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Free fishing day, record heat draw the angling-curious to California waterways

Free fishing day draws the angling-curious to state waterways
Free fishing day draws the angling-curious to state waterways 02:13

SAN FRANCISCO -- Saturday was the first of the two free fishing days of 2024 in California -- a great time to get out to the water to see if you could make the perfect cast.

"Fishing remains hugely popular in California. We have such diverse populations. We have the ocean, lakes and rivers," said Peter Tira, spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We want to get people outside. We want people to be out in nature."

Tira says these are the two days out of the year where you don't need a license to fish in the state.

"We have folks who fish one or two days a year and these are the two days they do it. And we have others who get hooked," he said.

Whether to fish or not, plenty of folks will be heading to the water at some point this weekend to beat the heat.

"Know before you go," said Capt. Jonathan Baxter with the San Francisco Fire Department. "Let's make sure that we have fun and go home with memorable memories of your time here in San Francisco at our beautiful coastline, coastal areas and parks."

He said people should take water safety seriously while they enjoy time along the coast.

"For San Francisco, we have extremely strong rip currents, sneaker waves and fairly cold water at all of our coastal access areas. That means, if you come to San Francisco, you may need to bring a wetsuit even if it's 100 degrees where you're living right now," he said. "In San Francisco, just one foot of water -- ankle deep water -- the rip currents are strong enough to pull a grown adult into the surf line."

SFFD personnel have responded to several incidents along the coast over the past week.

"If you're not an experienced swimmer, we recommend that you go to a lifeguard-protected beach, such as Stinson Beach in Marin County or the beaches in Santa Cruz County," Baxter said. "Don't go onto the rocks in our coastal areas as our currents and tides come in quickly. The waves can change and you can get stuck and require rescuing. We don't want to meet you that way."

If you do run into trouble, Baxter says call 9-1-1 quickly, don't wait.

"When we are talking about our coastal areas, seconds -- not minutes -- matter," he said.

If you're on the water, Baxter says to make sure you have a life jacket or proper safety gear for the activity you're involved in.

"A slow- or non-busy day for a public safety team is the best day ever. That means we are a safe community but it doesn't always end up that way," he said.

The next free fishing day is set for Aug. 31.

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