Fishing … This word may conjure up a romantic snapshot of a sweet family, sitting in matching lawn chairs lakeside. A boy in a baseball cap, a girl in a tutu and scuffed knees, all smiles, while holding a fishing pole, eyes dancing with the red and white bobber that slowly matches the rise and fall of the waves. There’s a sweet honesty when we parents think of these moments with our kids. We hold on to these snapshots in our minds, because the ride to the lake, setting up and “Dad, can we go yet?” is messy. If we only regarded the set up and tear-downs of life with kids, we probably would never leave the house. So, how do we get your family out in the beautiful Wisconsin outdoors, and help you to start becoming the anglers you have envisioned? We can help in getting started, where to go, and how to have fun as a family.
So, you had this idea to take your kids fishing, and you thought you would start by going to a sports store, or better yet – the man’s mall, because that’s where memories begin. The panic attack started when? The fishing pole aisle? The fishing license options? Inland? Big lake? How will I know if we catch a trout? Yeah. I’ve been there. Fortunately, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Wisconsin has made it pretty easy to get your family outdoors, enjoying time together.
A great place to start would be during the FREE Wisconsin Fishing Days.
The DNR opens up free fishing for all ages twice each year. Generally, those days are the first weekend in June or third weekend in January. The next free fishing day is June 3-4, 2017. I suggest looking for one of these days. Dozens of free clinics are offered during these weekends by clubs, local parks, and other community organizations around the state. You can find a list of some here. We usually take our kids to River Park in Sheboygan Falls, where they make it a real event for the entire family. Not only do they have concessions for purchase, prize drawings for the kids, a playground for kids to play one, they also have expert anglers there to help teach, guide and clean your catches! The local conservation club generously stocks the little lagoon to help encourage young anglers. Don’t have tackle gear of your own? Many of these events will have gear for you to borrow, or you can look for a Tackle Loaner site at several state parks in Wisconsin.
If you find you really enjoy fishing after free fishing weekend, there are several ways to purchase a license. If you are new to fishing, you can try the “First-time buyer” resident license for only $5. Discounts for non-residents too! For everyone else, here is more information about purchasing a fishing license. Everyone 16 years old or older will need a license to fish, except for the free fishing days.
I highly recommend using the DNR’s website as a guide to fishing. There are certain rules for fishing depending upon the fish you catch or the season. These rules are created to help make sure Wisconsin waterways and her fish continue to thrive for years of enjoyment to come.
Ready to take the leap into fishing? Here is a great place to start! Go out and have a great time in the wonderful Wisconsin outdoors!
- How to Get Started
- Tackle Loaner Information
- Free Fishing Weekend Events
- Rules and Regulations to help protect Wisconsin’s resources throughout different seasons
Wilderness Springs, New London
Wilderness Springs Trout Farm is the perfect option for fishing with your family. The is open for public fishing Saturdays and Sundays, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, May thru September from 9 am 0 4 pm.
No fishing license is required! Bate and tackle is provided. There is no limit on what you catch but catch and release is not allowed. You pay by the pound and for a small fee can even have the fish cleaned. They will even package it up on ice for you for free!
Check out the beautiful ponds and learn about where your food is raised.
For more information visit: www.wilderness-springs.com
Reader Recommended Fishing Spots for Kids
Wilderness Springs Trout Farm
N4923 Lange Drive, New London, Wisconsin
Kaukauna Industrial Park
Sarah, “The pond in the Kaukauna industrial park. Not great eating sized fish, but lots of little ones that are easily caught with a bobber for catch and release. They are hungry little guys, too, so the kids always catch lots.”
Kimberly Point Park / The Neenah Light
Near Riverside Park in Neenah, just down the road a bit.
“Appleton Memorial Park Pond is located on the South side of Appleton Memorial Park and is available all year round from 6 am to 11 pm. – www.appletonparkandrec.org
Prairie Hill Park
2901 N Abendroth St, Appleton, Wisconsin / Town of Grand Chute
“catch and release fishing pond with dock (handicap accessible)” – www.grandchute.net
“An ADA accessible canoe/kayak launch was added to Lutz Park to assist those with special needs and river enthusiasts.” – www.appletonparkandrec.org
Sunset Park, Kimberly
Kelly, “Sunset Park in Kimberly or Lutz Park in Appleton. I always see people fishing in these two parks when we go to play.”
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
Long Lake, Sheboygan County
Bullhead Lake, Manitowoc County
Cedar Lake, Manitowoc County
Manitowoc South Pier
Hartmann’s Creek, Waupaca
Tonya, “I would not keep anything to eat from the Fox River though. If u want keepers fish the wolf river in Shiocton or New London otherwise Fremont.”
Diana, “A lot of people fish in the neenah slough, at Baldwin park, for example, and there is a playground too, but no restrooms.”
Upcoming FREE Events
Community First Free Fishing Day 2016
Saturday, June 3, 2017 from 8 am – Noon
Jefferson Park, Menasha
For all youth ages 2-12 years old and their families.
- Bait, Rods and Reels Supplied
- Fun Activities for Kids
- FREE T-Shirts
- Small Scale Tournament for all young Shore Fishers
- Prizes will be awarded for overall length of fish caught
- Lunch will also be provided for all event participants
Heckrodt Wetland Reserve volunteers will be available to help with baiting hooks. removing fish, releasing fish, taking pictures, and cheering fisher-persons.
Spaces are limited and registration is required by May 31, 2017. More information here.
Share your fishing pictures and tips with us by using hashtag, #govalleykids!
Stephanie Freville is happily married to an amazing man and mother to her flock of of three precious babes. While she dreams of late nights and long, sleepy mornings, living each moment as her lovelies grow is an amazing privilege. Willing to try just about anything once, Stephanie is a crafting, writing, gardening, yoga practicing foodie who loves Jesus, but may also cuss a little.
Enjoy Northeast Wisconsin with family and friends this summer! Find more things to do with the 2016 Go Valley Kids Summer Bucket List sponsored by Fox Communities Credit Union.