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Q & A
Fish for Free Days – Dates Chosen
Question
I think Fish for Free Days are an awesome opportunity to fish with family and friends. I would like to pass along "KUDOS" to whoever came up with the idea. I would like to make a suggestion of having one or both days on either Mother's Day (moms might not like that) or Father's Day.
Answer
Pennsylvania has been offering Fish for Free Days since 1984 (September 22*), making us one of the first states in the nation to set aside specific dates where the usual fishing license requirements are waived. Under the Fish and Boat Code (the set of laws the establishes the Commission's authority) we may designate up to two days as Fish For Free Days. Over the years, we have scheduled Fish For Free Days at various times. For many years, we offered Fish For Free Days as the back-to-back Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend. We generally scheduled that weekend in early June as part of National Fishing & Boating Week.

The downside of offering both days consecutively was that if there is a spate of rain or cold, the bad weather will ruin both opportunities. In 1996, the Commission decided to move one of the Fish For Free Days from the spring to the fall. We selected the fourth Saturday in September - National Hunting & Fishing Day - as our choice. The other day remained in early June as part of National Fishing & Boating Week.

In 2003 the scheduling was changed again. Both Mother's Day and Father's Day were considered, as you suggested, as well as the Fourth of July. After a great deal of discussion, we decided to go with the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend instead. Fishing is a family oriented activity. Because Memorial Day is both a traditional time for families to gather and the unofficial "start" of summertime activities, it seems a natural opportunity to promote angling with a Fish For Free Day. In keeping with our longstanding practice, we've also kept a Fish For Free Day in early June.

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* In 1984 the 1st Fish-for-Free Day was originally scheduled for June 2, but had to be rescheduled as the necessary legislative action was not completed in time.
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