Enjoy Free Fishing Weekend

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites everyone to join in Free Fishing Weekend, Jan. 20-21, 2024.

During Free Fishing Weekend, most Wisconsin waters are included, except for spring trout ponds. Review information about the early trout season and the trout regulations for clarification as you plan your event – some waters may be catch and release only.

All other fishing regulations, including size and bag limits and species restrictions, will also be enforced. This includes Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

Don’t have your own gear? No problem! Visit the DNR’s Tackle Loaner webpage to find loaner sites with ice fishing equipment. Locations with ice fishing equipment will have an “IF” next to their name. Basic gear is available; however, sites do not loan ice augers. Hours and available equipment will vary. Contact the site to plan your gear pick up. 


WHAT: Free Fishing Weekend

WHEN: Jan. 20-21, 2024

WHERE: Statewide

WHO: Anyone who wants to:

  • Participate in a classic Wisconsin tradition.
  • Learn to embrace winter.
  • Catch a tasty panfish or walleye dinner from a nearby lake.
  • Plan a fun outing for family or friends.

WHY: You don’t need a fishing license on Free Fishing Weekend! It’s the perfect opportunity to give ice fishing a try.

Ice Fishing Safety Tips: 

  • Remember no ice is 100% safe.
  • Check ice conditions before heading out. Contact local bait shops/outfitters for daily updates. 
  • Always let someone know where you are fishing and when you plan return. 
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a personal flotation device or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
  • Take an extra pair of mittens or gloves so your hands can remain dry and warm.
  • Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice.
  • Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas.
  • Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
  • The DNR does not monitor ice. Please check with local fishing clubs and outfitters for local ice conditions.