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Got license?
Give yourself the license to relax and catch some memories while you're at it.
Regulations
Know the regulations to make your fishing more enjoyable.
Places to fish
Wisconsin offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Give them a try!
Get started
Get the basic information you need to get on the water and try your luck.
Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Theresa Stabo
R3 Coordinator
Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation
608-577-6332

Fishing Wisconsin - Angler & aquatic education Free Fishing Weekend - January 20–21, 2018

Host a Free Fishing Weekend event!

Ice Fishing

There's no such thing as bad weather,
only poor clothing. - Norwegian Proverb

Download and complete the Free Fishing Weekend Planning Forms [PDF] to give us the details, so that we can post your event on this site.

Remember to plan for adults who may have missed the fishing boat as kids! We’ll post your events as we learn of them. Of course, you can just take your friends fishing without telling us, but we love to hear your stories about how you coaxed your pals out for a free weekend of fishing.

Fish almost anywhere!

Fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend. Most waters of the state are included, except for spring trout ponds (Review the trout regulations; wherever you see a season date listed for a specific body of water, you'd be fine, although some waters may be catch and release only.) All other inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River are open for you to test your skills and try your luck. Remember, all usual regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force. Please exercise caution before heading out on the ice.

Attend a Free Fishing Weekend event!

Chippewa County
Community: Chippewa Falls, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: Noon to 3 p.m.
Place: Glen Loch, Chippewa Falls WI.
Directions: Park in lot at the Ojibwa Golf & Bowl, 8140 136th St. Fishing will be directly below the parking lot.
Target Age: Novices of any age, new to ice fishing.
Get Hooked! Learn to Ice Fish!
  • Free fishing pole, jig and bait to all participants (while supplies last).
  • Receive instruction on how to ice fish.
  • Watch fish cleaning demonstrations.
  • Sample some fish, cooked to perfection.
  • No registration required.
  • Just come with your smile.
  • And of course, dress for the weather.
Sponsors:
  • Chippewa Valley Family YMCA
  • Chippewa Rod & Gun Club
  • Local WI DNR Wardens
Contact: For more information contact Ron Bakken [exit DNR], 715-723-7770.
Dane County
Community: Madison, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. to Noon
Place: Brittingham Park, Monona Bay
Directions: Near the corner of Park Street and W. Washington Avenue.
Target Age: Kids and their parents, and other special adults in their lives.
Kids' Ice Fishing Day
  • Yahara Fishing Club members stand ready to help get you started ice fishing.
  • The first 300 kids receive a free fishing pole and bait.
  • A free hotdog lunch and hot chocolate follows the fishing.
Sponsor: Yahara Fishing Club
Contact: For more information contact Phil James [exit DNR].
Community: Marshall, WI
Date: January 20, 2017
Time: 6 a.m. to Midnight
Place: Fireman's Park; 309 Park Street, Marshall, WI
Target Age: All ages are welcome!
Marshall Lion's 15th Annual Ice Fisheree Festival
  • Ice skating.
  • Outhouse races
  • Coyote and rabbit hunt tournament - appropriate licenses required.
  • Raffles for great prizes.
  • Broomball tournament
  • DJ and more!
Sponsors:
  • The Barrel Inn
  • Badger Pub
  • Tom's Guns
  • The Fox
  • Chatty's Pit Stop
  • AKJ Spirits
Contact: For more information contact Shelly Allness [exit DNR], 608-630-4830.
Fond du Lac County
Community: Near New Prospect, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. to Noon
Place: Mauthe Lake State Recreation Area Picnic Shelter
Directions: The shelter is located off County Road GGG south of County Road SS near New Prospect.
Target Age: All ages are welcome. However, this program is best for people over 6 years old.
Winter Fishing Tricks
  • We will start inside 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 19.
  • Special surprises await all who pre-register.
  • A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your vehicle.
Sponsor: Wisconsin DNR, Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
Contact: For more information contact Jackie Scharfenberg , 920-533-8322.
Oneida County
Community: Three Lakes, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: Maple Lake Public Beach, Three Lakes, WI.
Directions: Off of HWY 45; here's a map [exit DNR].
Target Age: Family-friendly, all welcome!
Family Ice-fishing Outing
  • The dads of Three Lakes Evangelical Free Church will provide ice fishing instruction.
  • Come one - come all!
Sponsor: Three Lakes Evangelical Free Church
Contact: For more information contact Bob Koch [exit DNR], 707-318-5292.
Community: Rhinelander, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: Perch Lake County Park, near Rhinelander
Directions: From Rhinelander, take Co Hwy K West (7 miles). Travel south on Washburn Lake Rd (1 mile).
Go East on Trout Creek Road (1/2 mile) and turn southeast on County Park Road (1/4 mile).
Target Age: School-age youth and their families.
Warm up with 4-H Ice Fishing
  • Park at County Park shelter and walk onto Perch Lake.
  • Jig poles, bait and hot chocolate will be provided.
  • Perch Lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout and also contains Bluegill and Black Crappies.
  • Fireplace in unheated shelter.
  • X-Country Ski & snowshoe trails from the trailhead.
Sponsor: Oneida County 4-H
Contact: For more information contact Bonnie Tillman [exit DNR], 715-365-2750.
Polk County
Community: Luck, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: Noon to 3 p.m.
Place: Rainbow Lake within Straight Lake State Park.
Directions: Take Highway 48 east out of Luck to 120th St.
Go North on 120th St until you reach park entrance.
Rainbow Lake can be seen from parking lot.
Target Age: Families and adults who have never fished.
A fun-filled afternoon of fishing!
  • Holes will be drilled.
  • Loaner jigging sticks and tip-ups will be ready.
  • Bait available.
  • Come dressed warmly to have a good time.
  • A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your vehicle.
Sponsor: Wisconsin DNR
Contact: For more information contact Colleen Tolliver or Matthew Densow , 715-483-3747 or 715-431-0724.
Sauk County
Community: Baraboo, WI
Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: Devil's Lake State Park, S5975 Park Rd.
Directions: Devil's Lake State Park, meet at the North Shore Boat Launch
Target Age: Novices of any age, all children must be accompanied by an adult; adults are especially welcome!
Ice-Fishing Basics
  • Bundle up to learn the basics of how to ice fish.
  • Join Devil's Lake volunteers and staff who will help you try to catch a fish through the ice!
  • All equipment and bait are provided.
  • Dress warm as there will be no shanties, but there will be a fire to warm up by on shore.
  • This activity is weather-dependent and will be canceled if ice conditions are not safe.
  • A Wisconsin State Park sticker is required on your vehicle.
Sponsors:
  • Friends of Devil's Lake State Park
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Contact: For more information contact Park Naturalist Sue Johansen , 608-356-8301 Ext. 140.
Washburn County
Community: Spooner, WI
Dates and Times:
  • Classroom Session: Friday, January 19, 2018, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Fishing Outing: Saturday, January 20, 2018, 9 a.m. to Noon
Places:
  • Classroom Session: Spooner DNR Service Center - 810 West Maple Street
  • Fishing Outing: Spooner Lake
Target Age: Ages 5 to 105! Kids must be accompanied by an adult.
Learn to Ice Fish!
  • Learn the basics of ice fishing in the warmth of the DNR Service Center Friday evening.
  • Meet up on the ice Saturday morning to try your new skills.
  • Ice safety and appropriate gear and tackle.
  • Knot tying
  • Fish identification
  • How to fillet your catch
  • Loaner equipment, tackle and bait will be provided.
  • Download the flyer [PDF]
Sponsors:
  • Friends into Spooner Hatchery, F.I.S.H.
  • Wisconsin DNR
Contact: To sign up contact Amos Melton , 715-645-2526.

Dates to remember

Free Fishing Weekends are always held the third full weekend in January and the first full weekend in June. This coming winter it will be January 20 – 21; next summer it will be June 2 – 3, 2018.

Need fishing gear?

No fishing gear? No problem. We have fishing poles that you can borrow at many state parks and DNR offices. Contact a Tackle Loaner site at one of several state parks and DNR regional offices to borrow one. Call the DNR staffer or partner listed for each site to find out what specific equipment is available and to arrange to pick it up.

Get a license

New to fishing, but want to make it a habit after Free Fishing Weekend? Try our "First-time buyer" resident license for only $5. Discounts for non-residents too!

Here is more information about purchasing a fishing license so you'll be ready to fish any time of the year!

More fishing opportunities

The Department of Tourism lists events at The Great Outdoors - Fishing, [exit DNR].

Last revised: Thursday January 18 2018