DNR: Anglers can fish for free in Wisconsin this weekend

Anglers can enjoy free fishing in Wisconsin this weekend during Free Fishing Weekend.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering Free Fishing Weekend on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 to allow Wisconsinites to enjoy the ice fishing experience without having to purchase a fishing license or salmon stamp.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for people of all ages to try ice fishing without the added step and expense of getting a fishing license,” said Theresa Stabo, DNR Angler Outreach Program Specialist. “If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to wander among the ice shanty towns on Wisconsin lakes, this is your chance. Bundle up the family or rally friends to fish the ‘hardwater’ and find out. If the bite is on, you might even catch a tasty panfish or walleye dinner.”

Regular fishing regulations still apply, which can be found HERE. Additionally, anglers cannot fish spring tour ponds during the winter fishing weekend.

The Wisconsin DNR recommends anglers dress warmly and bring safety gear, like:

  • Warm layers that are water-resistant
  • Sturdy waterproof boots with spike-style creepers for traction
  • Extra hat and gloves
  • Rescue throw rope
  • Ice claws

The DNR is also asking people to practice responsible catch-and-release if you aren’t planning to eat the fish:

  • Reduce reel time with fish
  • Keep fish in the water as much as possible
  • Use a rubber net and wet hands or gloves (if possible)
  • Keep handling time to 60 seconds or less and keep unhooking tools readily available
  • Cut the line if a fish is deeply hooked
  • Treat fish gently – use both hands when handling fish and place them in the water to recover before releasing

Officials say the next Free Fishing Weekend is set for June 1-2, 2024.

CLICK HERE to purchase a Wisconsin fishing license and enjoy catching fish outside of those weekends.