Environment & Science

Free Fishing Day is here, but restrictions still apply

Fishing Poles on Dania Beach Pier
Fishing Poles on Dania Beach Pier
Matt Easterly/Flickr Creative Commons

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California Fish and Game officials suspend requirements for fishermen to have licenses on two days a year. Saturday is 2012’s first Free Fishing Day.

The standard resident fishing license costs $44.85, so the idea of Free Fishing Day is to make it easier for people to dip a toe in the weekend hobby of angling. But all the other fishing rules — about what kind of bait and gear to use, where you can go — still apply.

"On these two days a year the department is pleased to offer free fishing to those people," Cal Fish and Game spokesman AndrewHughan said, but "people need to check the fishing regulations carefully before they just pick up a pole and throw it in the water."

Hughan says if you’re new to the sport and in doubt: Coastal spots can be crowded. Try leaning over and ask your neighbor.

"Fishermen are good people for the most part," Hughan said, "and they’ll be glad to give you a hand baiting your fish or hauling in your fish if you don’t have a net or anything like that."

If you’re chasing spiny lobster, red abalone, sturgeon or steelhead, or if you’re fishing for salmon in the far north part of the state, you need to purchase a report card for less than $8 to help the state with the cost of tracking those species. Your next chance to fish for free is in early September.