DNR offers free fishing weekend

Typically, you need a fishing license, trout stamp or salmon stamp to drop a line. But this weekend, anyone can fish in Wisconsin’s waters without one.
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 8:11 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Typically, you need a fishing license, trout stamp or salmon stamp to drop a line. But this weekend, anyone can fish in Wisconsin’s waters without one.

Anglers young and old took advantage of the cold day to ice fish. Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekends are held the third full weekend of every January.

John Homulus passed on the icy tradition to his two kids on Saturday, bringing them to Lake Monona for their first time ice fishing.

“This was kind of our first free weekend to try this out,” Homulus said. “I told them on the way here, ‘It’s not going to be perfect. We’re going to learn from this and the next time we go it’ll be a little better.’”

Meanwhile, one fisher who has been hooked on ice fishing for the last 55 years said beginners could use an expert to show them the ropes.

”I would go with somebody that’s done it,” Bob Blackley said. “There’s a lot of little nuances, a lot of little tricks that you can do to improve your chances of catching fish.”

If you don’t have an expert by your side -- you can still join in on the fun. To borrow gear, Wisconsin has more than 50 tackle loaner sites with rentable ice angler supplies. The DNR also has a list of boat launches and shore fishing access points.

While anyone can fish without a license this weekend, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources explains all other fishing regulations are still in place, including catch limits.

The DNR also encourages ice anglers to “pack out what you’ve packed in,” meaning anything you leave on the ice will end up in the water by spring.

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