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Free Fishing Weekend coming up; ODFW urges COVID-19 safety precautions

Masked fisherman ODFW
ODFW urging Free Fishing Weekend participants to follow COVID-19 safety precautions

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Everyone can fish for free in Oregon next Saturday and Sunday, but all are urged to follow COVID-19 safety precautions, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday.

No fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required to fish, crab or clam in Oregon that weekend.

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to find out more and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at

While nonresidents can also fish for free Aug. 15-16, there are still special restrictions in place on the coast due to Covid-19.

Currently, clamming and mussel harvesting is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary).

A few other clamming and crabbing closures are in effect (including razor clamming on Clatsop beaches), see the Recreation Report page for details. Also remember to always call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474​ or check ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page before you head out. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.

New to fishing and wondering where to go? Check the Recreation Report, which is updated on Thursday each week, for the best opportunities for the weekend.

This time of year, the best bets are typically warm water fishing and high lakes trout fishing. On the coast, try surfperch fishing from beaches or jetties. Crabbing or clamming can be a great activity for families; find detailed maps on where to go on Crabbing and Clamming pages.

Please remember to follow ongoing precautions in place due to the virus:

  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including while on a boat or at a fish cleaning station.
  • Wear a mask. Recreation areas can get more crowded on the weekends and during Free Fishing Weekend. Wear a mask outdoors when you can’t maintain six feet of distance from someone who doesn’t live in your household.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.   
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc.
  • Avoid crowds. Go someplace else if your destination looks crowded. 
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you.
  • Check for access before you go. Many spots have reopened to public access but some may still be closed, now due to wildfire season as well as Covid-19. ODFW does not control access to land or facilities (such as boat ramps) that it doesn’t manage, so check with the land manager or facility owner where you want to go about what’s open before you leave home.

“Getting outdoors to fish can be a safe and healthy activity right now, and a good respite during this difficult time,” said Curt Melcher, ODFW director. “We do ask all who participate to please follow all virus precautions so everyone has a safe time this Free Fishing Weekend.”

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