The first free fishing weekend of 2024 is February 17-18
The first free fishing weekend of the year is President’s Day Weekend.
On Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18, fishing is free in Oregon.
Fishing, crab and clam fishing is free to all residents and non-residents, meaning no fishing licenses or tags are required, including the Joint Fishing Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement.
You still have to follow the rest of the hunting regulations though.
This is a good starting point for those who are not familiar with Oregon fishing.
To prepare for the weekend, there is good news for area anglers. Hag Lake, the most popular fishing area in Western Washington County, will be stocked with 1,000 trophy-sized trout — that is, trout at least 15 inches long — sometime in the week before President’s Day. This will be the first batch of fish that the lake, which was created in 1975 through the construction of Scoggins Dam, will receive this year. And many more will follow.
“Bred to fight,” is how the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W) described the rainbow trout that grew to trophy size in a 2017 news release. The program began after the 2015 legislative session when lawmakers worked with the department to launch a pilot program to stock large fish. In five lakes across the state. Since then, smaller lakes such as Haag Lake have been added to the program.
While the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has not revealed the actual day it plans to stock the water bodies, the state agency said Haag Lake will be stocked sometime between February 12 and 16.
You can see all bodies of water across the state scheduled for stocking online.
Following a free fishing weekend, Haag Lake will be stocked again, this time with 12,000 legal-size salmon between February 26 and March 1.
Oregon fishing regulations limit this to eight inches for most bodies of water.
Other bodies of water stocked in the common area include Dorman Pond on Gales Creek, which is located west of Gales Creek Road and the Interstate 6 intersection, and Vernonia Pond, located in the city of Vernonia. Both will be stocked first in March; Dorman Pond from March 11-15 with 1,000 legal size trout, and Vernonia with 2,500 legal size trout from March 18-22.
There will be two additional free fishing holidays in 2024; June 1-2 and November 29-30 will conclude the year.
Chas Hundley is editor of the Banks Post and sister publications Gales Creek Magazine and Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.