Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a fishing license on Jan. 18-19 during the state’s second annual winter Free Fishing Weekend.

Free fishing clinics offered at several state parks and ice fishing equipment available for loan from many state parks and offices statewide make it even easier for people to try Wisconsin’s hard water fishing, says Theresa Stabo, Wisconsin’s angler education director.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to discover what ice fishing’s all about in Wisconsin – fun, friends, family and, of course, the fish,” Stabo says.

“Safe ice allows you to walk to spots you’d need a boat to reach during the open water season and nearly 20 of our tackle loaner sites have ice fishing equipment for you to borrow. All you need is a friend to help you drill a hole to get started fishing and develop a new reason to love Wisconsin winters.”

“Kids fish for free every day in Wisconsin, but the Free Fishing Weekend makes it a great time to get the whole family out and any adults who would like to give it a try, Stabo says. Bring along sakes and sleds to give everyone some variety – and an escape from cabin fever, she says.

More tips on taking kids ice fishing can be found on the ice fishing pages of the DNR website, where DNR fish biologist and avid ice angler Skip Sommerfeldt passes on his tried and true tips for successful ice fishing trips with his daughters.

No fishing license or Great Lakes salmon stamp is needed to fish any Wisconsin water. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and other boundary waters. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish anglers can keep and any seasons when anglers must release certain fish species.

More information about Free Fishing Weekend, including a map with the sites and contact information to arrange to borrow ice fishing equipment, is available online. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search “Free Fishing Weekend.”

Free fishing clinics are scheduled at sites including Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo; Merrick State Park in Fountain City; the Northern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest in Campbellsport; the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eagle and the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville. The Chippewa Valley Family YMCA is also hosting a free fishing clinic at Glen Loch Flowage in Chippewa Falls. Check the DNR web site before Free Fishing Weekend for additional listings.

Ice Fishing Tackle Loaner Sites
Ice fishing equipment is available for loan from the following state parks and DNR office locations. Please contact the DNR staffer listed to reserve and arrange to get the equipment.

Buffalo County
Fountain City
Merrick State Park, S2965 State Road 35, 608-687-4936

Brown County
Green Bay
DNR Northeast Regional Headquarters, Rod Lange, 2984 Shawano Ave.; 920-662-5457

Chippewa County
Cornell
Brunet Island State Park, Mike Rivers, 23125 255th St.; 715-239-6888

Crawford County
Prairie du Chien
DNR Service Center, Patrick Short, 1502 E. Lessard St.; 608-326-8818

Dane County
Fitchburg
DNR Service Center, Kurt Welke, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road, 608-273-5946

Florence County
Florence
DNR Service Center/UW-Extension Building. Greg Matzke or Meg Dallapiazza, 5631 Forestry Drive Florence; 715-528-4400 ext. 122 (Greg); 715-528-5490, ext. 1147 (Meg)

Fond du Lac County 
Campbellsport
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit, Jackie Scarfenberg, N1765 Hwy. G; 920-533-8322

Green County
Monroe
Browntown-Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area, Brad Bates, N3150 Highway 81; 608-527-2335

Kenosha County
Kansasville
Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Beth Goeppinger, 26313 Burlington Road; 262-878-5600

Jackson County
Black River Falls
DNR Service Center, Howie Schmidt, 910 State Highway 54 East; 715-284-1402

Lincoln County
Merrill
Council Grounds State Park, Dawn Bishop, N1895 Council Grounds Dr.; 715-536-8773

Milwaukee County
Milwaukee
Havenwoods State Forest, Matt Coffaro 6141 N. Hopkins St.; 53209; 414-263-8614

Milwaukee
Urban Ecology Center-Washington Park, Terrance Davis, 1859 N. 40th St.; 414-344-5460

Sauk County
Baraboo
Mirror Lake State Park, Becky Green, E10320 Fern Dell Road; 608-254-2333

Sawyer County
Hayward
DNR Service Center, Russ Warwick, 10220 North State Highway 27 South; 715-634-9658 ext.3508

St. Croix County
Baldwin
DNR Service Center, Marty Engel or Matt Andre, 890 Spruce St.; 715-684-2914 ext. 110 (Marty)715-684-2914 ext. 136 (Matt)

Hudson
Willow River State Park, Aaron Mason, 1034 County Highway A; 715-386-5931

Trempealeau County
Trempealeau
Perrot State Park, Lois Larson, W 26247 Sullivan Road; 608-534-6409

Waushara County
Wautoma
DNR Service Center, Scott Bunde, 427 E. Tower Ave.; 920-787-5683

Logo and video courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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