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Fish for free this weekend in Minnesota, Wisconsin

In Minnesota, you have to have a kid along; in Wisconsin, anyone can fish for free.

ice fishing
Both Minnesota and Wisconsin offer free ice fishing this weekend. In Wisconsin anyone can fish without a license. In Minnesota, you need to bring along a child 15 or under.
Bob King / 2018 file / Duluth News Tribune
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Minnesota’s “Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend’’ is Saturday, Jan. 15, through Monday, Jan. 17, when Minnesota adults can go ice fishing for free — with no fishing license needed — if they are fishing with a child 15 years old or younger.

Minnesotans 15 years old or younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year.

“Ice fishing is lots of fun for kids and adults alike. There’s nothing quite like making your way onto a frozen lake, drilling a hole through the ice and catching fish,” said Benji Kohn, volunteer mentor program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “If you’re interested in giving ice fishing a try, learning the basics is really doable. We have helpful information on our website to get you started.”

Go to dnr.state.mn.us/gofishing/learn-ice-fish.html to learn more about ice fishing.

Always check local ice conditions before heading out to a lake or river. Visit the DNR ice safety page, mndnr.gov/icesafety , for ice safety guidelines.


Fishing has slowed in the Twin Ports harbor, but early and late walleye bite is still happening.

In Wisconsin, everyone can fish for free Jan. 15-16. No fishing license or trout and salmon stamps are required.

Anglers can fish anywhere there is an open season. In both states all other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species.

You may be able to gain use of free loaner fishing gear in Wisconsin. Go to the DNR's Fishing Equipment Loan webpage at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/anglereducation/loanerContacts.html to find a tackle loaner site with ice fishing equipment near you. Locations with ice fishing equipment will have an “IF” next to their name. Basic gear is available, but sites do not lend out ice augers. Hours and available equipment vary, so contact the site in advance and plan ahead to pick up the gear.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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