Free fishing day welcomes new anglers to the sport

Sunbeam Lake is one of the traditional fishing locations in the Imperial county.

IMPERIAL COUNTY — To introduce more recreationalists to the sport of fishing, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife allows two free fishing days during the year, giving those interested an opportunity to learn how to fish in the Valley. July 1 was one of those days.

Much fishing in the Valley is done out of canals, as well as a few lakes. The Central Main canal is one of these well-known fishing locations, running nearby to many of the cities. A few other locations locals cite as good for new fishermen is the All-American Canal, the Highline Canal, and Sunbeam Lake.

Despite the fact that a license to fish for the day wasn’t required, anglers needed to be aware that the other regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, and report card requirements were still in effect for the free fishing day.

“By having a free fishing day, it allows people who are not knowledgable about fishing the chance of finding out if it is a hobby they would like to get into,” said new angler Matthew Sanchez.

When fishing in Imperial Valley, many said the most common bait used is night-crawlers or meal worms. However, more experienced fishermen would argue that live bait is the way to go. Since a lot of anglers fish into the late hours of the night to catch the big catfish, a common bait used is live blue gill fish. Even though this bait can be bought at local stores, more experienced fisherman like to take their chances at Sunbeam Lake, where blue gill can be found and caught off small hooks and small amounts of bait.

“To catch the big ones, I like to use blue gill as live bait and it is usually simple to catch them close to the banks around Sunbeam,” said Jeff Wilson, a long time Imperial Valley fisherman.

Other than fishing for cat fish or blue gill, local fishermen claim excitement comes from the fight of the different species of bass in the Valley. Bass can be found closer to the surface of the water and are attracted by reflections and movement in the water. Therefore, most experienced anglers use lures to attract the bass because of the vibrant colors and effective movement in the water.

Different species of bass found in the Imperial Valley are striped bass, large mouth bass, and small mouth bass. These fish are usually most active during the hottest parts of the day, but locals noted these fish also like to bite during sunrise and sunset.

To give those who missed out another chance, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will host another free fishing day September 2.