Curious enough to want to try your hand at fishing? Not sure if you will enjoy it? 

Well, today is the perfect day to find out.

Today is the first of two free fishing days offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The two designated free fishing days to allow anyone interested the opportunity to fish without purchasing a fishing license. 

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website, the free fishing day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish, and fishing tackle. 

“You can even learn how to clean and prepare your catch so you can enjoy it for dinner that night,” according to the website.

While anglers do not need a license, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures still remain in effect.

Mike Searcy, manager at Johnson's Bait and Tackle on Garden Highway, said he loves that the free fishing days are offered twice a year and wishes there were more.

“Anytime you can get more people out and interested in fishing is great,” said Searcy. “It gets people off their phones and out in nature.” 

Where to start?

Afew local experts offered beginner tips and tricks. 

“My advice to someone interested in fishing would be to go to a local sporting goods store,” said Chuck Wyllie, Sutter County Fish and Game Commission Chairman. “The people who work here have a passion for what they do and the majority are avid fishermen themselves and can get a person headed in the right direction.”

Searcy said the first thing a new fisherman needs to get – and arguably the most important – is a good rod and reel. 

Dale Whitmore, former wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, recommends that beginners should start with a closed-faced rod/reel which is available at bait shops for $30-40 dollars. 

“These are usually easier to operate for a new person,” said Whitmore. 

According to Searcy, the size of the rod depends on where and what you are going to fish for.

“If you are fishing for trout you can use a fairly small rig,” said Searcy. “If you are fishing in a river you will need a medium size rig.” 

Searcy also recommended picking up a fishing regulation guide book before heading out to know exactly what kind of fish can be caught in each area as well as the limits and restriction. 

For first time fishermen, Searcy recommends fishing at a location that does not have moving water. 

“The moving water makes fishing much more difficult and requires a lot more skill,” said Searcy.

Locally, there are a few lakes that are ideal for beginner fisherman including Collins Lake and Ellis Lake, said Searcy. 

According to Searcy, there are a lot of different types of fish in Ellis Lake including catfish, carp, bluegill, crappie and bass. 

To entice the fish to bite, getting a basic tackle package that includes hooks, sinkers, swivels, night crawlers and bobbers was recommended by all the expert. 

Whitmore said two commonly caught fish in the area are catfish and big mouth bass, which can both be found at Ellis Lake. 

“When trying to catch a catfish, put a worm on the hook and toss it into the water,” said Whitmore. “Let it settle and sit there and hopefully that catfish will be fishing around looking for some food.” 

Whitmore also recommends the cast and retrieve approach to catch big mouth bass. 

Searcy said new anglers shouldn't get discouraged. 

“Don't go into it thinking you'er going to catch the biggest fish,” said Searcy. “Go for the experience. Enjoy being out there on the water and if you catch a big fish consider it a perk.” 

The next free fishing day is scheduled for August 31.

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