JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If you don't have a fishing license, this weekend and next are reel good opportunities to get out and throw a line.
Although you won't need the paperwork, there are other laws you have to abide by.
"The biggest fish I ever caught was a red bass, and that was in Nassau," said Gary White, who's been fishing since age 15. "That was the biggest I ever caught, and I was happy all the rest of the day. And in fact, it was the only fish I ever caught, but I was still happy all day because it was the biggest I ever caught in my life."
White and his friends think the whole state of Florida should take advantage of the opportunity.
"You learn a lot of patience and you meet a lot of great people," he said. "I call them great people because you get along with them and you don't even know them."
White said it's especially great for kids, who, if younger than 16, don't need a license anyway.
"It makes you want to come back," White said of getting a fish to bite. "It's a thrill, especially when you pull him in. If he don't get away, that's a real thrill there."
Before you cast a line, there is a catch.
This weekend you can fish without a saltwater recreational fishing license, and on June 14 and 15, you can fish without a freshwater recreational fishing license.
The rules that don't change: all bag limits, seasons and size restrictions.
"All you need is the right equipment and to be able to have that knowledge that we have, again, on our website," said Amanda Nalley, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Take that with you. You can print out charts and have all of the information you need to know."
Another suggestion from FWC is if you feel intimidated or don't know enough to try, "oftentimes the folks at the tackle shop are really helpful," Nalley said. "They can give you the right knowledge, the right equipment to make sure you have a successful day."
If you do take advantage of the opportunity and get hooked on fishing and want a license, go to MyFWC.com/License and click "Do I Need One?" and "Free Fishing Days."
And mark your calendars for Sept. 6 and Nov. 29, which have also been designated license-free saltwater fishing days. And April 4 and 5 have been designated as a license-free freshwater fishing weekend.
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