Saturday, Sept. 25 is Free Fishing Day in California |

Saturday, Sept. 25 is Free Fishing Day in California

By Don Quilici

Hey gang, September 25 is Free Fishing Day in the State of California. Yep! There is going to be free fishing in the Golden State. So, be sure to mark that date on your calendar.

It is the second of two free fishing days that California offers each year. The first one was held back in June.

This one is always held in late September and is timed to coincide with the National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration held across the United States.

So, if you’ve had a desire to fish in California but haven’t done so, you can fish in the golden state on Sept. 25 and you don’t need to have a fishing license.

However, be advised that you will need to abide by all of the regular rules and regulations that govern whatever water you will be fishing.

So don’t do anything dumb or illegal.

For those folks who might be interested in free fishing on Sept. 25, the list of nearby fishable waters in California is almost endless because there is an enormous number of creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and reservoirs.

Here is a partial list of just some of those many, many waters:


East Carson, West Carson, Feather, Owens, Sacramento, Susan, Truckee, Little Truckee, Upper Truckee, East Walker, West Walker and Little Walker.


Bishop, Buckeye, Convict, Green, Markleeville, Red, Robinson, Rush, Silver, Virginia and Wolf.


Boca, Bridgeport, Frenchmen’s, Indian Creek, Kinney and Stampede.


Alpine, Upper and Lower Blue, Bucks, Caples, Convict, Crater, Crowley, Davis, Donner, Eagle, Frog, the June Lake Loop (Grant, Gull, June and Silver), Kirman (AKA Carmen), Lobdell, Lundy, Mammoth Lakes Basin (George, Mamie, Mary and Twin), North, Poore, Red, Roosevelt-Lane, Sabrina, Secret, Scott, Silver, South, Upper and Lower Sunset, Tahoe, Tamarack, Upper and Lower Twin, the Virginia Lakes area, Winnemucca and Woods.

However, I suggest you narrow your choice down to one or more of the following “Don Q’ suggestions:

• If you like high altitude fishing:

Kinney Reservoir (about 8,500′) near the top of Ebbett’s Pass on S.R. 4.

Good fishing for small car-top boats, canoes, inflated rafts or float tubes. The best area is the back side of the lake.

• If you like short hikes:

Lower Kinney Lake (A short one-half mile walk past Kinney Reservoir Dam).

Excellent fishing for Lahontan cutthroat trout for fly fishermen with float tubes or trollers in small, inflatable rafts.

• If you like river fishing:

East Carson River near Markleeville. It runs along S.R. 4 and S.R. 89.

Very low and clear at this time of the year.

Recently planted in the area of the Carson River Resort with good-sized rainbow trout.

The area from Hangman’s Bridge, just out of Markleeville, downstream to the Nevada stateline has special regs.

West Carson River along S.R. 88. It runs the length of Hope Valley and in Woodford’s Canyon.

Also very low and clear. Trout are spooky and catching them can be a challenge.

• If you like the Carson Pass area:

Red Lake, Caples Lake and Silver Lake, which are all along S.R. 88.

Shore fishing can be on the slow side.

Best fishing from small boats with silver flasher blades and nightcrawlers.

• If you like to drive on dusty, rocky, rough, dirt roads:

Crater Lake, about 2 miles from S.R. 88 via an unsigned, dirt road (the last section is very rough).

This small lake contains a large population of small Eastern brook trout.

• If you like to fish a cluster of lakes:

Upper and Lower Blue Lakes, Twin Lake, Meadow Lake, Tamarack Lake, Upper and Lower Sunset Lakes, Meadow Lake, Summit Lake and Lost Lakes.

All clustered in an area about 12 miles from Hope Valley. Take the Blue Lake Road from S.R. 88 in Hope Valley.

Best from shore with Power Bait or inflated nightcrawlers.

Best from boats with small, silver flasher blades and worms.

• If you like to hike at high atitude:

Frog and Winnemucca Lakes, which are walk-in lakes from the top of Kit Carson Pass on S.R. 88.

Frog Lake can be very good for shore fishing for rainbows.

Winnemucca Lake is excellent from float tubes or inflated rafts but very poor from shore. You will catch Eastern brook or Kamloop trout.

• If you like to troll from a boat:

Frenchman Reservoir and Davis Lake. Both are just north of Reno, near the town of Portola.

Good boat fishing for rainbows.

• If you are a fly fisherman who likes to fish with a float tube:

Heenan Lake on S.R. 89 between Markleeville and Topaz Lake.

A zero limit lake (Catch and Release only) with very large Eastern brook trout.

A favorite for fishermen in float tubes.

Has very special restrictions.

• If you like to fish very early in the mornings for Kokanee Salmon:

Boca and Stampede Reservoirs, which are located just off I-80, near Truckee.

Good boat fishing for Kokanee salmon, very, very early in the morning.

Special Note: Sept. 25 is NOT a free fishing day in Nevada.

The one and only Free Fishing Day in Nevada for 2001 was held back in June.

For current fishing information in some selected areas, call:

Bridgeport area: Ken’s Sporting Goods Store at (760) 932-7707.

Caples Lake: Caples Lake Resort at (209) 258-8888.

E. Carson River: Carson River Resort at (877) 694-2229.

W. Carson River: Woodford’s Station in Woodford’s at (530) 694-2930.

Convict Lake and Creek: The Convict Lake Resort at (800) 992-2260.

Davis Lake: The Grizzly Store at (530) 832-0270.

Eagle Lake: The Eagle Lake Marina at (530) 825-3454.

Frenchman Reservoir and Davis Lake: Wiggin’s Trading Post at Chilcoot at (530) 993-4683.

June Lake Loop: Ernie’s Tackle Store at (760) 648-7756.

Mammoth Lakes area: Kittridge Sporting Goods Store at (760) 934-7566.

Sacramento River, Feather River and Shasta Lake: Outdoor Adventures Sport Fishing in Redding at (800) 670-4448.

Lower Twin Lake and Robinson Creek: Twin Lakes Resort at (760) 932-7751.

Upper Twin Lake: Annett’s Mono Village at (760) 932-7071.

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t name Don Q’s all-time, favorite fishing location in the State of California.

If he grins and says, “It’s Winnemucca Lake in Alpine County,” he wins the bet.