:

  • Use Appropriate Gear: Choose hooks and lures that minimize damage to the fish, such as circle hooks or barbless hooks.
  • Handle with Care: Wet your hands before handling the fish to avoid removing its protective slime coat. Support the fish’s body horizontally and avoid touching its gills or eyes.
  • Remove Hooks Quickly: Use a dehooker or needle-nose pliers to remove the hook as gently and efficiently as possible. If the hook is deeply embedded, consider cutting the line as close to the hook as possible.
  • Release Promptly: Return the fish to the water as quickly as possible, supporting its body until it can swim away on its own.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that released fish have the best chance of survival and can be caught again another day.


Alabama’s Free Fishing Days offer a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors to experience the state’s diverse fishing opportunities without the need for a license. By providing this program, the ADCNR aims to encourage more people to discover the joys of fishing and promote the conservation of Alabama’s aquatic resources.

As you prepare for Free Fishing Days, remember to:

  • Follow All Regulations: While a fishing license is not required during this time, anglers must still adhere to all other fishing regulations, such as size and creel limits.
  • Obtain Necessary Permits and Endorsements: If fishing in saltwater or at certain piers, be sure to obtain any required permits or endorsements.
  • Practice Responsible Angling: Handle fish with care, follow catch and release best practices when applicable, and properly dispose of any trash or fishing line to help preserve Alabama’s fishing resources.

With a little preparation and a sense of adventure, Alabama’s Free Fishing Days can be a memorable experience for anglers of all ages and skill levels. So gather your gear, invite your friends and family, and head out to one of Alabama’s many incredible fishing destinations for a fun-filled day on the water. Who knows, you might just discover a new passion or create lasting memories with your loved ones!

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