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Fish for free next Saturday


If you want to go fishing in California, you must buy a fishing license, except if you go fishing next Saturday, Sept. 2, which has been declared a “free fishing day” by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

All other fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect.

On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead, sturgeon or salmon (in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River systems.

For local residents who want to try fishing, the closest place is the Napa River along Cuttings Wharf Road. There are lots of striped bass and even some sturgeon biting in the river. For tackle and bait assistance, check with Sweeney’ Sports in Napa.

The closest public lakes include Lake Ralphine and Spring Lake both located in Santa Rosa just east of Montgomery Village. Those lakes have resident largemouth bass and bluegill. Further west, Lake Sonoma offers fishing for bass, sunfish and trout. Lake fishing this time of year is slow.

If you just want to catch a lot of fish to bring home and eat, call Capt. Rick Powers at Bodega Bay Sportsfishing, 875-3344, and pay the $95 he charges to take you out for a full day of action catching rock fish, lingcod and even some king salmon. He provides all of the gear and bait.

Rick had a sensational day Tuesday, when, with 16 clients on board, they hooked 60 large salmon, landed 32, up to 28 pounds, with the average at about 15 pounds. That is a world-class fishing. His clients also caught lots of rock fish and ling cod to round out their phenomenal day

San Francisco Bay is another great place to fish for a day. The fall is excellent for striped bass, halibut and even some salmon. Keith Fraser, who has run the Loch Lomond Bait shop in San Rafael for as long as I have been writing this column, is the recognized Bay expert for where to fish and what to use.

He said the fishing this week has been fantastic for striped bass, especially near Red Rock, where anglers using live bait are bringing home limits. Halibut action is also hot, but you catch lots of undersized fish to get your limit of keepers. There are also salmon biting at Cal City, off Tiburon.

If you don’t have a boat, Keith also books party boats including the “Bite Me,” a popular six-pack boat captained by Brent Slade. Brent took his clients out of the Golden Gate this week where they caught limits of king salmon, then came back in and caught limits of stripers off Red Rock.

There are so many bass in the Bay that Keith says you can catch them from the dock in his marina.

Call Keith at 415-456-0321 to set up a trip for yourself and some friends on the Bite Me. You’ll have a ball.

Trout fishers, particularly those who like to fool fish with feathers, have to drive a ways to find good action, and many of the state’s best streams are still in their August doldrums. I talked to Bob Grace at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir this week who said that fishing on the upper Sacramento River has been slow. The McCloud River has been crowded and fishing fair. Other reports from that area include the Fall River and Hat Creek, both of which are fishing fair to good, but expect crowds on the weekends.