Story by Tom P. 

Freshwater fishing is free this Saturday! That’s right: no license or trout stamp required. Take a morning, afternoon or all day to check out the Garden State’s outstanding rod bending opportunities. And the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s “Buddy Fishing License” program offers wallet-smiling discounts on licenses for new anglers. Time to get fresh!

In an effort to promote the great freshwater fishing available from High Point to Cape May, the NJDF&W started what was first a “Free Fishing Weekend” in June that last year morphed into a two separate Free Fishing Days format, the first this year is Saturday, June 10 and the second will be Saturday, October 21.

“The reason for the change is that we wanted people to experience not only the great fishing in late spring but also the great fishing available during the fall season as well, especially after the extensive October trout stocking,” says Al Ivany, the Division’s chief of the Bureau of Information & Education.

From this corner, the move was a master stroke as both dates not only highlight the copious springtime trout stocking that concluded May 26 and the autumn stocking that this year will see approximately 20,500 rainbow trout from 14.7 to 20-plus inches liberated in select waters in 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties during the second and third weeks in October.

Besides the trout, both time frames are prime for the likes of largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, hybrid stripers, pickerel, walleye, white and yellow perch, muskies and pike, carp, crappies and sunfish.

But back to this Saturday.

The chilly and wet weather that has kept waters on the cooler side (great for trout) will give way to a warming trend that will be in full mode by Saturday, increasing feeding activity of all species across waters big and small, wide and narrow. One could not have picked a better time to try the sweet instead of the salty. It’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll be hooked!

Buddy Up and Save $$: Know someone who has not purchased a New Jersey fishing license since 2010, or never had one, and you’ve been too busy this spring to buy one yourself? Get together and hightail to a license issuing agent (tackle shop, box or chain store that sells fishing tackle, or your town clerk’s office) and enjoy the financial incentive provided by the Division’s “Buddy Fishing License”. Here’s the dealio: instead of the standard $22.50 fee, you and your friend will pay $11.75 each for a license. That’s nearly a 50% discount and it is good for the calendar year. Sorry, but trout stamps are not covered by the program. Still, it is one helluva bargain to experience New Jersey’s superlative freshwater fishing.

More From 105.7 The Hawk