Having a Free Fishing Weekend has been a tradition in Oregon for years, but these days the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offers several free fishing weekends on its annual calendar.
Free fishing means that anglers don’t need a license, tag or endorsement to go fishing, crabbing or clamming anywhere in Oregon on those designated days.
These are Oregon’s free fishing days in 2023:
- February 18 and 19: President’s Day Weekend
- June 3 and 4: Traditional Free Fishing Weekend/Oregon State Parks free camping
- November 24 and 25: Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving
You must still follow all the other rules, such as catch limits, local or seasonal closures, etc. So our best advice is to study statewide, zone, and specific water regulations before heading out.
The long-standing traditional Free Fishing Weekend is held the first Saturday and Sunday in June, which is when the Oregon State Parks traditionally waives fees at its many locations.
These days ODFW typically designates additional free fishing days at other times of the year. Best bets in recent years have been near President’s Day in February and just after Thanksgiving in November.
The Oregon State Legislature authorized the additional free fishing opportunities to help introduce more anglers to the sport.
Now let’s look at some of your best options for catching fish and shellfish during free fishing days in Oregon.
February Free Fishing
In February, steelhead fishing is going strong with winter runs on the Oregon Coast and in several rivers near Portland.
Trout fishing is just getting started, but expect many lakes and ponds in the Willamette Valley to be stocked with trout.
Ice fishing might be a safe option if the weather has been cold enough in the Cascade Range and Eastern Oregon.
Also see: Oregon’s Best Fishing in February.
June Free Fishing
This is prime time for many types of fishing in Oregon.
ODFW often stocks a boatload of hatchery-raised trout in waters across Oregon during the spring, including ahead of June’s free fishing weekend.
They also plan a substantial number of events at family-friendly fishing sites to help inexperienced anglers learn to fish, although those events can be canceled as needed.
In June, trout fishing is excellent across Oregon for both stocked and wild fish.
Bass fishing is also a strong draw during these months, and fishing for panfish such as crappie, bluegill and yellow perch is also quite good.
Summer steelhead, shad, sturgeon, spring Chinook salmon and shellfish also are worth looking into in mid-to-late spring. Kokanee fishing is excellent in deep mountain lakes.
Low tides at the coast could offer good razor clamming, especially on the northern Oregon Coast.
Also see: Oregon’s Best Fishing in June.
November Free Fishing
Many of the trout lakes and ponds come back alive in the fall, especially those that are re-stocked with hatchery trout in the Willamette Valley.
Some likely spots to get stocked around then include Walter Wirth Lake and Walling Pond (Salem), Waverly and Timber-Linn Lakes (Albany), and Junction City Pond. Check the link to the Weekly Recreation Report at the bottom of this page for current conditions.
A few reservoirs we’d suggest for good fall trout fishing include Lost Creek Lake in Southern Oregon, Cottage Grove Reservoir and Dorena Reservoir in the southern Willamette Valley, Foster Reservoir in the Central Willamette Valley and Henry Hagg Lake near Forest Grove, west of Portland.
Additionally, several reservoirs around the state are nicely stocked a little earlier in the fall and would still be very good options by Black Friday.
Fall salmon fishing is winding down by late November, but there’s still time to catch some of Oregon’s top game fish and perhaps an early winter steelhead.
Catch and release sturgeon fishing can be excellent on the Willamette River.
Late November also can be an excellent time to go to one of Oregon’s best crabbing bays, especially if there’s been a break in the rainfall.
Also see: Oregon’s Best Fishing in November.
Find Your Fishing Spot
To help you choose your fishing spots on free fishing days and all year long, check out our Oregon home page for links to the best fishing in every Oregon county for opportunities near you. Another good resource is our month-by-month Oregon Fishing Calendar.
Either of those sources will take you to additional pages chock full of fishing information tailored to your interests, location, and time of year.
Consult ODFW’s website for updates related to free fishing, often in the form of news releases and through the weekly recreation report. You can find up-to-date regulations online as well.
ODFW Weekly Fishing Report
ODFW Trout Stocking Schedule
Oregon Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service