‘Free’ weekends soon in Wisconsin, Michigan

Outdoors report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Next weekend is Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin. Fees are waived for fishing licenses, trail passes and admission to state parks.

“If you’ve never visited a state park, forest trail or recreation area, this is the perfect opportunity to explore the outdoors in our state,” said Steve Schmelzer, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources director of parks and recreation management.

Residents and non-residents will not be required to have a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps on June 1 and 2. All fishing regulations still apply.

In Michigan, Three Free Weekend will be held June 8 and 9. 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.

Wisconsin’s northern zone musky season opens today and runs through Dec. 31. Musky will likely be active in shallow vegetated bays, channels and on points just adjacent to shallow bays, the DNR said.

Now through Labor Day, conservation officers in Michigan will pass out coupons for a free McDonald’s ice-cream cone or apple slice package — valid at participating McDonald’s locations — to youth boaters who are seen properly wearing a life jacket. According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, 75% of boating deaths are due to drowning, and 85% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.

The Michigan DNR will temporarily close nearly a dozen facilities in Marquette and Baraga counties, primarily for road and parking area improvements, beginning next week. Most notably, Craig Lake State Park will be closed through June 17 for road improvements and cabin renovations.

A full list can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/about/newsroom/closures.

The DNR reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Little Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers reported mixed results. Those fishing the head of the bay had limited success, with most anglers catching undersized fish, as well as some eater-sized fish. Anglers fishing in the Escanaba River and by the mouth reported fair fishing, with anglers catching a few, generally in the 15- to 18-inch range. The bite window was short, often right at first and last light. Successful tactics anglers reported included trolling crawler harnesses or small crank baits as well as jigging with worms. Smallmouth anglers reported good fishing and were contacting fish near spawning areas.

Manistique: Some steelhead remained in the river, with anglers able to catch a few each trip. Anglers were getting bites when drifting beads and nymphs.

Ontonagon River: Reports show that respectable numbers of walleye were caught by those trolling and jigging alike.

Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: Angler reports show that coho salmon, brown trout and lake trout were caught in shallow waters while trolling.

Black River Harbor: Anglers reported catching coho salmon, brown trout and lake trout, all in low numbers. The fish that were being caught were found in shallow waters while trolling.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Anglers found success not only during trolling trips but with jigging trips as well. Jigging anglers caught lake trout and whitefish with both artificial and natural baits. Fish were caught mostly on bottom in depths ranging from 70 to 230 feet of water. Trolling anglers were able to catch lake trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout.

Marquette: Boats that made their way out in the lower harbor caught only a few coho salmon but found much better numbers of lake trout and Chinook salmon. Upper harbor anglers had good success when fishing for lake trout as long as the wind cooperated.

Au Train: Steelhead were reported to be done for the season. Anglers reported that Chinook salmon, brown trout and lake trout were now in full swing.

Munising: Anglers had increased luck with Chinook salmon while trolling Rapalas and spoons. There were reports of Chinook salmon that weighed just over 8 pounds being caught. Coho salmon fishing was fair, but most anglers were targeting Chinook.


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