Michigan Department of Natural Resources

On Saturday, Feb. 16, and Sunday, Feb. 17, everyone in Michigan – including residents and non-residents – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

These two days make up the Winter Free Fishing Weekend – an annual effort to promote Michigan’s plentiful fishing opportunities. While many individuals and families will bundle up and head out to fish for free on their own, the Department of Natural Resources is pleased to point out that there are numerous organized events scheduled throughout the state to celebrate the weekend as well. Some of these events include:

  • Catch Us If You Can at Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake and Lake St. Helen in Roscommon County
    Feb. 16, all day
    This event encourages participants to catch one of the nearly 100 tagged fish on three participating lakes. Anglers who catch tagged fish will win prizes.
  • Ellsworth Shiverfest in Antrim County
    Feb. 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day
    This annual outdoor festival highlights winter activities, including fishing, snowshoeing and sledding.
  • Ice Fishing Class at Runkle Lake in Iron County
    Feb. 17, from 9  a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (CST)

    This free class is offered to youth and adults. Bait will be supplied by the DNR and equipment will be available on a limited basis. DNR staff will provide instruction on techniques and methods for fishing in the area.
  • Ice Fishing Derby at Seven Lakes State Park in Oakland County
    Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    This event, sponsored by the Izaak Walton League of America, Fenton Chapter and Seven Lakes State Park, will provide some equipment and lots of prizes. Please note a Recreation Passport is required for park entry.

Please note all events are subject to weather conditions.

There are many other Winter Free Fishing Weekend events scheduled in various locations throughout the state, including in the counties of Bay, Clinton, Gogebic, Ingham, Monroe, Montcalm, Ogemaw, Presque Isle, Tuscola, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

Michigan has celebrated the Winter Free Fishing Weekend annually since 1994. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a natural match.