Originally Published: June 10, 2005 5 a.m.
PRESCOTT ‹ Arizona Game & Fish Department officials are thrilled about this summer's fishing season, watching gleefully as many of the state's urban and rural public lakes rose back to their normal water levels.
This past winter's series of soaking rains slightly alleviated Arizona's prolonged drought, which wildlife specialists agree will improve fishing.
On Saturday only, Arizona Game & Fish will host seven fishing clinics across the state at no cost to its participants in celebration of Free Fishing Day.
Prescott's Lynx Lake (7 a.m. to noon), Cottonwood's Dead Horse Ranch State Park (8 a.m. to noon) and Garrett Tank outside Seligman (1-6 p.m.) represent three of those seven sites.
"The department's pushing fishing, and this is the year," Arizona Game & Fish ranger Don Buckley said. "All of the lakes are full and all of the creeks are running, whereas in the last eight or nine years they weren't. They were dried up or the water condition was so bad that they couldn't continue to stock fishing holes."
At the clinics people can just show up and borrow rods and reels, as well as receive free bait and fishing lessons from uniformed Game & Fish employees.
"I'll have 40 loaner rods and reels for people who have never fished before, don't have a tackle and want to try it," Buckley said. "We can instruct them a little bit on casting and baiting the hook, and get them started."
Free Fishing Day offers Arizonans the chance to fish at their favorite fishing holes without having to pay for a license. There's no size limit on the fish that people catch in Lynx Lake, but there's a bag and possession limit of six trout per day.
"You can't have any more than six trout at the lake, in your car or at home," Buckley said. "You have to eat them or you can give them away, and then you can go back and fish (the following day)."
This special day is held in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week (June 4-12) in which more than 700 on-the-water activities, such as festivals and regattas, take place across the U.S.
Event organizers stress that it's the perfect time for either parents or grandparents to share the joys of fishing with children, promoting it as an exciting outdoor sport and leisurely activity.
Buckley said his department is feeling much better about the condition of lakes statewide after the precipitation that fell over the winter, particularly in northern Arizona.
With lakes' levels back on the rise, the demand for fishing licenses will increase.
A general fishing license costs $18 and is valid for one year. To purchase a license, visit either any Arizona Game & Fish Department office or Wal-Mart or select sporting goods stores.
General licenses are also available online at www.azgfd.gov or by calling toll-free at 866-462-0433. Family licenses, which make fishing more affordable for big groups, can be bought only at Game & Fish offices and over the Internet.
For driving directions to each of the free fishing clinics and more information on Free Fishing Day, log on to the Arizona Game & Fish Web site at www.azgfd.gov/fish. Click on the link for "Free Fishing Day Information."
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