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Got license?
Give yourself the license to relax and catch some memories while you're at it.
Regulations
Know the regulations to make your fishing more enjoyable.
Places to fish
Wisconsin offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Give them a try!
Get started
Get the basic information you need to get on the water and try your luck.
Contact information
Theresa Stabo
Aquatic resources educator
608-266-2272

Fishing Wisconsin - Angler & aquatic education Free Fishing Weekend - January 21–22, 2017

Ice Fishing

There's no such thing as bad weather,
only poor clothing. - Norwegian Proverb

Winter has been fickle!

While the recent warm-up and rain have compromised ice safety in some parts of the state, opportunities to bring your friends out for a day of free fishing are still out there. Be aware of the "honeycomb effect," which occurs after freeze-thaw-freeze conditions, and weakens ice. Stay safely on shore and cast into open water if your line can reach it.

Fish almost anywhere!

Fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend. Most waters of the state are included, except for spring trout ponds. All other inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River are open for you to test your skills and try your luck. Remember, all usual regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force. Please exercise caution before heading out on the ice.

Attend a Free Fishing Weekend event!

Please watch this listing for cancellations as conditions may change in the next few days, or contact the event organizer. Pending conditions, volunteers, clubs, organizations and DNR staff stand ready to share fishing basics with you this weekend. Loaner gear and bait are provided at most events.

Chippewa County
Community: Chippewa Falls, WI
Date: January 21, 2017
Time: Noon to 4 p.m.
Place: Glen Loch; access from Ojibwa Golf & Bowl, 8140 136th St.
Directions: Hwy 124 North past YMCA, left on 136th St; parking lot is on the left
Target Age: Novices of all ages who are new to ice fishing
Get Hooked! Learn to Ice Fish and Cook Your Catch!
  • Free event open to the public.
  • Instruction provided on how to ice fish.
  • Learn how to clean and prepare your catch for the table.
  • Sample the catch of the day.
  • Loaner fishing gear will be available.
  • Prizes and give-a-ways throughout the afternoon.
  • No registration required!
Sponsors: Chippewa Valley YMCA, Chippewa Rod and Gun Club, and DNR Conservation Wardens
Contact: For more information contact Ron Bakken [exit DNR], 715-723-7770.
Dane County
Community: Marshall, WI
Dates: January 20 & 21, 2017
Times:
  • January 20: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • January 21: 6 a.m. to Midnight
Note: Only Saturday, January 21 is part of Free Fishing Weekend. You will need a fishing license to participate on Friday, January 20.
Place: Fireman's Park; 309 Park Street, Marshall, WI
Target Age: All ages are welcome!
Marshall Lion's 14th Annual Ice Fisheree Festival
  • Ice skating.
  • Coyote and rabbit hunt tournament - appropriate licenses required.
  • Raffles for great prizes.
  • Broomball tournament
  • DJ and more!
Sponsors:
  • Auburn Ridge
  • The Barrel Inn
  • AKJ Spirits
  • Tom's Guns
  • Chatty's Pit Stop
  • Wings Over Wisconsin
Contact: For more information contact Shelly Allness [exit DNR], 608-630-4830.
Fond du Lac County
Community: Campbellsport; Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
Date: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Time: 10 a.m. to Noon
Place: Mauthe Lake Recreation Area Picnic Shelter - located off of County Road GGG and south of County Road SS near New Prospect.
Target Age: All ages are welcome, but best for those over 6.
Sponsor: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Description: Learn to Ice Fish Start inside the Mauthe Lake Picnic Shelter for a presentation on safety tips and appropriate gear and tackle. Then it's off to Mauthe Lake with some experienced ice anglers to try our best to lure those fish out of the water. Equipment, tackle and bait will be provided. A Wisconsin state park sticker is required to enter the activity area.
Registration Required: Please call or email to register by January 20, 2017. Special surprises await all who pre-register.
Contact: Jackie Scharfenberg, Naturalist, Ice Age Vistor Center, 920-533-8322.
Oneida County
Community: Rhinelander, WI
Date: January 21, 2017
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: Perch Lake Park, 8 miles west of Rhinelander, WI
Directions: From Washburn Lake Road, go east on Trout Creek Road 1/2 mile; South on County Park Road 1/4 mile. Park at Perch Lake County Park and walk onto the lake.
Target Age: School-age youth and their families.
Learn the basics of ice fishing!
  • Free event open to the public.
  • Jig poles, bait and hot chocolate will be provided.
  • Park has an enclosed shelter (unheated) and outdoor fireplace.
  • Perch Lake contains rainbow trout, bluegill and perch.
Sponsors: Oneida County 4H and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Contact: For more information contact Lynn Feldman [exit DNR], Oneida County 4H, 715-365-2750

Host a Free Fishing Weekend event!

If you would like us to post your event on our Web site, just fill out and return this Free Fishing Weekend Planning Form [PDF] and you'll be good to go! Details are on the form. Remember to plan for adults who may have missed out as kids! We’ll post your events as we learn of them. Of course, you can just take your friends fishing without telling us, but we love to hear your stories about how you coaxed your pals out for a free weekend of fishing.

Need fishing gear?

No fishing gear? No problem. We have fishing poles that you can borrow at many state parks and DNR offices; many of those sites have ice fishing gear. Contact a Tackle Loaner site at one of several state parks and DNR regional offices to borrow one. Call the DNR staffer or partner listed for each site to find out what specific equipment is available and to arrange to pick it up.

Get a license

New to fishing, but want to make it a habit after Free Fishing Weekend? Try our "First-time buyer" resident license for only $5. Discounts for non-residents too!

Here is more information about purchasing a fishing license so you'll be ready to fish any time of the year!

Dates to remember

Free Fishing Weekends are always held the third full weekend in January and the first full weekend in June. For 2017, it will be January 21 – 22 and June 3 – 4.

More fishing opportunities

The Department of Tourism lists events at The Great Outdoors - Fishing, [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday January 18 2017