Angler and aquatic education - Fishing Wisconsin DNR

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Got license?
Give yourself the license to relax and catch some memories while you're at it.
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
For more information, please contact:
Theresa Stabo
R3 Coordinator
Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation

Fishing Wisconsin Angler and aquatic education

Be a part of Wisconsin’s conservation tradition by becoming an Angler Education Instructor.

Angler Education

First step: knot-tying!

The angler education program is looking for people who enjoy working with children, like to fish or would like to learn by helping to teach others.

Instructors provide opportunities to learn basic fishing skills, explore Wisconsin’s aquatic resources and develop a set of conservation ethics to help ensure that Wisconsin’s lakes and streams will remain bountiful for generations to come.

The program provides training workshops to clubs, schools, youth development organizations and service groups. Trained instructors have access to educational resources and loaner fishing equipment.

Instructor certification

Instructor certification

Angler Education

An Instructor-In-Training practices casting skills and resourcefulness with a fish target and pop-can rig along Milwaukee's lakefront.

Who are instructors?

Instructors are people like you. Youth leaders, classroom teachers, fishing club members and civic leaders are all encouraged to attend a workshop as a team or form one at the workshop. Successful program models include after-school fishing clubs, summer enrichment classes, family-school/camp adventures, scout merit badges and more.

While this program has traditionally focused on youth, keep in mind adults who may have missed the boat as kids.

Certification process

People get certified as Angler Education Instructors by attending a training workshop and completing a background check [PDF].

Here are more specifics on the certification process.

Training workshops

Training workshops

Angler Education

Instructors-In-Training test non-lead sinkers at a Rhinelander workshop.

Please check back from time to time for updates to this schedule.

Basic angler education instructor certification workshop

Basic Angler Education instructor certification workshops focus on teaching spin casting and incorporating related topics in a K-12 curriculum, youth development program or adult education. Some workshops feature fly fishing or complementary aquatic resources education programs.

Fishing club members, youth leaders, classroom teachers and civic leaders are encouraged to attend a workshop as a team or form a team at a workshop. Successful models include after-school fishing clubs, summer enrichment classes, school-family events and Boy Scout merit badge training.

Workshop Registration & Fees

Angler Education workshops are free; sometimes we even feed you lunch or dinner, too! If your plans change, please notify us three days in advance so that we may offer your seat to someone on the waiting list and plan accordingly.

To schedule a volunteer or teacher training workshop in your community, please contact Theresa Stabo, R3 Coordinator, 608-577-6332. We need a minimum of 8 to 12 adult participants, depending on location, to hold a workshop.

Workshop schedule

While workshops are planned throughout the year, we don't have any scheduled right now. Sign up for GovDelivery to receive alerts about changes to this schedule and new opportunities. Look for the "envelope" icon at the bottom of this page.

Loaner gear

Tackle Loaner Program

No fishing rod? No problem. We have fishing equipment you can borrow at several DNR offices and state parks and facilities. There is no charge to borrow the equipment -- just enjoy your day fishing in Wisconsin and return the equipment in the condition you received it (or better) so that the next person can enjoy it.

Check out the fishing equipment contacts page for information on who to contact to find out exactly what kind of gear is available near you. If you have general questions about the tackle loaner program contact Theresa Stabo, 608-577-6332.

Available gear

While special lures and fresh bait are not provided, we generally have the following basic equipment at most sites:

Family fishing

The DNR has equipment you can borrow to get children hooked on fishing.

  • many closed face fishing rods and reels;
  • a few open face rods and reels;
  • casting plugs;
  • bobbers; and
  • hooks, lines and sinkers

In addition to fishing equipment, some sites (but not all) have fish printing materials, knot-tying practice equipment, Backyard Bass (a casting game) and other educational resources like Fish Packs [PDF]. Fish Packs are stocked with games, stories and activities that help youngsters learn about Wisconsin fish. Check one out or download the link for ideas to create your own. Inquire when you contact or visit a loaner site to see exactly what they have to offer.

Keep in mind

Before you plan a fishing trip around loaner equipment, know that:

  • equipment is available on a first come, first served basis; and
  • you may borrow equipment for up to one week, unless demand is low in your area. Ask the contact in your area if an extension is possible.

Follow the Golden Rule

Please return loaner equipment in the condition you would like it to be when you borrow it.

  • Make proper handling and care of equipment part of your angler or fishing education program.
  • If the equipment was damaged, return all the parts with a note explaining what happened.
  • Instructions to fix a tangled reel [PDF].

The most popular time for borrowing the equipment is also the busiest time for our field staff - spring and early summer. Please help them out by returning the equipment clean and in good working order. If something breaks -- which sometimes happens -- fix it if you can, or bring the problem to our staff's attention so the next group will have functional equipment. Your help with maintenance frees up our field staff for stocking fish and working on habitat projects.

Adopt a fishing tackle loaner site

Many tackle loaner sites would welcome help with equipment maintenance. This would be a great volunteer service project for scouts, students, fishing clubs or anyone who'd like to pitch in and ensure that our gear is in shape for beginner anglers. Materials will be provided for re-spooling and general clean-up. Loaner sites that want help are marked with a VM. Locate the site nearest you on the fishing equipment contacts page and call them to find out how you can help. Thank you!


Fishing clinics

Throughout the year, the Department of Natural Resources works with local parks departments, fishing clubs and organizations to host fishing clinics and other events. Thanks to all clinic hosts and sponsors!

Attend a clinic

Brown, Milwaukee and Dane Counties
Description: Check out what the Fishing in the Neighborhood Interns are offering around the state now through August. Go fishing with the FiN'terns!
Fond du Lac County
Community: Campbellsport Area
Place: Long Lake Recreation Area
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Description: Learn to Fish Rodeo with Angler Education Instructor & Naturalist Jackie Scharfenberg
Target age: All ages; young children must be accompanied by an adult.
Sponsor: Department of Natural Resources
Notes: Wisconsin State Park System Vehicle Sticker required for entry.
Fishing licenses required for anglers ages 16 and older.
Contact: Register with Jackie Scharfenberg, Naturalist, 920-533-8322.
Vilas County
Community: Eagle River
Place: HI Pines Campgrounds

Need not be camping at HI Pines
Dates: Tuesdays, June 13 – August 8, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Target age: Kids, but bring an adult so they can learn, too!
Description: Kids' Fishing Tips

Two-hour sessions to learn fishing basics:
  • Knot-tying
  • Fish ID
  • Casting
  • Safety by the water
Sponsor: Headwaters Muskies, Inc.
DNR Certified Angler Education Instructors:
  • A.Jim Heffner
  • Carol Heffner
  • Diane Jensen
  • Elmer Jensen
  • Summer Hendrickson
  • Andy Hendrickson
  • Bill Jacobs
  • Frank Pratt
Contact: A. Jim Heffner, 715-477-2667 or 715-891-0293.
Community: Boulder Junction
Place: Community Center — Library
Date: Friday, August 10, 2018
Time: 8 a.m. – Noon
Target age: Adults
Description: Learn to Fish Musky - Musky Jamboree

Anyone is welcome to attend the morning classroom portion without any advance registration. Individuals who have registered in advance and are selected to fish with a mentor will be provided a lunch and spend the afternoon on the water. Topics include:
  • Musky biology
  • Musky management
  • Musky Propagation
  • Basic Musky Fishing Techniques
  • Musky Fishing Information and Group Discussion
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce
Contact: Steve Gilbert, Fisheries Biologist, 715-356-5211, Ext. 229.

We'll post more clinics as we learn of them. Please check back.

Plan a fishing clinic

Anytime is a good time to start planning a fishing clinic. Download the Fishing Clinic Planner [PDF] to help get yourself organized. Return your completed form to the Angler Education Office at the DNR. Contact the Angler Education Office if you would like a planning form mailed to you.

Participants 16 years or older likely will need fishing licenses to fish at most events, unless they occur on Free Fishing Weekend. Call contacts for complete information.

Dates to remember

Don't forget about Free Fishing Weekend, always the 1st weekend in June and the 3rd weekend in January - no license required. Mark your calendars now to plan your next Free Fishing Weekend outing for your organization or friends and family:

  • Free Fishing Weekend - Summer, June 3 & 4, 2017
  • Free Fishing Weekend - Winter, January 20 & 21, 2018

¿Habla usted español?


Necesitamos pescadores que hablen español para patrocinar o ayudar en nuestras clínicas de pesca. Estos eventos enseñan a pescar a gente de todas edades.

Por favor déjenos saber que usted habla español si usted va ofrecer una clínica de pesca, o si va ayudar como voluntario, e incluiremos un aviso que “se habla español” en el anuncio de estos eventos en nuestro sitio Web.

Koj puas paub hais lus hmoob?

Peb xav yuav neeg uas paub hais lub hmoob los qhuas qhia neeg txhua lub noob nyoog txog nuv ntses. Yog nej muaj lus xav qhuas qhias thiab txawj hais lub hmoob, thov nej qhia rau peb paub. Yog nej xav tuaj pab thiab paub lub hmoob, thov nej qhia rau peb thiab. Peb mam li tshaj tawm rau ntawm peb lub Web site kom txhua tus hnov tias muaj neeg uas paub hais lus hmoob tuaj qhia txog nuv ntses.

More fishing opportunities

The Department of Tourism lists special events and opportunities on their website:
The Great Outdoors - Fishing [exit DNR].

Borrow a rod, keep the memories

No fishing pole? No worries. Contact a Tackle Loaner site at one of several state parks and DNR regional offices to borrow one. Pack up the family or call your friends and head to the water.

Fishing in the Neighborhood

Fishing in the Neighborhood - FiN

The Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program partners with local parks and community organizations to bring learn-to-fish opportunities to area residents and visitors from June through August.

College-age interns or FiN'terns have been placed at community centers in Green Bay, Madison and the Milwaukee area to teach fishing fundamentals and connect people with their local aquatic resources. This program strives to move fishing from an annual event to repeatable opportunities to wet a line, under supervision. Programming formats vary among the sites from 2-week sessions to drop-in, like old-fashioned summer playground programs.

2018 FiN'terns

2018 FiN'tern training

Meet the 2018 FiN'terns!

  • Owen Murphy & Courtney (CJ) Usadel: Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay
  • Jess Jenkins & Marcel White: Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee
  • Nick Olson & Nate Schimanski: Wehr Nature Center, Milwaukee
  • Abby Achtenhagen & Zeke Vredenbregt: Madison School & Community Recreation, Madison

Thanks to our 2018 FiN partner organizations for welcoming and supervising our FiN'terns this summer!

Fishing with the FiN'terns

Join the FiN'terns at parks in the Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison areas.

  • Loaner fishing gear is available.
  • Anglers ages 16 and older are required to have a fishing license.

Clinic schedule

Brown County
Community: Green Bay
Place: Voyager's Park
Date: Monday, August 13, 2018
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Event: Fishing picnic with the FiN'terns
Pack along a picnic and join in!
Target age: All ages; small children must be accompanied by an adult.
More Information: Please see Flyer.
  • Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Green Bay Parks, Recreation and Forestry
  • Department of Natural Resources
Contacts: FiN'terns Owen Murphy or CJ Usadel.
Milwaukee County
Community: Milwaukee
Place: Pulaski Park
Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Description: Kinnickinnic River Workshop - Learn to Fish with the FiN'terns!
  • Casting games
  • Fish cleaning demo
  • Fish cooking demo with tasting
  • ¡Se habla español! * Spanish spoken!
  • Check out the flyer to learn about other Kinnickinnic River Workshops designed to get you out in your neighborhood.
Target age: All ages welcome; small children must be accompanied by an adult.
Note: Anglers ages 16 and over need a fishing license
  • Sixteenth Street Community Health Center
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Milwaukee County Parks Department
  • Department of Natural Resources
Contact: Elizabeth De Leon, Environmental Health Educator at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, 414-897-5622.

FiN is supported by the Sport Fish Restoration fund, which is generated by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. Programs are typically free, although there may be fees for special field trips.

Last revised: Thursday August 02 2018