Gov. Janet Mills has signed an executive order to create a free fishing license week, which will be observed from Feb. 13 until Feb. 21, 2021. Credit: Daryn Slover / Sun Journal via AP

In the latest effort to increase participation in safe outdoor activities during the pandemic, Gov. Janet Mills has signed an executive order that will allow people to sign up for a free fishing license that they can use from Feb. 13 through Feb. 21.

Registration for the free license can be completed online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website.

“Exploring the great outdoors in Maine is a healthy and safe way to spend time during the pandemic,” Mills said.“As an avid angler myself, it is my hope that this week of free fishing will encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors.”

This is the second time the state has extended additional free fishing in Maine since the pandemic began. Last year, the state opened waterways to fishing on March 20 rather than on April 1, and waived the license requirement until April 30, 2020, in order to give Mainers recreational options during a difficult time.

The new free fishing week coincides with the February school vacation week, and will give families another way to spend time together at little cost.

“No matter your age, spending time outside can boost your physical, mental and emotional health, which is more important now during the pandemic than ever before,” DIF&W commissioner Judy Camuso said. “Ice fishing is an excellent opportunity to get outside safely this winter and I encourage everyone to take advantage of free fishing license week to do so.”

The Governor’s Executive Order extends a traditional family fishing weekend, which allowed people to fish without a license for two days in February. The legislature created these family fishing weekends years ago, recognizing the importance of getting people outside and introducing them to a lifetime activity of fishing.

According to the DIF&W, more than 345,000 were licensed to fish in Maine in 2020. Those anglers contributed an estimated $370 million to Maine’s economy.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...