Indiana Free Fishing Days & Learn to Fish Program | 2024

Indiana Free Fishing Days

In Indiana, free fishing days are a cherished tradition that offers anglers of all ages the opportunity to enjoy the state’s waters without purchasing a fishing license. For four days each year, Indiana residents and visitors can cast their lines into any public body of water in the state without a license, making it a perfect opportunity for families and friends to experience the joy of fishing together.

Fishing is one of those activities that you don’t know if your kids will like until they try it. Thanks to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, there are opportunities to try fishing for free!

You may be familiar with the giant fishing pond at the Indiana State Fairgrounds at the back of the DNR building. Lots of kids learn to fish at the fairgrounds each summer, but there are also days when kids and their parents can try fishing around the state during the year. Indiana DNR hosts four Indiana free fishing days and at some properties, they even have equipment and bait for you to use. Instruction and education are also provided.

Indiana free fishing days Kids' fishing derby at Eagle Creek.

2024 Indiana Free Fishing Days

Free fishing days in Indiana are typically held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the summer. The specific dates for these events are announced by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) each year. On these dates, anglers are free to fish in any public waterway, including lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds.

On Free Fishing Days, Indiana residents do not need a fishing license or a trout/salmon stamp to fish the state’s public waters. All other rules such as seasons, bag, and size limits apply.

For many families, free fishing days are an excellent opportunity to introduce children to the joys of fishing. Because fishing licenses can be expensive, it can be challenging to justify the expense of a license for a child who may only be interested in fishing for a short time. Free fishing days provide a low-cost alternative, allowing families to try fishing without the financial burden of purchasing a license.

In 2024, Indiana Free Fishing Days will be held on:

  • Sunday, May 12
  • Saturday, June 1
  • Sunday, June 2
  • Saturday, September 28

Indiana free fishing days: Kids' fishing derby at the state park

Free Fishing Day at Indianapolis’ Fort Harrison State Park

Typically, there is a free fishing day at Eagle Creek City Park in June and at Fort Harrison State Park in the spring or early summer, but the details for 2024 are not available yet.

Indiana free fishing days: DNR hosted kids' fishing days

Where to go Fishing in Indianapolis

There are many places to go fishing near Indy, but we’re mostly experts on the best places to go fishing in Indianapolis with kids. If you choose to purchase your own fishing gear, we like this children’s fishing pole, since it comes with everything you need. If you want something that’s $10 or less, check out this fishing pole.

The benefits of fishing are numerous, and many families enjoy the experience of spending time together in nature, exploring new places, and learning about different types of fish and their habitats. Fishing can also be a great way to relax and unwind, providing a sense of peace and tranquility that is hard to find in today’s busy world. For children, fishing can teach patience, perseverance, and the value of hard work, as well as provide an opportunity to learn about science and the natural world.

Indiana free fishing days: Kids learning to fish and no fishing license is needed.

Here are some other popular Indiana free fishing events for kids in 2024. These state DNR properties are holding events for kids and they’re a lot of fun! Bring your own fishing poles if you have them, but don’t worry if you don’t. Generally, fishing poles are available to borrow for these events.

Fishing at Earth Day at Spring Mill State Park
2024 Date TBA

Youth Fishing Derby at Summit Lake State Park
Saturday, June 1, 2024
9 am-12 pm

Kids’ Fishing Derby and Outdoor Skills Workshop at O’Bannon Woods State Park
2024 Date TBA

Kids Fishing Derby at Patoka Lake
2024 Date TBA

Youth Fishing Derby at Racoon SRA/Cecil M Harden Lake
Satuday, June 1, 2024
8:30-11:30 am

No License Indiana Free Fishing Days

There are only four days each year that you don’t need a fishing license to go fishing in Indiana. If you go fishing any of the other 361 days and you are 18 or older, you need a fishing license.

Get some fresh air with our guide to all the best places to play outdoors.

Learn about Indiana wildlife at a local nature center.

Indiana free fishing days

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