State holding free fishing weekend Feb. 18-19

ALPENA — Anglers can try their hand at any of the state’s more than 11,000 lakes during the 31st annual Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 18-19.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources began this event in 1986 with the summer free fishing weekend. However in 1984 it was expanded to the winter months for anglers to try ice-fishing, DNR communications specialist Elyse Walters said.

“Whether you are an experienced angler or an amueatur we encouratge you to get out on the ice,” she said. “And then head out the next weekend and get a license.”

During the weekend resident and nonresidents alike can try out any lake they would like. However all other rules and regulations apply during the weekend.

Walters said the weekend is a way to promote the state’s abundant aquatic resources as well as get people on the lake who otherwise might not go.

Also included in the weekend is a waiver for the state’s recreation passport. This means anyone can go and explore the over 100 Michigan state parks with some even having activities planned for the weekend, Walters said.

“It is more of an event to show people the resources and maybe then they will buy the license once they see all the opportunities available to them,” DNR fish biologist Tim Cwalinski said.

For more information or to see a list of the official events visit

Tyler Winowiecki can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Tyler on Twitter tw_alpenanews.