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Angler and aquatic education

Be a part of Wisconsin's conservation tradition by becoming an Angler Education Instructor.

The angler education program is looking for people who enjoy working with children, like to fish or would like to learn by helping to teach others.

Instructors provide opportunities to learn basic fishing skills, explore Wisconsin's aquatic resources and develop a set of conservation ethics to help ensure that Wisconsin's lakes and streams will remain bountiful for future generations.

The program provides training workshops to clubs, schools, youth development organizations and service groups. Trained instructors have access to educational resources and loaner fishing equipment.

Instructor Certification

Instructor Certification

Angler Education Instructor in training
Instructor-in-training

Who are the instructors?

Instructors are people like you. Youth leaders, classroom teachers, fishing club members and civic leaders are encouraged to attend a workshop as a team or form one at the workshop. Successful program models include after-school fishing clubs, summer enrichment classes, family-school/camp adventures, scout merit badges and more.

While this program has traditionally focused on youth, remember to consider adults who may have missed the boat as kids.

Certification Process

People get certified as Angler Education Instructors by attending a training workshop and completing a background check using DNR Form 4100-217 [PDF].

Here are more specifics on the certification process.

Training workshops

Training workshops

Practicing casting skills
Practicing casting skills

Angler education instructor certification workshop

Basic Angler Education instructor certification workshops focus on teaching spin casting and incorporating related topics in a K-12 curriculum, youth development program or adult education. Some workshops feature fly fishing or complementary aquatic resources education programs, while others are linked to our adult Fishing for Dinner program.

Fishing club members, youth leaders, classroom teachers, community center staff and civic leaders are encouraged to attend as a team or form a team at the workshop. Successful models include after-school fishing clubs, summer enrichment classes, school-family events and Boy Scout merit badge training.

Workshop fees

Unless otherwise noted, these workshops are free. However, this is a cost to provide them. For that reason, we call upon your better angels to notify us as soon as your plans change so we can offer your spot to someone on the waiting list. If you sign up, please show up.

Angler R3 Instructor Training & Certification Workshop Schedule

We are planning these workshops:

Date and Time Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
County Juneau
Community Wisconsin Dells
Place Upham Woods Learning Center
Address: N194 County Rd. N, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Registration Deadline Register here before Monday, Dec. 5.
Audience Adults who want to teach others how to fish.
Class Size This class is limited to 20 people. Reserve your seat and register now!
Contact: Theresa Stabo, (608) 577-6332 or
Cal Sinclair, (608) 419-2078.
Date and Time Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
County Milwaukee
Community West Allis
Place Greenfield Park Pavilion
Address: 2028 S. 124th ST, West Allis, WI 53227
Registration Deadline Registration materials coming soon. Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 19.
Audience Adults who want to teach others how to fish.
Class Size This class is limited to 15 people. Reserve your seat and register now!
Contact: Theresa Stabo, (608) 577-6332 or
Cal Sinclair, (608) 419-2078.

Loaner gear

Tackle Loaner Program

No fishing rod? No problem. We have fishing equipment you can borrow at several DNR offices and state parks and facilities. There is no charge to borrow the equipment – enjoy your day fishing in Wisconsin and return the equipment in the condition you received it (or better) so that the next person can enjoy it.

Check out the fishing equipment contacts page for information on who to contact to find out exactly what gear is available near you. If you have general questions about the tackle loaner program, contact Theresa Stabo at 608-577-6332.

Available gear

While special lures and fresh bait are not provided, we generally have the following basic equipment at most sites:

Family Fishing with loaner gear
Using Loaner Gear
  • Closed-face fishing rods and reels
  • Open-face rods and reels
  • Casting plugs
  • Bobbers
  • Hooks, lines and sinkers

In addition to fishing equipment, some sites (but not all) have fish printing materials, knot-tying practice equipment, Backyard Bass (a casting game) and other educational resources like Fish Packs [PDF]. Fish Packs are stocked with games, stories and activities that help youngsters learn about Wisconsin fish. Check one out or download the link for ideas to create your own. Inquire when you contact or visit a loaner site to see what they offer.

Keep in mind

Before you plan a fishing trip around loaner equipment, know that:

  • equipment is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and
  • you may borrow equipment for up to one week unless demand is low in your area. Ask the contact in your area if an extension is possible.

Follow the Golden Rule

Please return the loaner equipment in the condition you would like it to be when you borrow it.

  • Make proper handling and care of equipment part of your angler or fishing education program.
  • If the equipment was damaged, return all the parts with a note explaining what happened.
  • Instructions to fix a tangled reel [PDF].

The most popular time for borrowing the equipment is also the busiest time for our field staff - spring and early summer. Please help them out by returning the equipment clean and in good working order. If something breaks -- which sometimes happens -- fix it if you can, or bring the problem to our staff's attention so the next group will have functional equipment. Your help with maintenance frees up our field staff for stocking fish and working on habitat projects.

Adopt a fishing tackle loaner site

Many tackle loaner sites would welcome help with equipment maintenance. This would be a great volunteer service project for scouts, students, fishing clubs or anyone who'd like to pitch in and ensure that our gear is in shape for beginner anglers. Materials will be provided for re-spooling and general clean-up. Loaner sites that want help are marked with a VM. Locate the site nearest you on the fishing equipment contacts page and call them to find out how you can help. Thank you!

Clinics

Clinics

COVID-19 UPDATE:

Group sizes vary and may be limited to promote social distancing. Participants are encouraged to practice social distancing, frequent hand washing and wear a face covering if social distancing cannot be maintained. All programs will be outdoors. If you are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you refrain from participating in this program.

Throughout the year, the Department of Natural Resources works with local parks departments, fishing clubs and organizations to host fishing clinics and other events. Thanks to all clinic hosts and sponsors!

Upcoming Clinics

Southeast Wisconsin 
County: Milwaukee
Date: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023
Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Clinics begin at 9 a.m.
The last clinic starts at 2 p.m.
Places:

Seven County Parks
Check out the flyer for the list of parks where ponds will be stocked with hungry fish.

Target age: Kids ages 15 and under
Description:

30th Annual Kids' Ice Fishing Clinics
Hands-on fishing instruction by members of local fishing clubs on these topics.

  • Ice safety & equipment use
  • Fish identification & regulations
  • Fishing techniques 
  • Knot tying
  • Loaner gear is available - bring your own if you have it
  • Sites are wheelchair accessible
  • Young children must be accompanied by an adult
Sponsors:
  • Wisconsin Council of Sport Fishing Organizations
  • Hunger Task Force Fish Hatchery
  • Milwaukee County Parks
  • Department of Natural Resources
Note:

No pre-registration is necessary, but to accommodate groups of 20 or more, call 414-416-0591.

Contact: Laura Schmidt, Fisheries Biologist, 414-416-0591 or call the
Fishing Hotline, 414-263-8494.
Southeast Wisconsin Counties
Counties: Milwaukee, Washington, Waukesha
Date: Saturday, April 15, 2023
Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Clinics begin at 9 a.m.
The last clinic starts at 2 p.m.
Places:

Several County Parks
Watch for a flyer this coming spring for the list of parks where ponds will be stocked with hungry fish.

Target age: Kids ages 15 and under
Description:

38th Annual Kids' Fishing Clinics - rain or shine.
Hands-on fishing instruction by members of local fishing clubs on these topics:

  • Safety & equipment use
  • Fish identification & regulations
  • Fishing techniques & casting
  • Knot tying
  • Fish cleaning and cooking demos at some locations
  • Loaner gear is available - bring your own if you have it
  • Sites are wheelchair accessible
  • Young children must be accompanied by an adult
Sponsors:
  • Wisconsin Council of Sport Fishing Organizations
  • Hunger Task Force Fish Hatchery
  • Milwaukee, Washington and Waukesha County Parks
  • Department of Natural Resources
Note:

No pre-registration is necessary, but to accommodate groups of 20 or more, call 414-416-0591.

Contact: Laura Schmidt, Fisheries Biologist, 414-416-0591 or call the
Fishing Hotline, 414-263-8494.

More clinics on the horizon

Watch for information on other upcoming clinics.

Don't forget about Free Fishing Weekend, always the first weekend in June and the third weekend in January - no license required. Mark your calendars now to plan your next Free Fishing Weekend outing for your organization or friends and family:

  • Free Fishing Weekend - Winter, Jan. 21 & 22, 2023
  • Free Fishing Weekend - Summer, June 2 & 3, 2023

¿Habla usted español?

Necesitamos pescadores que hablen español para patrocinar o ayudar en nuestras clínicas de pesca. Estos eventos enseñan a pescar a gente de todas edades.

Por favor déjenos saber que usted habla español si usted va ofrecer una clínica de pesca, o si va ayudar como voluntario, e incluiremos un aviso que “se habla español” en el anuncio de estos eventos en nuestro sitio web.

Koj puas paub hais lus hmoob?

Peb xav yuav neeg uas paub hais lub hmoob los qhuas qhia neeg txhua lub noob nyoog txog nuv ntses. Yog nej muaj lus xav qhuas qhias thiab txawj hais lub hmoob, thov nej qhia rau peb paub. Yog nej xav tuaj pab thiab paub lub hmoob, thov nej qhia rau peb thiab. Peb mam li tshaj tawm rau ntawm peb lub Web site kom txhua tus hnov tias muaj neeg uas paub hais lus hmoob tuaj qhia txog nuv ntses.

Travel Wisconsin lists special events and opportunities on its website:
Fishing [exit DNR].

Plan a fishing clinic

Anytime is a good time to start planning a fishing clinic. Download the Fishing Clinic Planner [PDF] to help get yourself organized. Return your completed form to the Angler Education Office at the DNR. Contact the Angler R3 Office if you would like a planning form mailed to you.

Participants 16 years or older likely will need fishing licenses to fish at most events, unless they occur on Free Fishing Weekend. Call contacts for complete information.

Borrow a rod, keep the memories

No fishing pole? No worries. Contact a Tackle Loaner site at one of several state parks and DNR regional offices to borrow one. Pack up the family or call your friends and head to the water.

Fishing Base Camp

Get ready to fish, safely

No matter if your fishing base camp is at home, at school, or a combination, Badgers know that we all need to keep working together to stay healthy. We're all keeping our distance, staying at least one fishing pole length from other anglers, and taking care to wash our hands, often. Here is information to get you started.

Base camp resources

Teachers, parents and leaders – look here!

Check out these classroom and camp resources where math, science, social studies, and writing meet the great outdoors, close to home in these engaging lesson plans. Many reinforce state academic standards and will get kids out in the backyard or to nearby waters, while sneakily keeping their academic skills up to snuff.

Junior Angler is designed for anglers in grades 4 - 8 and Hook, Line & Thinker is geared for grades 7 -12. Mix and match to suit your anglers' needs.

Messed up your reel? Here's how to fix it.

Into the Outdoors

Into the Outdoors [exit DNR] creates pathways to environmental awareness and outdoor lifestyles. Explore the underwater mysteries of fish and fishing right here! [exit DNR]