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MOREHEAD CITY – Anglers can cast their lines into the surf without a fishing license and without fear of getting a ticket on Independence Day.

State law establishes July 4 every year as a free fishing day for all public fishing waters in North Carolina – both saltwater and freshwater – as a way to promote the sport of fishing.

Free fishing runs from midnight to 11:59 p.m. July 4 and applies to residents and non-residents alike who fish with recreational gear.

However, those fishing coastal waters with gill nets, trawl nets, crab pots or other commercial gear still need appropriate licenses.

All size and bag limits and other fishing regulations remain in effect, as well.

Fishermen age 16 and older who want to fish the remaining 364 days of the year need to hold a fishing license.

Annual saltwater fishing licenses sell for $15 to N.C. residents and $30 to non-residents. Ten-day licenses sell for $5 to residents and $10 to non-residents. A variety of lifetime and combined saltwater, freshwater and hunting licenses are available, as well.

Fishermen can purchase a license 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Web site at or by calling (888) 248-6834 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except state holidays.

Licenses are also sold through many tackle shops and other stores that sell sporting goods, and at N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries offices.
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