On Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19 everyone inMichigan– including residents and non-residents – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Those two days make up the Winter Free Fishing Weekend – an annual effort to promoteMichigan’s plentiful fishing opportunities. While many individuals and families will bundle up and head out to fish for free on their own, the DNR is pleased to share that there are numerous organized events scheduled throughout the state to celebrate the weekend as well. Some of these events include:

  • 28th Annual Moose Lodge Fishing Derby at the AuTrain Lake Boat House in Munising
    Feb. 18 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    This event is free for those age 12 and under who attend with a registered adult. There are several categories for this derby – with cash prizes and trophies provided to the winners. Adults are required to pay a $10 entry fee.
  • Free Fishing (and More!) at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg
    Feb. 18 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    This event will offer two winter activities, ice fishing and snowshoeing. If winter weather doesn’t cooperate, alternative activities will be provided. This event is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for entry.
  • Free Fishing Weekend Special Event at Ionia Recreation Area
    Feb. 19 from 10 to 11 a.m.
    Stop by and learn all about ice fishing at this special event during Free Fishing Weekend. Gear will be provided and cool fishing materials will be given away to attendees. This event is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for entry.
  • Izaak Walton League Ice Fishing Derby at Seven Lakes State Park in Holly
    Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    This event will consist of a free ice fishing class from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and then a fishing derby from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. This event is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for entry.
  • Winter Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area
    Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    This event will focus on traditional outdoor activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing, a snowball tournament and much more! This event is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for entry.
  • Winter Fishing Day-Ice Fishing 101 at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan
    Feb. 18 at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
    This event offers youth ages five to 16 the opportunity to learn the basics of ice fishing. The program includes both indoor and outdoor portions. This event is free, but pre-registration is required.

There are many more events scheduled in various locations throughout the state, including Bath, Brighton, Chelsea, Ellsworth, Gulliver, Higgins Lake, Hillman, Lowell, Lupton, Newaygo and Roscommon. For more information about the 2012 Winter Free Fishing Weekend please visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

Michigan has been celebrating the Winter Free Fishing Weekend annually since 1994. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a natural match.

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