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DNR encourages newbies to try ice fishing
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It’s among the most optimistic of sports—drillling a hole in an ice-covered lake and hoping dinner swims by—and now the Department of Natural Resources is inviting newbies to join in the fun.

Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish anywhere in the state without a fishing license next weekend during the state's second annual winter free fishing weekend.

"Free fishing weekend is a great time to discover what ice fishing's all about in Wisconsin—fun, friends, family and, of course, the fish," Theresa Stabo, Wisconsin's angler education director, said. "Safe ice allows you to walk to spots you'd need a boat to reach during the open water season and nearly 20 of our tackle loaner sites have ice fishing equipment for you to borrow. All you need is a friend to help you drill a hole to get started fishing and develop a new reason to love Wisconsin winters."

John Gozdzialski, the DNR’s northern region director, urged participants to have some free fun, but be safe.

“Always approach ice as unsafe,” he said. “If the ice is two inches or less, stay off the ice; four inches are enough for ice fishing on foot. It takes five inches for a snowmobile, or ATV, eight to 12 inches for a small car or pickup and 12 to 15 inches for a medium track.

“Before you go out, make sure you are dressed properly, have a charged cell phone, personal flotation device or float jacket and ice rescue claws” Gozdzialski said. “ If you’re fishing alone, make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.”

The beauty of ice fishing is that it can be a solitary, serene experience done alone on a turned-over pail, with a friend or family member in a pop-up shelter, or a social gathering in a fully equipped ice fishing house.

“I have enjoyed all the options, but none more enjoyable than ice fishing over the years with my now-grown three sons,” Gozdzialski said. “We have our favorite lakes for bluegill, northern pike and walleye. When they were younger, they also chased tip-ups, competed for the biggest fish bragging rights, and when the fish weren’t biting, tossed the football around.”

No fishing license or Great Lakes salmon stamp is needed to fish any Wisconsin water. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and other boundary waters. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish anglers can keep and any seasons when anglers must release certain fish species.

About 110,000 more Wisconsin adults ages 16 and over reported ice fishing in 2010 than the previous decade. That’s an estimated 590,700 Wisconsinites, according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, ages 16 and over enjoying the hard-water season.


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Pelican Lake has been transformed into a village of ice fishing shanties. This photo was taken from Keeler’s Landing looking east into Muskie Bay.
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ANTIGO DAILY
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JOURNAL
EXPRESS
612 Superior Street,
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

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