ESCANABA - This weekend anglers will be able to enjoy Michigan's Free Fishing Weekend. While people of any age can enjoy the fishing opportunities produced by the free fishing weekend, events tailored to children can make the weekend a fun and educational family affair.
For the two day period and anglers can enjoy fishing on the Great Lakes as well as inland lakes and rivers around the state without purchasing a license.
"We waive the license fees for residents and out of state visitors," said Jessica Mistack, Northern Lake Michigan Management Unit supervisor for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Division. "All of our regulations still apply."
For many, the weekend is a free way to introduce children to nature and the sport of fishing. Local events for young anglers strive to make fishing fun, even for the least experienced child.
The U.S. Forest Service will be hosting the 22nd Annual Kids Fishing Day today from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Camp 7 Lake Campground on County Road 442. The free event will feature two fishing ponds for ages 16 and under. There will also be casting contests, free food, raffle prizes, face painting, and Smokey Bear.
Registration for the Kids Fishing Day begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. in the picnic area. The event typically draws between 250 and 300 children each year.
All children who participate in the event will receive a free Kids Fishing Day t-shirt and a goodie bag with items donated by fishing tackle manufacturers.
The annual Thomas A. Vietzke Memorial Children's Fishing Derby is also today at Gladstone's Van Cleve Park. The derby is hosted by Gladstone Masonic Lodge 396 and Delta Masonic Lodge 195.
Children between the ages of 4 and 14 who are accompanied by an adult are invited to participate in the derby. Children must provide their own fishing gear. Registration for the event is free and will take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
While divisions may change based on the number of participating children, approximate age divisions for the derby will be 4 to 6, 7 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 14. Every child will receive a prize and trophies will be awarded at 3 p.m. There will also be a free lunch for children and their accompanying adults during the event.
"Both events will have prizes, free food, and are only possible due to the many, many, many local sponsors and volunteers," said Mistack.
Adults and children who plan to take advantage of the Free Fishing Weekend should familiarize themselves with the Michigan fishing regulations. A digital guide to the regulations can be found online at www.eregulations.com/michigan/fishing.