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Winter Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 18-19

Ice Anglers Urged to Use Caution, Check DNR Website for Possible Event Schedule Changes

People can fish without a license on Jan. 18-19 during Winter Free Fishing Weekend. - Photo credit: DNR
People can fish without a license on Jan. 18-19 during Winter Free Fishing Weekend.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Theresa Stabo, R3 coordinator, 608-577-6332,
January 16, 2020 at 2:43:01 pm

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is hosting Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 18-19. Wisconsin's winter Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to discover the fun of ice fishing. Take advantage of this free opportunity to introduce family and friends to the sport.

"Ice fishing is a great way to get outside during the winter and fish anywhere without a boat," said Theresa Stabo, DNR R3 -- Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation -- coordinator.

During Free Fishing Weekend, residents and visitors can fish almost anywhere without a license or a trout stamp. No gear? No problem. Residents and visitors can also check out free loaner equipment. Several ice fishing workshops will be held around the state and are listed on the Free Fishing Weekend webpage.

"We want to encourage everyone to have fun this weekend while also using common sense before heading out on the ice," Stabo said. Check the website for possible event or schedule changes due to changing ice and weather conditions.

No fishing license, Great Lakes salmon and trout stamp or inland trout stamp are needed to fish most Wisconsin waters. This includes inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and other boundary waters; however, spring trout ponds are not open during Free Fishing Weekend.

Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. If you do plan to keep your catch, be sure to consult the DNR's Safe Eating Guidelines to stay informed of potential consumption advisories impacting certain water bodies throughout the state. Anglers fishing in the Madison area should note that the DNR and Department of Health recently issued a PFAS-based fish consumption advisories for Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona.

Given recent warm temperatures and rain in many parts of the state this week, DNR staff members are urging anglers to exercise caution to stay safe. Anglers should err on the side of caution and never assume consistent ice throughout the waterbody. Ice conditions vary across the state, and DNR fisheries biologists advise anglers to check ice conditions carefully and dress warmly. The best sources for information on ice conditions in your area are local bait shops and fishing organizations.

Last Revised: Thursday, January 16, 2020

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