The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is hosting Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16 to share the fun and excitement of winter fishing. No fishing license or trout and salmon stamps are required.
Anglers can fish state waters where there is an open season. All other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species.
As a reminder, anglers cannot fish spring trout ponds during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend. Please review the trout regulations and 2021-2022 Hook and Line regulations for more information.
If you plan to keep your catch, be sure to review the DNR’s Safe Eating Guidelines to stay informed of potential consumption advisories impacting some waterbodies throughout the state.
“Free Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to give angling a try, without the added step and expense of getting a fishing license,” said Theresa Stabo, DNR Fishing Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Coordinator. “Fishing is about so much more than the catch. Get out there and enjoy nature, spend time with friends and family and if you’re lucky, bring home some fish for your next at-home fish fry.”
Find Free Fishing Weekend events on the DNR events webpage.
Prepare To Fish
If you’re new to ice fishing, check out the “Ice Fishing Essentials” story in the latest issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine for tips on what you’ll need to get started.
Visit the DNR’s Fishing Equipment For Loan webpage to find a tackle loaner site with ice fishing equipment near you. Locations with ice fishing equipment will have an “IF” next to their name. Basic gear is available; however, sites do not lend out ice augers. Hours and available equipment vary, so contact the site in advance and plan ahead to pick up the gear.
Winter Fishing Safety Reminders
Remember, no ice is 100% safe. Check with local bait shops for current ice conditions in the area you plan to ice fish. Stay safely on shore if ice conditions are questionable and if open water is within casting distance, give that a try. Always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll return.
Lastly, dress for winter comfort, and don’t forget your safety gear:
Warm layers that are water-resistant
Sturdy waterproof boots with spike-style creepers for traction
Extra hat and gloves
Rescue throw rope
More Fishing Fun
Continue your fishing adventure after Free Fishing Weekend by buying a fishing license.
The next Free Fishing Weekend will take place June 4-5, 2022.