By Raymond Neupert/South Metro Observer

Lakes across Wisconsin are all set up and ready for lucky anglers to get some big catches for the state’s first winter-themed free fishing weekend

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is adding the winter months to their annual program, and it’s set for Jan. 20-21. Officials say the weekend offers a good chance for anglers to hit the lakes and find some tasty fish to bring home, even when it’s cold out.

DNR R3 coordinator Theresa Stabo is hoping the weekend will bring not only new anglers, but also the fishing enthusiasts who haven’t been out on the water in a while.

“We really want to encourage people who really haven’t experienced ice fishing to come out to give it a try,” Stabo said. “We have about 20 sites that have ice fishing equipment that people can borrow. And we also have about a half dozen fishing clinics lined up around the state.”

She says it’s part of an effort to make sure that people that don’t have access to equipment or training still have a chance to get out on the ice.

The free fishing weekends are part of a statewide effort to get families out to enjoy Wisconsin’s waters and natural bounty, and to recruit and recover anglers who have let their licenses lapse over the past few years.

Since youth anglers never need a license to catch fish, Stabo says this is a way to get family members out fishing as well.

“Mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa, or aunts or uncles, or whoever is shepherding those kids out there, they will learn how to do this too so that they can continue to do it next weekend,” Stabo said.

Of course, Stabo says, there are no guarantees anglers will be successful in making a catch or two.

“Fish and catching are of course two separate activities, but we hope people get out and enjoy the nice weather and make some new friends out on the ice.”

Find out more about free fishing weekend, and find a special clinic site near you by heading to the DNR’s website and clicking on Free Fishing Weekend.