Five-year-old Taiki shows off his catch alongside his mother, Kyoko Moriwaki and John Liechty, owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service, during a day of fishing on New Melones Lake. 

This Fourth of July weekend is the perfect time to take up fishing, in more ways than one.

Saturday, July 6 is a free fishing day in the state of California, when newbies can try out the sport without purchasing a license.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), there are only two free fishing days per year. The second will be coming soon on Aug. 31.

Other than the free pass on a sport fishing license, all other regulations are still in effect including bag and size limits, fishing hours, stream closures and report card requirements.

Eager anglers can visit the CDFW website,, for more information on rules and restrictions.

In Calaveras County, the Fourth of July weekend will likely yield a significant catch for the many locals and travelers flocking to partake in summer fun.

“Everything is pretty full,” said Sharon Reynolds, co-owner of Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods in Arnold with her husband, Bill.

The Reynolds recommend White Pines Lake, Lake Alpine, Union and Spicer Reservoirs, as well as New Melones Lake for promising local spots.

For those more inclined to swim than fish, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office issued the following safety reminders for the weekend and the remainder of the summer:

• Keep an eye on children when near or in the water and stay within arm’s reach.

• Always swim with a second person. Even experienced swimmers can tire or get muscle cramps.

• Put barriers around all pools and hot tubs regardless of their size.

• Obey warning signs regarding unexpected changes in river flow.

• Don’t rely on inflatable devices to keep you afloat.

• Lakes can have extreme drop-offs hidden by murky water.

• Wear a life jacket while boating. Make sure it is U.S. Coast Guard approved and fits snugly and comfortably.

• When boating, children 12 years and younger must wear a life jacket while the boat is moving.

• Avoid combining alcohol with aquatic activity. Alcohol impairs judgement and distorts your perception of risk and your own abilities.

If someone is in the water is in trouble

• Don’t panic: Yell for Help. Call 911.

• Reach or throw a flotation aid to the distressed swimmer.

If someone in the water is unresponsive

• Get the person out of the water immediately

• Call 911

• If trained, begin CPR. If you are not trained in CPR, follow the instructions from the 911 Dispatcher until emergency medical personnel arrive.


Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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