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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!
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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 & aquatic education Free Fishing Weekend - January 18–19, 2020

Dressed for success!

Join in - the fish'll be biting!

Attend a Free Fishing Weekend clinic!

Stallwart partners and DNR staff stand ready to introduce you to the art and science of hardwater fishing. Of course, you can just take your friends fishing without attending a clinic or telling us, but we love to hear your stories about how you coaxed your pals out for a free weekend of fishing.

The last update on this listing will be made on January 17, by 9 a.m. Check with site organizers after that.

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. Review information about the early trout season and the trout regulations for clarification. If you see a season date listed for a specific body of water, you'll be fine, although some waters may be catch and release only.
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, the all usual regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force.

Winter can be fickle!

While balmy winter temps and rain in some parts of the state have compromised ice safety in affected areas, opportunities to bring your friends out for a day of free fishing and winter fun still abound.

Tread carefully

Please exercise caution before heading out on the ice. Be aware of the "honeycomb effect," which occurs after freeze-thaw-freeze conditions, that weakens ice. Stay safely on shore and cast into open water if ice conditions are questionable.

Dane County
Community: Marshall, WI 53559
Location: Firemen's Park
Directions: Firemen's Park is located at 309 Park Street in Marshall, WI. It is north of Main Street off West Park Drive on the Maunesha River.
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2019
Time: 6 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Description: Marshall Lion's Annual Ice Fisheree Festival.
Two fun-filled days, January 17th and 18th!
  • Due to uncertain ice conditions, all fishing is cancelled. However, come on out for some fun winter festivities.
  • Candlelit skating
  • Outhouse races
  • Texas Hold'em
  • Snow sculpting contest
  • Bar, food & DJ
  • Raffle, silent auction and more!
Target Audience: All are welcome
  • The Fox Bar & Grill
  • Chatty's Pit Stop
  • The Barrel Inn
  • Tom's Guns
  • Auburn Ridge
  • The Watering Hole
  • Stubby's Bowl
Contact: For more information contact Shelly Allness, 608-630-4830
Fond Du Lac County
Community: Campbellsport, WI 53010
Location: Mauthe Lake Recreation Area
Meet here: Mauthe Lake picnic shelter
Directions: Mauthe Lake located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit.
The address is N1490 County Road GGG in Campbellsport WI.
From Highway 45 take County Road SS east to County Road GGG. Turn south onto County Road GGG.
Drive to the entrance of the Mauthe Lake Recreation Area. Meet at the stone picnic shelter near the beach.
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2019
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Description: Tricks of winter fishing
  • Learn from experienced ice anglers.
  • Start inside the Mauthe Lake picnic shelter for a presentation on safety tips, appropriate gear and tackle.
  • Afterwards, head to Mauthe Lake to try our best at luring fish out of the water.
  • Equipment, tackle and bait provided.
  • This program is best for people over 6 years old.
  • To register call (920)533-8322 by January 17th.
Note: State Park sticker required for entrance and available for purchase at the park.
Target Audience: 6 years old and up
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit
  • HT Enterprises
Contact: For more information contact Jackie Scharfenberg, 920-533-8322
Manitowoc County
Community: Schleswig, WI 53042
Location: Cedar Lake
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2019
Time: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Description: Fishing fun day!
  • Food and games with prizes for kids!
  • Experienced anglers will be on hand to help.
  • Learn how to fish with jigging sticks and tip-ups.
Target Audience: All ages welcome
Sponsor: Hermitage Conservation Club
Contact: For more information contact Josh McDole, 920-980-8185.
Polk County
Community: Amery, WI 54001
Location: YMCA Camp Icaghowan on Lake Wapogasset
Date: Sunday, January 19, 2019
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Description: Family Fishing Day! Lunch provided.
Target Audience: All ages welcome
Sponsor: YMCA
Contact: For more information contact Rebecca Pepin, 715-386-4380.
Community: Luck, WI 54853
Location: Rainbow Lake at Straight Lake State Park
Directions: Take State Highway 48 East out of Luck, WI for 4 miles to 120th St.
Head north on 120th for 1 mile to park entrance and parking lot.
It's a 75-yard walk from the parking lot to Rainbow Lake.
Wear waterproof boots! Sometimes this seepage lake develops a thin layer of water on the ice.
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2019
Time: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Description: Fish with park staff and the Friends of Interstate Park
  • Try your hand at drilling a hole through the ice.
  • Practice setting up a tip-up, and jigging for fish.
  • Ice auger, tip ups, poles and bait provided.
Note: State Park sticker required for entrance and available for purchase at the park.
Target Audience: All ages welcome
Sponsor: Friends of Interstate Park
Contact: For more information contact Matthew Densow, 715-483-3747
Portage County
Community: Amherst, WI 54407
Location: Lake Emily, boat landing on the east end of the lake, off of Lake Drive
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Description: Ice Fishing Day
  • Teaching kids and cub scouts all about ice fishing.
  • Come see if ice fishing is for you!
Target Audience: Kindergarten - Adult
Sponsor: Cub Scout Pack 3714 - Waupun
Contact: For more information contact Jessica Schultz, 920-763-5272
Washington County
Community: Hartford, WI
Location: Pike Lake, Kettle Moraine State Forest, 3544 Kettle Moraine Rd.
Meet here: Meet at the beach
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2020
Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Description: Learn to Fish – Ice Fishing
  • Guided fishing with instructors.
  • Fishing gear provided.
  • Fish fry with hot chocolate and campfire at the end.
Note: State Park sticker required for entrance and available for purchase at the park.
Target Audience: Ages 10 and over, or anyone new to ice fishing
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Pike Lake Sportsman Club
  • Wisconsin DNR
Contact: For more information contact Justin Blindert, 608-732-0371.

Dates to remember

Free Fishing Weekends are always held the third full weekend in January and the first full weekend in June. For 2020, mark January 18 & 19 and June 6 & 7 on your calendars and make plans to introduce your friends to fishing. Watch for planning forms about three months before the big date. If your outing is open to the public, give us the details and we'll post it on this site to help you get a good turn-out.

Need fishing gear?

No fishing gear? No problem. We have fishing poles that you can borrow at many state parks and DNR offices. 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!

More fishing opportunities

Other DNR-sponsored clinics are listed here and the Department of Tourism lists events at The Great Outdoors - Fishing,[exit DNR].

Last revised: Thursday January 16 2020