Families in Oregon will get the chance to introduce their kids to fishing for free this year.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the dates of the free fishing days, the first two being April 22 and 23, when anglers can fish, crab and clam for free anywhere in Oregon without a license, tag or endorsement.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get outside in the springtime,” said Evan Leonetti, Salmon Trout Enhancement biologist for ODFW’s Umpqua District.

The first free fishing weekend ties in with Earth Day, April 22.

“The main draw of tying it in with Earth Day is getting folks to appreciate the outdoors,” Leonetti said. “There’s quite a few opportunities for folks to give fishing a try, for free.”

In 2015, the Oregon Legislature asked ODFW to add six more free fishing days, so this year there will be eight days. The other weekends are June 3 and 4, and holiday weekends Nov. 25 and 26 and Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.

ODFW has also scheduled 28 free family fishing events throughout the state this spring and summer. The agency stocks locations with trout and provides loaner rods, reels, tackle and bait, and tips from angling instructors during each event.

“If you’re into fishing, you really want to promote the great sport of fishing and especially introduce it to the younger generation coming along and try to build some enthusiasm in the youth to be future fishers,” said Pete Zech, a member of the Umpqua Valley Fly Fishers.

He said the club plans to have a booth during the family fishing event at Cooper Creek in Sutherlin on June 3 and 4.

“Kids come by and we help them tie a fly, and they get to try to cast a fly rod and get introduced to somewhat of a unique sport,” Zech said. “It gives them an introduction into something they might want to get interested in and pursue for the rest of their lives.”

He said ODFW does a great job of keeping Cooper Creek and other Douglas County fishing spots stocked with fish so young anglers have plenty of opportunity to catch fish.

“It’s pretty pleasant being out on some of those reservoirs,” Zech said. “At Cooper Creek when you’re on the water there, it’s kind of like you’re out in the woods, it’s really quite nice.”

Other Douglas County locations that will host events on June 3 and 4 are the Galesville Reservoir in Azalea, Diamond Lake and Lake Marie in Reedsport.

While licenses are waived for the free fishing days, they are not waived for the family fishing events. Children ages 11 and younger can fish for free, while those 12 to 17 and adults will need an Oregon fishing license. Licenses can be purchased at ODFW’s Online License Sales page or from any ODFW field office or retail license outlet.

For more information, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/. For information about free fishing days, call 503-947-6214 and to learn about the family fishing events, call 503-947-6015.

Reporter Emily Hoard can be reached at 541-957-4217 or ehoard@nrtoday.com. Or follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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Business, Natural Resources and Outdoors Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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