DNR offering Free Fishing Weekend statewide

An ice fishing pole sits next to a hole in the ice.
An ice fishing pole sits next to a hole in the ice.(Pixabay)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:33 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:23 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 21-22.

“Free fishing day started in the mid-80s and we decided it needed to be more than just a day. So, in the mid-90s we made it a whole weekend. It’s always now the first weekend in June and we thought well let’s give people an opportunity to experience winter fishing too. And so, in 2012, we added the winter free fishing weekend,” Theresa Stabo, Angler Outreach Specialist with the DNR, said.

This weekend, you can drill a hole and drop a line without a fishing license, trout stamp or salmon stamp. It’s a great opportunity for family and friends to give the sport a try.

“We want to get people out there. These waters belong to all of us and we want to make sure that everybody feels welcome and really can form a relationship with our waters. You know you protect what you love so we really want to start a love affair with our lakes and streams in Wisconsin with everybody so that we’ll all be thinking about how we can take care of them and have them always be healthy, productive wonderful places to be,” Stabo said.

While you can fish without a license this weekend, all fishing regulations still remain in effect, including seasons, bag limits and length limits. Here is more information on Wisconsin’s Fishing Regulations for 2022-2023.

“For people who have fished a lot, you probably know someone who hasn’t. So, invite them along. Invite a neighbor along to go out ice fishing with you,” Stabo said.

If you are in need of fishing gear, no problem. Wisconsin has more than 50 tackle loaner sites and many of them have ice fishing gear that you can borrow. In Dane County, that site is located at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center in Madison.

While this weekend should be fun for Wisconsinites, the DNR is emphasizing safety on the ice.

“You know it is free fishing weekend and that’s not just ice fishing too. I mean if the ice looks too sketchy where you’re around and there’s a big part of the area is open water, you can cast a line just as you would in the summer time. You can fish from shore,” Stabo said.

The DNR also offers Ice Fishing For Dinner classes where you can learn to clean your catch of the day. All gear and supplies are provided.

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