Discover License-Free Fishing Spots in Pennsylvania: Your Guide to Angling without Restrictions

Where can you go fishing without a license in Pennsylvania?

Fishing is a relaxing and enjoyable activity that allows you to connect with nature while trying your luck at reeling in the catch of the day. In Pennsylvania, having a fishing license is typically required for anyone aged 16 or older who wishes to fish legally. However, there are some exceptions and opportunities for individuals to enjoy this pastime without the need for a license. Let’s explore where you can go fishing without a license in Pennsylvania.

1. Fish-for-Free Days

Pennsylvania offers several designated “Fish-for-Free” days throughout the year where residents and non-residents alike can fish without needing a valid fishing license. These special days usually fall around public holidays such as Memorial Day weekend (late May) and Independence Day (early July). It’s an excellent opportunity for families, friends, and beginners to experience the joy of angling together.

2. Public Bodies of Water

In addition to Fish-for-Free days, certain public bodies of water within Pennsylvania allow anyone to fish without purchasing a fishing license all year round. This includes lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, creeks, streams managed by both state and local governments or municipalities.

The following waters managed by PA state agencies are open for unlicensed fishing:

  • – State parks
  • – State forests
  • – State game lands
  • – Commonwealth-managed lakes & ponds
  • – Delaware River – from Trenton Falls downstream through tidal waters​


This exemption does NOT apply if accessed via private property or any other restricted areas not specifically mentioned above.

3. Private Waters

While many private waters require a fishing license, some landowners generously open their ponds and lakes to the public for fishing without a license. These privately-owned areas may have specific rules or regulations that anglers need to abide by, so it’s crucial to respect any posted guidelines or seek permission before casting your line.

4. Mentored Youth Fishing Program

Pennsylvania also has a special program called the “Mentored Youth Fishing Program,” which allows children under 16 years old and adult mentors who accompany them to fish in approved waters without requiring a fishing license. This initiative aims to introduce youngsters to the joys of fishing while under proper guidance, fostering an appreciation for nature and conservation.


The mentor must possess either a valid Pennsylvania fishing license or qualify for an exemption.

In conclusion,

While having a valid fishing license is generally required in Pennsylvania, there are various opportunities available where you can enjoy this recreational activity without needing one. From designated Fish-for-Free days to publicly managed bodies of water and private properties granting access, there is something suitable for every angler out there. Remember always to check local regulations and obtain necessary permissions when venturing onto private lands. So grab your gear, head out on the water, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Pennsylvania’s abundant fishing resources!