Free fishing today, Sunday in Wisconsin

Outdoors report

IRON MOUNTAIN — This is Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin.

State park admission fees, fishing licenses and trail passes are all waived today and Sunday for residents and non-residents.

This is the perfect time of year for small and largemouth bass, panfish and northern pike to be active, said Justine Hasz, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources bureau director of fisheries management.

“If you haven’t fished in a while or never fished, Free Fun Weekend is a great chance to give it a try,” she said.

The Wisconsin DNR is conducting its annual Drain Campaign this weekend. It focuses on the importance for boaters and anglers to always drain their livewells and fish buckets before leaving boat launches and fishing access points.

Draining is one of the important steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. In addition to draining livewells and buckets, boaters should pull the drain plugs on their boat and tip their motor straight up and down to drain any local water before securing it for the drive ahead.

Boat inspectors from Clean Boats, Clean Waters will be at boat launches across the state promoting draining and handing out blue boat towels printed with the “Drain Your Catch” message.

Today is the opener for the muskellunge possession season in Michigan. Whether a trip results in a catch or not, the DNR asks anglers to share details through an online survey available at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/about/newsroom/releases/2023/06/01/muskellunge-survey-2023.

Next weekend is “Three Free” weekend in Michigan, when residents and nonresidents can grab a fishing rod, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites — all free of charge.

With very little rain during May, conditions remain dry. Debris burning is prohibited across the region and the fire danger is high.

The Michigan DNR reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Little Bay de Noc: Smallmouth bass fishing was good. Anglers reported some spawning activity in the shallows. Walleye anglers reported fair to good fishing. Anglers trolling or casting crawlers were successful. Some anglers also found success while trolling crankbaits.

Big Bay de Noc: Smallmouth bass anglers reported good fishing. Anglers targeted emerging vegetation, shallow water flats and rocks. Walleye anglers experienced slow fishing. A few anglers contacted fish near Fishdam River.

Manistique: At Indian Lake State Park, the walleye bite was slow but anglers were catching a few on leeches.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Fishing pressure increased, and anglers were able to find some lake trout, whitefish and salmon during various times of the day. Some of the last week’s weather prevented longer fishing trips however some anglers were still able to wrestle up some lake trout before winds picked up. Fish were caught mostly using artificial lures and while trolling. Trolling depths varied throughout the week but during the mornings shallow waters worked best.

Les Cheneaux/Detour: Anglers were catching a few lake trout around Mackinac Island and were also catching pike in the Hessel area. There were a lot of pike sightings, but few were caught. There were also perch anglers at the marina in Hessel catching a few perch, but the bite was pretty slow. In Detour, anglers were trolling for Atlantic salmon and were having a little bit of luck catching them suspended. Some Chinook salmon were caught as well as lake trout and a steelhead around the lighthouse area. Scott’s Bay was the bumper boat area with anglers targeting and catching a few walleye.

Big Traverse Bay/South Portage Canal: Lake trout were the main catch on days when anglers were able to get on the water. A few days this past week anglers had tough access to the lake with high winds. Anglers who did catch fish found luck trolling artificial lures from 10 to 170 feet. Fish were found in many depths of water and during most of the day. Although fish were caught during the day, the majority of fish were caught in the morning hours.

Munising Bay: Boat anglers continued to report good catches of coho with mixed bag of an occasional splake and Chinook salmon. Some smaller year classes of coho were observed this past week but in general still nice quality coho. Water temperatures increased into the mid 40’s offshore. Lake trout anglers were doing well with nice eating sized fish averaging 2 to 3 pounds. Shore fishing remained slow.

Grand Marais: Boat anglers reported great catches of coho and lake trout. Fish were just off first break however with warmer temperatures will start to move into deeper water. Whitefish anglers reported slow to fair catches off the pier.


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