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Free Fishing Weekend

January 15 - 16, 2022

Free Fishing Weekend Is January 15-16, 2022

Wisconsin is home to 49 state parks, 15 state forests, 44 state trails, 84,000 miles of rivers and streams, roughly 15,000 lakes and so much more. On Free Fishing Weekend, you can wet a line without having a fishing license, trout stamp or salmon stamp. What a great opportunity for family and friends to give it a try!

Plan a Clinic

Angler Education instructors, state park staff and organizations are invited to host fishing clinics around the state. Complete and submit this planning form  [Download] by January 5, 2022 and we'll help you get the word out. Please include safety protocols related to COVID-19 in your plans. We want you, your volunteers and participants all to be safe in every respect. Thank you!

Attend a Clinic

Check back here as the weekend gets closer to find out where and when clinics are being held around the state.

No Tackle? No Problem!

Wisconsin has more than 50 tackle loaner sites and many of them have ice fishing gear that you can borrow. Office hours vary by site, so contact the loaner site and plan ahead to pick up the gear. While we do have basic ice fishing gear, ice augers are not part of the package. Ice anglers are a friendly bunch so politely ask someone to drill you a hole or claim one that's been abandoned. Maintain a distance of 6 feet while they're drilling the hole.

Know Before You Go

  • All 2021-2022 fishing regulations apply, including seasons, bag limits and length limits.
  • Early season catch and release trout streams are included this weekend, but you do have to release the fish! Note: The early season does not apply to spring ponds, ponds, lakes, Lake Michigan tributaries, major Green Bay tributaries, all other tributary streams, rivers and ditches to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake, or streams flowing into Lake Superior and their tributaries upstream to the first impassable barrier. See page 2 of the trout regulations for details.
  • Locate launches and shore fishing access points near you. The piers at launches may be gone for the winter, but these areas still provide good access to get out on the ice.
  • Keep in mind that what you leave on the ice winds up in the water come spring, so pack out what you've packed in.
  • Minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species by taking your bait home with you or hand it over to another angler; never move live fish away from any waterbody.
  • If you plan to keep your catch, be sure to consult the DNR's Safe Eating Guidelines to learn about potential consumption advisories.

Think Smart Before You Venture Out

  • No ice is safe ice! Be aware of the honeycomb effect, which occurs when freeze-thaw-freeze cycles weaken the ice.
  • Wise anglers wear a life jacket before they head out on the ice.
  • Check with local bait shops for current ice conditions where you plan to fish.
  • If ice is questionable, stay safely on shore. If you can cast to open water, give that a try.
  • Always be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you'll return. Learn more about ice safety here

SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FREE FISHING WEEKEND

Whether at a clinic or just out with your family or friends, please remember to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from those who are not part of your group. Have a mask handy in case you need it; it will also keep your face warm.

Tried Fishing and Loved It? Get Your License Now.

New to fishing or haven’t bought a fishing license in 10 years? Want to make it a healthy habit? Try our First-time buyer - Welcome back resident license for only $5. Buy yours today.

Mark Your Calendar

Free Fishing Weekends are always held the third full weekend in January and the first full weekend in June. For 2022, the dates will be January 15-16, 2022 and June 4-5, 2022.