Bundle Up And Drop A Line! It's Free Fishing Weekend In Michigan

February 16, 2019 - 10:30 am

DETROIT (WWJ) - If you've never been ice fishing, this weekend is your chance to try it for FREE.

It's Free Fishing Weekend across Michigan, with the Department of Natural Resources allowing both residents and non-residents to fish without a license on Saturday and Sunday. 

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes -- officials say there are plenty of opportunities to ice fish across the state..

"The further north you go in Michigan and then especially into the Upper Peninsula, there's lots of great areas where people go to target things like bluegill and northern pike and walleye and yellow perch -- which are our top four fish that people target in the winter," said DNR spokesperson Elyse Walter. "But really, it can be anything you want. You can find all kinds of little nooks and crannies throughout the state where you can drill a hole, stick a line in the water and hopefully catch something."

During this weekend, the DNR also will waive the regular Recreation Passport requirement for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks. 

"You don't need a boat, so a lot of times you can get to areas on a lake where you wouldn't be able to get to otherwise," said Walter. "It can be a lot of fun. There's often a social aspect to ice fishing and a lot of people like to do it in groups, whether you have a shanty or shelter or something like that. There's a lot of fun and excitement to being on the ice and being out when the weather's pleasant."

The annual fishing license fee for Michigan residents is $26; seniors pay $11.

While many people will bundle up and head out to fish on their own, there are several organized events already scheduled throughout the state, including:

  • OAC Outdoors – Michigan Free Fishing Weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. both days). Learn about proper ice-fishing equipment and safety practices at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. Equipment will be provided.
  • Free Ice-Fishing Day for Kids at Camp Pet-o-se-ga in Alanson (Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.). Join volunteers for plenty of ice-fishing instruction. Fishing gear, hot chocolate and hot dogs will be provided.
  • 10th Annual Wakefield Volunteer Fire Department Fishing Contest (Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This annual effort benefits the Wakefield Volunteer Fire Department and is fun for the whole family.

Check for events in your area by visiting Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.