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Free Fishing Day Saturday, Sept. 3

Compiled by Mari Erin Roth

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Lake Almanor

There has been little change on Almanor this week. Sunny skies prevail with daytime highs reaching into the high 80’s and low 90’s for at least the next 10 days. Water level continues to drop, and navigational hazards are popping up throughout the lake. “If you are a novice to Almanor,” said John Crotty of Almanor Fishing Association, “Flag Island, Dakasu Island and the tip of the peninsula should all be on your radar, especially when winds are present.”

As is typical for this time of year fishing can be tough. There is generally an early morning bite before the fish get “lock jaw,” said Crotty. “I have been slow trolling plastics and crawlers early, switching over to hardware when that bite dies. Some days there is no bite!” Bank fishermen are picking up quality fish at Hamilton Branch. Trollers are targeting fish in deepwater, Rec #2, Rec #1, Big Springs, Dorado, and the East Shore are all good places to start the fishing day.

While it has been a grind, the grade of fish has been decent. The lake is full of Pond Smelt and all species of fish and birds are feasting on the tasty delicacy. The high protein diet provided by the Almanor ecosystem plays a significant role in the growth rate of these fish. “In 2021, AFA tagged 1,000 of our pen fish, 950 of the West Virginia Rainbows and 50 of the Feather River Browns,” said Crotty.

“The fish are typically ten to the pound when we receive them and two or three to the pound and eight to twelve inches when we release them in April.” An angler reported catching one of the fish that were tagged in 2021, the rainbow was caught at Rec 2, it was a little over twenty inches in length and over four pounds. “The anglers didn’t notice the tag until they were cleaning the fish, please check (the dorsal fin, left side) and report any tagged fish you might catch (707) 362-1899 or by email @[email protected]),” said Crotty. “We are interested in where the fish was caught, what is the color of the tag, length/weight, what condition the fish was in.” AFA had all but given up on the tagging as they were not getting any reports of tagged fish, it is exciting to see that the AFA pen fish are thriving and growing at a rapid pace.

“Labor Day is the last big weekend for boaters on Almanor, water temps will drop soon, and boat traffic will ease,” said Crotty. “Fall can be spectacular fishing and the weather should hold until the middle of November, it’s not too late to plan that fall fishing trip.”


Free Fishing Clinics from CDFW

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is encouraging all Californians to get outdoors and give fishing a try for free on California’s second Free Fishing Day, Saturday, Sept. 3.

For this second, and last, Free Fishing Day of 2022, CDFW’s Fishing in the City program is offering the opportunity to learn fishing techniques and skills from department experts at in-person beginner fishing clinics in the Sacramento and Eastern Sierra areas.

In-person events will be held at Hagan Community Park in Rancho Cordova and all ages are welcome. You can register for these events on CDFW’s Fishing in the City – Sacramento Metro Area webpage.

The Eastern Sierra events will happen at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. You can find more information at CDFW’s Fishing in the City – Eastern Sierra webpage.

Anglers residing in areas outside of where in-person events are happening, are welcome to cast a line in their choice of water body. Please check the rules and regulations for the waters you plan to fish, and read up on recommendations for fishing during a drought. You’re also invited to participate in virtual offerings from Fishing in the City, a program that allows Californians to learn to fish in metropolitan areas. General information about the Fishing in the City program can be found on the CDFW website.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements and fishing hours and stream closures, remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or for salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Those interested in fishing in California’s lakes, streams and rivers can find information about inland fishing locations and species on the CDFW website. Information about ocean fishing, including spots along California beaches, is also available on the website. A list of free fishing piers and a zoomable map of pier locations is also available to help you plan a pier fishing adventure. It is free to fish piers, jetties or breakwaters along the coast year-round in California, but Free Fishing Days are a great time to be introduced to fishing for perch, greenling, rockfish and bass.

Other helpful resources for anglers include the fish planting schedule and fishing guide.

The Saturday of Labor Day weekend is typically reserved as California’s second Free Fishing Day of the year, with the Saturday of Fourth of July weekend being the first (July 2 in 2022).Children 16 and younger can fish for free every day of the year in California, but Free Fishing Day offers a time when families and friends can experience the hobby together because those 17 and older can fish without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days also provide an easy opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends to fishing and the outdoors.


Don’t miss out on the final day of 2022 for free fishing! This is a great opportunity to use that beginner’s luck and enjoy one of California’s most popular pastimes. If you get “hooked” on fishing, be sure to purchase an annual resident sport fishing license. The revenue generated from license sales helps conserve our fish populations and habitats while supporting California’s longstanding angling opportunities for today and future generations.


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