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Conduct a Free Fishing Clinic

To protect the health and safety of participants and organizers, DEC will not be approving applications to conduct free fishing clinics for the remainder of the year. However, we remain hopeful that we'll be able to resume programming in 2021. Want to learn how to fish but not sure how to get started? The I FISH NY Beginners Guide to Freshwater Fishing has a ton of helpful information to get you on the water in no time! Stay tuned for new instructional videos to be released soon.

Happy fishing clinic participant holding her certificate

The sport of fishing is one of the best ways to connect people of all ages to the outdoor world. Attending a fishing clinic can provide a great introduction to the sport and provide answers to the many questions you may have. Approved free sportfishing clinics waive the requirement of participants to possess a fishing license or enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry (during program hours only). All other applicable fishing regulations remain in effect during an event. Organizations or groups interested in conducting a free sportfishing clinic should fill out the Application to Conduct a Free Sportfishing Clinic (PDF) at least 30 days prior to the planned event and mail it to:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Bureau of Fisheries
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4753

Events must be conducted according to the following guidelines:

  1. Event coordinators must fill out and submit to the DEC Bureau of Fisheries an Application to Conduct a Free Sport Fishing Clinic (PDF) a minimum of 1 month prior to the event.
  2. Event must be conducted by a group or organization, not an individual.
  3. Events must have an educational focus, including instruction in recreational angling and its benefits and values. Events may also include instruction and other information relevant to an understanding of fisheries management, ethics and aquatic ecology and habitat. DEC educational materials should be utilized whenever possible.
  4. Events shall be publicized via flyers, newspaper articles, local access TV, etc. to maximize public participation.
  5. All adults assisting with a children's fishing clinic must be screened against the Public Registry of Sex Offenders (leaves DEC's website).
  6. Except as noted under item 7, events must be open to the general public.
  7. Fishing events held as part of a K-12 school program, youth camp or a youth organization such as the Girl or Boy Scouts will be eligible for free fishing event status, as long as there is no additional charge for participation in the event. Events associated with a specific age (i.e. children or senior clinics), or special needs group (i.e. visually impaired) are permissible as long as there is no additional fee charged for participation.
  8. No admission may be charged for free fishing events. Parking fees associated with events held at public parks are acceptable.
  9. The event location should be large enough to handle the attendance anticipated and should have bathroom facilities.
  10. Derbies or other competitive fishing events will not be considered for free fishing status.
  11. A report indicating the number and approximate ages of event participants must be provided to the Bureau of Fisheries within 30 days of the completion of the event.

For more information:

Free Sportfishing Clinic Application (PDF)
Free Fishing Clinic List
Free Fishing Weekend