Sept. 22 is the second Free Fishing Day in California |

Sept. 22 is the second Free Fishing Day in California

Don Quilici

If you missed Free Fishing Day, way back on June 9, the State of California is offering you a second chance. Sept. 22 is going to be California’s second Free Fishing Day.

So, if you would like to fish in the Golden State and don’t have a license, you can, legally, on Sept. 22.

However, as usual, you need to remember 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 illegal (AKA dumb).

Here are some “Don Q” suggestions on where you might go:

A Cluster of lakes:

Upper and Lower Blue, Twin, Meadow, Tamarack, Upper and Lower Sunset, Meadow, Summit and Lost Lakes are all clustered in an area roughly about 12-15 miles from S.R. 88 in Hope Valley. Take your pick. All of them are usually good from shore with Power Bait, inflated nightcrawlers, small spinners or artificial flies.

Upper and Lower Blue Lakes are probably going to be your best bets due to the low water conditions of all of those lakes. If I were going here, my pick would be Lower Blue.

River fishing:

East Carson River is near Markleeville and runs along S.R. 4 and S.R. 89. Be advised, the area from Hangman’s Bridge, just out of Markleeville, all the way downstream to the Nevada stateline has special rules and restrictions.

West Carson River is near Woodfords and runs along S.R. 88, the length of scenic Hope Valley and down through Woodfords Canyon.

These two rivers are usually planted from bridges, so if you are super sneaky, just fish downstream from a bridge. Try the pools on the East Carson with red Salmon eggs.


Crater Lake is about 2 miles west of S.R. 88 via an unsigned, dusty, rocky, rough road between the Blues Lakes Turnoff and Red Lake.

This small lake contains “zillions” of small brook trout, but a nine-incher is considered a giant.

If you plan to drive all the way to the lake, you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle. Fish from the big rock on the north shore for best results.

High altitude driving:

Kinney Reservoir (about 8,000′) is near the top of Ebbett’s Pass.

Good rainbow fishing from shore or from small car-top boats, canoes, inflated rafts or float tubes.

This reservoir is reached by a narrow, winding and steep S.R. 4.

If you are afraid of heights, don’t take this highway!

High aLtitude HIKING:

Two walk-in lakes which are reached by hiking from the top of Kit Carson Pass on S.R. 88.

Frog Lake is small but can be good from shore for rainbows where the trees come down to the lake on the far side.

Winnemucca Lake is much larger and can be good from float tubes or inflated rafts (behind the islands). It is normally very poor from shore. You’ll catch Eastern brook and Kamloop trout. Be advised this lake is prone to being windy in the afternoons.

KIT Carson Pass:

Red, Caples and Silver Lakes all three lie along S.R. 88 in the Kit Carson Pass-Kirkwood area.

Your best bet is to troll all three lakes from small boats with silver flasher blades and either nightcrawlers or small lures.

Shore fishing can be on the slow side at this time of the year.

If you fly fish, try Red Lake from a float tube with small flies.


Frenchman Reservoir is north of Reno, near Chilcoot, via S.R. 70. Good shore and boat fishing for nice-sized rainbows near the dam.

Short hikes:

Lower Kinney Lake is a uphill, one-half mile hike on a dirt road from the Kinney Reservoir Dam.

Upper Kinney Lake is a short and steep hike from Lower Kinney.

Good fishing at both for Lahontan cutthroat trout, especially for fly fishermen with float tubes or spincasters in small, inflatable rafts.

Both lakes get windy in the late mornings-early afternoons.


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

Good boat fishing for Kokanee salmon, very early in the morning. You’ll have to get up at “Oh Dark Thirty,” and be fishing before the sun peeks over the horizon. You’ll need a boat with downriggers.


Heenan Lake is on S.R. 89 (The Monitor Pass Highway between Markleeville and Topaz Lake).

A “Catch and Release” lake with large Lahontan Cutthroat trout and with special rules and restrictions.

A popular destination for lots of fly fishermen in float tubes.

Special Note:

Sept. 22 is NOT a free fishing day in Nevada, which had its only Free Fishing Day way back in June.


There you have it: All kinds of different suggestions for California’s second Free Fishing Day.

This is your last chance at free fishing in 2007, so be sure to take advantage of it!

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

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

If he grins and says, “It is trolling in his little inflatable raft at Winnemucca Lake,” he wins this bet.

• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.