Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend 2024: All You Need to Know

Attention all fishing enthusiasts! Get ready for an exciting opportunity to explore Michigan’s abundant waters without needing a fishing license during the state’s Free Fishing Weekend 2024. This annual event, organized by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is designed to promote the joys of fishing and encourage more people to experience the great outdoors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of this fantastic weekend.

What is Free Fishing Weekend?

Free Fishing Weekend is a yearly event in Michigan where residents and non-residents can fish without a license for two days. This event typically takes place in June and is an excellent way to introduce friends and family to the wonderful world of fishing. It’s also a perfect opportunity for lapsed anglers to reconnect with the sport without the commitment of purchasing a license.

When is Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend 2024?

Mark your calendars! The 2024 Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan is scheduled for June 8-9, 2024. The event starts at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, giving you a full 48 hours to enjoy the state’s incredible fishing opportunities.

What’s Included in Free Fishing Weekend?

During Free Fishing Weekend, all fishing license fees are waived for both residents and non-residents. This means you can fish on any public body of water in Michigan without a license. However, it’s essential to note that all other fishing regulations, such as size and catch limits, still apply during this time.

Who Can Participate in Free Fishing Weekend?

Everyone is welcome to participate in Free Fishing Weekend, regardless of age or skill level. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a curious beginner, this event is the perfect time to get out on the water. It’s a great opportunity to teach children about the joys of fishing and to spend quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors.

Where to Fish for Free in Michigan

Michigan is blessed with an abundance of fishing opportunities, from the Great Lakes to inland lakes, rivers, and streams. With over 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, there’s no shortage of places to cast your line during Free Fishing Weekend.

Best Inland Lakes for Fishing

Some of the top inland lakes for fishing in Michigan include:

  • Lake Gogebic: Known for its excellent walleye, northern pike, and bass fishing. The lake covers 13,380 acres and has a maximum depth of 38 feet.
  • Houghton Lake: Michigan’s largest inland lake offers fantastic fishing for walleye, pike, and panfish. It spans 20,044 acres with numerous public access points.
  • Lake Charlevoix: This deep, clear lake is known for its lake trout, rainbow trout, and bass. It covers 17,200 acres with a maximum depth of 122 feet.
  • Higgins Lake: Famous for its crystal-clear waters and outstanding lake trout and smelt fishing. The lake spans 9,900 acres with a depth of 135 feet.

Top Great Lakes Fishing Spots

Michigan borders four of the five Great Lakes, offering world-class fishing:

  • Lake Michigan: Offers excellent salmon, trout, and bass fishing near ports like Ludington and Frankfort.
  • Lake Huron: Known for fantastic walleye, salmon, and lake trout fishing, especially in Saginaw Bay and the Les Cheneaux Islands.
  • Lake Superior: Provides outstanding lake trout, coho salmon, and whitefish angling. Marquette and Grand Marais are popular fishing towns.
  • Lake Erie: The shallowest and warmest Great Lake is famous for walleye, perch, and smallmouth bass. The western basin is a walleye hotspot.

State Parks with Fishing Access

Many Michigan state parks provide excellent fishing access:

  • Ludington State Park: Offers Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake access, with great salmon, trout, and bass fishing.
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park: Provides Tahquamenon River access for salmon and trout fishing amidst stunning waterfalls.
  • Harrisville State Park: Located on Lake Huron with a 300-foot pier, this park has great walleye, salmon, and trout fishing.
  • Burt Lake State Park: Situated on Burt Lake, known for excellent walleye, pike, and bass fishing. Provides a pier and boat launch.

For more fishing locations and state park info, visit the Michigan DNR website.

Why Free Fishing Weekend Was Established

Free Fishing Weekend was created to promote the benefits of fishing and encourage more participation in this rewarding outdoor activity.

Promoting Fishing Tourism

Fishing significantly contributes to Michigan’s tourism industry. Free Fishing Weekend showcases the state’s world-class angling opportunities, attracting both local and visiting anglers. By offering a taste of Michigan’s waters, the event encourages return trips that boost the state economy.

Removing Barriers for Beginners

A main goal of Free Fishing Weekend is removing barriers for new and returning anglers. Waiving the license requirement makes fishing more accessible and affordable to try. This introduction can spark a lifelong love of the sport and the outdoors.

Highlighting Conservation Success

Free Fishing Weekend provides a platform to highlight successful conservation efforts that maintain and improve Michigan’s fisheries. The DNR’s work includes:

  • Fish stocking programs that rear and release millions of fish annually
  • Habitat restoration projects that improve fish passage, restore wetlands, and enhance in-stream areas
  • Invasive species management to prevent the spread of threats like Asian carp
  • Research and monitoring to assess fish population and habitat health
  • Angler education and outreach to promote conservation and responsible fishing

By purchasing licenses and gear, anglers directly support this important conservation work.

Supporting Local Economies

Fishing drives significant economic activity in many Michigan communities. Free Fishing Weekend brings more people to these areas, supporting local bait shops, fishing guides, restaurants, and lodging. A 2019 study found:

  • Fishing contributes $2.3 billion annually to Michigan’s economy
  • Fishing supports over 35,000 jobs across the state
  • Anglers spend an average of $178 per person on trip-related expenses

Promoting fishing tourism through Free Fishing Weekend helps sustain these local economies and jobs.

Other Free Fishing Opportunities

Michigan provides additional free fishing chances throughout the year:

  • Free Fishing Days: Another free fishing weekend in February during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend
  • Youth Fishing Days: Select days where anglers under 17 can fish without a license
  • State Park Fishing: Many state parks allow free fishing for visitors, some even loan gear

Visit the Michigan DNR’s Free Fishing Weekends page for more details.

Tips for a Successful Free Fishing Weekend

To ensure an enjoyable Free Fishing Weekend, consider these tips:

  1. Plan ahead by researching locations, checking weather, and gathering gear in advance
  2. Fish with a friend or family to create fun memories and share the experience
  3. Practice catch-and-release to sustain healthy fish populations for the future
  4. Follow all fishing regulations on size limits, catch limits, and other restrictions
  5. Introduce someone new to fishing and help them catch their first fish
  6. Participate in local events hosted by parks, recreation departments, or fishing clubs
  7. Practice responsible angling by properly disposing of trash and respecting the environment


Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend 2024 is an incredible chance for anglers of all ages and skill levels to enjoy world-class fishing without a license. With thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams, plus Great Lakes access, the state offers an abundance of amazing opportunities.

Free Fishing Weekend promotes the joys of fishing while highlighting conservation efforts that maintain Michigan’s fisheries. By participating, anglers connect with nature, bond with family and friends, and contribute to local economies.

Mark your calendars for June 8-9, 2024 and get ready to experience the excitement of fishing in Michigan. Check the Michigan DNR website for the latest on fishing regulations, locations, and tips to get the most out of this special weekend. Tight lines!

Read More:

How to Get a Michigan Fishing License: A Complete Guide

How Much Does a Fishing License Cost in Michigan?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top