Snag a whopper licensed or not |

Snag a whopper licensed or not

Twice a year the California Department of Fish and Game offers would-be anglers to cast a line without purchasing a fishing license. The intent is to introduce non-anglers to the joys of fishing and create a new angler who will purchase a fishing license in the future.

The Department of Fish and Game coordinates California’s two annual fishing days with the National Free Fishing Day occasions held every June and September. The second free fishing is going to be held on Saturday, Sept. 24. The department encourages those who do not normally fish to take advantage of the free fishing day and hopes that experienced anglers will introduce some of their non-fishing friends on a fishing trip for the day.

Fishing is a huge sport in this country. There are an estimated 44 million recreational anglers in the United States, according to a Department of Fish and Game press release. These numbers are based upon United States Fish and Wildlife Service surveys. California is among the top three states with the highest number of recreational anglers. Texas and Florida are the other two. A 2001 survey showed that the state had 2.4 million people who spent an average of 11 days per year with a fishing rod in their hands.

The emphasis this year appears to be in the department’s City Program. There are programs in the Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and the Sacramento area. Special fish plants are funded by a federal excise tax on the sale of fishing tackle and motor boat fuel through the Sport Fish Restoration Act. All the plants involve catfish at one to two pounds. Location of the lakes and ponds can be found at

While most of the programs appear to be concentrated on urban lakes and ponds, there are still opportunities for local anglers. The department has completed their season of putting in catchable rainbow trout into our local waters, but there are still fish available for anglers to catch. There just will not be as many fish as there typically are due to the state budgetary issue and the cutbacks to the department’s hatchery program.

Local lakes such as Boca, Donner, Prosser and Stampede are the primary areas that are stocked regularly during the season by the Department of Fish and Game. Therefore, these lakes offer the best opportunity for locals and visitors to try their hand on Sept. 24.

With the exception of the two free fishing opportunities, anglers must possess a valid 2004 sport fishing license, priced this year for California residents at $32.80. Short-term licenses are also available for residents and non-residents as reduced rates.

I would strongly encourage experienced anglers to take a friend who would like to learn to fish on an outing for the day. Pardon the pun, but you may hook them for life! Fishing is a great experience that can be enjoyed with others or done in relative solitude. Either way, I can attest that it is a sport that will grow on you!

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