DNR Events: Free Fishing Weekend, advanced ice fishing clinic and more

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DNR Get Involved - February 2020

cross-country skiers on trail with lanterns lit

Here are a few ways to get out and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources in February. For a full list of events, see the Department of Natural Resources calendar at Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar


Experience #MiFreeFishingWeekend Feb. 15-16

boy ice fishing holding pole with fish on it

Grab a fishing rod and enjoy some of the finest fishing Michigan has to offer during the 2020 Winter Free Fishing Weekend. This year’s weekend will be Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16. On those two days, everyone – residents and nonresidents alike – can fish without a license. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Additionally, that weekend the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and more than 1,300 DNR-managed boating access sites.

Several locations will host official 2020 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events perfect for the whole family, including:

In addition, no fishing license is required and the Recreation Passport fee will be waived Monday, Feb. 17, to coincide with the DNR's changeover to a new license sales system

Find more information about Free Fishing Weekend at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.


Learn advanced ice fishing techniques with Outdoor Skills Academy

ice fisherman on lake holding large fish

If you’d like to step up your ice fishing game with pointers from the pros, we can help.

The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy will offer the Advanced Hard Water School ice fishing clinic at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac Feb. 21-23. This three-day class will cover specific topics – each student will pick a topic of interest and will be assigned a pro fisherman from Team USA, HT Enterprises, Clam Outdoors, Vexilar or Ice Force – and will include time out on the ice and in the classroom. Cost is $75, which includes some meals, bait and door prizes/goody bags.

Sign up now for Outdoor Skills Academy classes coming up in March, which include:

  • Hard Water School (ice fishing class) at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac, March 7-8. This two-day class covers everything from how to set up equipment and how and where to fish to ice safety and rules and regulations, with a focus on techniques for panfish, walleye and pike. Cost is $25.
  • Bluebird and Nest Box Basics at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, March 14. Learn how to attract bluebirds to your open spaces with carefully maintained nest boxes. We will cover tips and tricks to discourage predators and parasites, the pros and cons of different nesting box designs and how to mount them, where to locate boxes for success and how to monitor your boxes. Cost is $40 and includes lunch, a nest box kit, a book and other materials.

The Outdoor Skills Academy offers in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities at locations around the state.

See a full calendar of classes at Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills.


February fun at Outdoor Adventure Center

Whether you live in the Detroit area or are planning a visit to the Motor City, there’s plenty of fun on tap at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in February, from archery to citizen science projects to nature programs for kids. Check out the OAC event calendar for more details about February programs.

Beat cabin fever with snowshoeing and more

State parks across Michigan will host snowshoe hikes and cross-country skiing events – some of them by lantern light – throughout February. Check out our winter event calendar, and learn more about other cold-weather ways to enjoy Michigan’s outdoors, at Michigan.gov/WinterFun.