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Free Fishing for a Day


People who think the fly-fishing craze that followed the success of the film "A River Runs Through It" passed by Orange County completely haven't met Frank Selby.

Overcoming the lack of a decent fishing river, Selby gives monthly fly-fishing lessons on Upper Newport Bay through the state Department of Fish and Game.

"There's a lot of salt water fly-fishermen here," said Selby, who added that most work the surf in addition to estuaries such as Upper Newport Bay.

Fly-fishing the surf and the bays can bring in bar perch, corbina, bonita, halibut, stingray, bat ray, sharks and mullet, Selby said.

Free fly-tying and casting demonstrations will be offered Saturday at Upper Newport Bay as part of a daylong event marking one of two annual free fishing days, statewide occasions in which anglers are allowed to fish without a license.

"It will give people an idea of what fishing is about," said Selby, the event's coordinator. "Those who have never fished can try it out before they buy a license."

Many of the day's free events are geared to children, including a fishing pond for kids, touch tanks, games and prizes. Adults and children will be given the chance to go out on a boat for short fishing excursions on the bay.

Rods and reels will be available for free loan. Adults also will be eligible for prizes, including a mountain bike and vacation and restaurant packages. There will even be a special booth where participants are invited to tell their "whopper" fishing stories.

The event is put on by the state Department of Fish and Game and Upper Newport Bay Naturalists.

"We've been doing this the last four years, and each year it's about doubled," Selby said. "It's a lot of fun. Everything is free except the food and the T-shirts."

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