Catching some fun will be free this weekend during Oregon’s traditional free-fishing weekend.
During the first weekend in June, those angling for a good time can do so without a fishing license at any body of water in the state.
Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is sponsoring fishing events throughout the state, including three in Douglas County. Other local businesses and organizations will be helping.
“Cooper Creek is kind of our flagship event for the county,” said Evan Leonetti, a STEP Biologist for ODFW. “We have games, casting contests, we have hot dogs, soda and we have a kiddie fishing pond and angler instructors to help people who are first time anglers — young or old.”
On Saturday, aspiring fisherman can reel in the knowledge at Diamond Lake or Sutherlin’s Cooper Creek Reservoir, where ODFW officials will teach new anglers about anything they’ll need to get started — from baiting a hook to landing a catch.
The event at Cooper Creek, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is geared toward families, especially those with children, age 12 or younger.
“We have a handful of people every year that are new to the sport, haven’t really been fishing before and want to take their kid out and have no clue. These events are really beneficial to those folks who are curious, haven’t done it before and want to experience it,” Leonetti said.
Fishing activities will likely start a bit earlier at Diamond Lake, with registration opening at 6 a.m. for the 17-and-under fishing derby.
“If you want to catch a fish the highest recommendation would be Diamond Lake, at least as far as trout go,” Leonetti said. “It’s been on fire up there, it’s been incredible. People are catching limits in no time.”
Lake Marie in Reedsport will have a free fishing event on Sunday. In addition to a fishing derby and angling instructions, children can try Gyotaku, or fish printing. ODFW recently stocked Lake Marie with 2,000 larger sized trout.
“It coincides with free fishing weekend so people don’t have to worry about buying a license,” Leonetti said. Fishing contest will be held at all three sites.
In the past there have been activities at Azalea’s Galesville Reservoir, but the event has been cancelled this year due to a lack of support from local businesses. “We tried to limp it along last year but I had to call it this year,” Leonetti said. “We had partners in the area that raised money for us in the past and they helped staff it, but they weren’t able to it this year.”
Leonetti said he’s hopeful the community will step up and revive the free fishing event in south county.
People can still go fishing at Galesville Reservoir as well as any other body of water in Oregon without a license this weekend.
“It’s a great time of year to fish the South Umpqua or mainstem Umpqua for bass,” Leonetti said. He also recommended shad fishing on the mainstem Umpqua, clamming and checking out the recreation report on MyODFW.com for recent stocking reports.
Leonetti is expecting good weather for fishing and hopes to have approximately 200 people come to the Cooper Creek festivities. Overall, the three events in Douglas County typically draw around 500 new anglers.
“That’s a pretty good showing for a county with 100,000 people,” Leonetti said.
Other free fishing weekends will be held Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-2, and Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov. 23-24. Area closures, bag limits and all other regulations still apply.