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Conduct a Free Fishing Clinic

The sport of fishing is one of the best ways to connect people of all ages to the outdoors. Attending a fishing clinic can provide a great introduction to the sport and help answer questions you might have.

Approved free sport fishing 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 formal groups interested in conducting a free sport fishing 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

New Safety Guidelines for Conducting a Free Fishing Clinic during COVID-19

In the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, additional safety precautions must be taken to help ensure the safety of both clinic organizers and participants. Organizers and participants for approved free sportfishing clinics must comply with the following safety guidelines. Failure to do so will result in denial of future applications.

If you cannot adhere to these guidelines, please do not apply.

Participants not adhering to the guidelines should be politely asked to abide by them or they must leave.

  • Programs will be limited to no more than 25 total participants.
  • Pre-registration required.
  • A mask covering nose and mouth must be worn at all times.
  • A minimum of six feet must be maintained between instructors and participants.
  • A minimum of six feet must be maintained between participants except those that are of immediate family.
  • Equipment will not be allowed to be shared during event. Equipment must be properly disinfected or "quarantined" for 7 days prior to use in another program. (For disinfection recommendations email fwfish@dec.ny.gov.)
  • With the exception of members of the same household/party, bait cups will not be shared.
  • A handwashing station or hand sanitizer must be provided. Participants should be encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer.
  • Anglers will be instructed on unhooking their own fish. If unable to do so, program staff may assist provided that 6' of distance is maintained.

Rules for DEC Permitted Free Sport Fishing Clinics

  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 formal group or organization, not an individual.
  3. Events must be educational and include instruction in recreational angling and its benefits. Events may also include instruction and other information pertaining to fish identification, ethics and aquatic ecology and habitat. DEC educational materials should be utilized whenever possible. (Curricula will be sent to approved groups.)
  4. Events must be broadly 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 website).
  6. Except as noted under item 7, events must be open to the general public.
  7. Fishing events associated with a specific age or special needs group, 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, provided there is no additional charge for participation in the event.
  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 are not considered instructional and are ineligible and will not be permitted.
  11. Freshwater fishing regulations remain in effect.
  12. 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. Failure to do so may result in denial of future applications.

For more information:

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