STATE

Free fishing weekend June 6-7 in Louisiana

Staff reports

Get out your fishing gear and don't worry about getting a license.

The weekend of June 6-7, Louisiana residents can enjoy a free fishing weekend and free day-use admission at facilities across the state.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Office of State Parks (OSP) recently announced jointly supported outdoor recreation opportunities during the first weekend in June which includes 2009 Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7 and free day-use admission at State Parks' facilities during a Statewide "Day in the Park" Saturday, June 6.

"We provide this special weekend opportunity for those who have never fished and those who have not fished recently," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. "Our goal is to turn them into frequent fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts."

The normally required recreational fishing license for anglers 16 years of age and older will not be needed on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7 only. Residents and visitors to the state alike can take advantage of the offer. Fishermen are reminded that standard state fishing regulations pertaining to fish size and creel limits are in effect through the weekend.

OSP is showcasing all State Parks on June 6 as part of the agency's 75th Anniversary Celebration with open day-use access to all facilities. Most State Parks provide day-use facilities that include picnic areas, hiking trails, fishing piers and boat ramps. The standard day-use charge will be waived on the first Saturday in June.

"Louisiana presents numerous outdoor recreation opportunities and we're showcasing all of our facilities on June 6," said OSP Assistant Secretary Stuart Johnson. "We invite the public to come out and experience Louisiana's State Parks during our anniversary celebrations."

Both agencies are promoting easy access fishing opportunities that include bank and pier fishing for individuals and families who may not have boat access to fishing spots. Licensed recreational fishermen are encouraged to take someone fishing who is new to the sport or who has not participated in some time.

First time fishermen and parents or guardians with children can introduce someone to the sport at family fishing events scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following State Parks: Bayou Segnette, Westwego; Chicot, Ville Platte; Fontainebleau, Mandeville; Lake Claiborne, Homer; Poverty Point Reservoir, Delhi; and Sam Houston Jones, Lake Charles.

OSP Interpretive Ranger staff and LDWF Education staff will provide assistance for park visitors on June 6 within the day-use areas at the family fishing event sites. Fishing supplies (poles and bait) will be available in limited supplies on a first come, first serve basis. Participants are encouraged to bring their own gear and enjoy the day fishing from a pier or bank-side location.

Complimentary gift bags will be available for the first 200 participants to sign in within the day-use area at each park. Everyone who signs in will also receive a chance at winning door prizes to be drawn for at noon.

Family fishing event participants are urged to bring a picnic lunch and soft drinks and spend the day. Vending machines on site provide soft drinks, but no food service is available at State Park sites. All children (under age 15) must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Free day-use access will also be available at these State Parks: Chemin-A-Haut, Cypremort Point, Fairview-Riverside, Grand Isle, Jimmie Davis, Lake Bistineau, Lake Bruin, Lake D'Arbonne, Lake Fausse Pointe, North Toledo Bend, St. Bernard, South Toledo Bend and Tickfaw.

For more information on these events and directions to any Louisiana State Park, visit http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks/DWFFreeFishingWeekend.aspx.