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Free Fishing Weekend

Free Fishing Weekend Is Jan. 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 cast 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!

Attend A Clinic

Dane County:
 
Community:  Marshall, Wisconsin
Date:  Jan. 15, 2022
Time:  Friday at 4 p.m. until Saturday at 11:30 p.m. The Free Fishing Weekend license   waiver does not apply to Friday activities.
Place:  Fireman's Park; 309 Park Street, Marshall, Wisconsin
Directions:  North of U.S. Highway 19 and Main Street on the river in Marshall, east of Sun   Prairie. Check for signs in the area.
Target Age:  All ages are welcome!
 Marshall Lion's 20th Annual Ice Fisheree Festival
  • Friendly Lions will help get you started ice fishing
  • Free jig poles to the first 40 youth
  • Snow sculpting competition
  • Outdoor hammerschlagen
  • Candlelit ice skating
  • Flag football
  • Fireworks
 COVID-19 Precautions At Festival
  • The majority of the event is outdoors
  • Masks, hand washing stations and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the event
  • The club will be encouraging social distancing and post signs reminding the public of health and safety guidance
Sponsors:
  • The Barrel Inn
  • The Watering Hole
  • Tom's Guns
  • The Fox Bar & Grill
  • Chatty's Pit Stop
Contact:  For more information contact Shelly Allness [exit DNR], 608-630-4830.
Fond du Lac County: 
 
Community:  Near New Prospect, Wisconsin
Date:  Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022
Time:  12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Place:  Mauthe Lake State Recreation Area Picnic Shelter
Directions:  From U.S. Highway 45, take County Road SS east, drive through New Prospect,   then turn right on County Road GGG. Link to campground map.
Target Age:  All ages are welcome. However, this program is best for beginners over 6 years   old.
Winter Fishing Tricks
  • We will start at the Mauthe Lake picnic shelter.
  • Learn tips on safety and appropriate gear and tackle.
  • Then it's off to Mauthe Lake with experienced ice anglers to lure fish out of the water.
  • Loaner equipment, tackle and bait will be provided.
  • To register call (920) 533-8322 by January 13.
  • Special surprises await all who pre-register.
  • A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your vehicle.
Sponsors:
  • Wisconsin DNR, Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
  • Friends of Kettle Moraine State Forest
Contact:  For more information contact Jackie Scharfenberg, 920-533-8322.
Washington County: 
 
Community:  Near Hartford, Wisconsin
Date:  Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022
Time:  9 a.m. to Noon
Place:  Pike Lake Beach Parking Lot - Kettle Moraine State Forest
Directions:  The Pike Lake Unit is off of Hwy 60, about 2 miles east of Hartford and about 2   miles west of U.S. Highway 41. Link for map.
Target Age:  All ages are welcome. However, this program is best for beginners over six years   old.
Learn to Ice Fish
  • Learn tips on safety and appropriate gear and tackle.
  • Loaner equipment, tackle and bait will be provided.
  • A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your vehicle.
Sponsor:  Wisconsin DNR, Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
Contact:  For more information contact Justin Blindert, 608-732-0371.

Check the events webpage here for other clinics being held around the state for Free Fishing Weekend.

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 the following bodies of water, which are off-limits:
    • Spring ponds, ponds and lakes
    • Lake Michigan tributaries and major Green Bay tributaries
    • All other Green Bay tributary streams, rivers and ditches 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.
  • What you leave on the ice typically ends 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 handing 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 onshore. 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.

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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 Jan. 15-16, 2022 and June 4-5, 2022.