Vermont’s state-wide Free Ice Fishing Day is Saturday, January 28, 2023.
Free Ice Fishing Day is held annually on the last Saturday in January. The day is geared toward giving new ice anglers an opportunity to try ice fishing before purchasing equipment, but any angler may ice fish on any waterbody open to ice fishing statewide without a fishing license on Free Ice Fishing Day.
To celebrate, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is holding an Ice Fishing Festival at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard—its first since the start of the pandemic. The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to all ages as well as families with kids.
“The Ice Fishing Festival typically draws between 500-700 participants for a day of fishing, skill-building, and community,” said Education Specialist Corey Hart. “Everyone at the department is excited to be bringing this favorite winter celebration back after a two-year hiatus.”
Vermont Fish and Wildlife staff, as well as instructors from Vermont’s Let’s Go Fishing Program, will be on-hand to teach ice fishing skills. These include knot tying, baiting and using an ice fishing rod, and most importantly, how to stay safe on the ice. They will also discuss fishing regulations and fish identification.
Fish and Wildlife staff will operate a fish fry station to cook up participants’ catch, and there will be plenty of cocoa on hand. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather, and ice cleats are strongly recommended.
“Ice fishing is one of the most accessible forms of fishing and can be a great way to introduce people to how much fun fishing can be,” said Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Christopher Herrick. “This festival will demonstrate that ice fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s also a great way to spend some time outdoors with friends and family. You can skate, sled, make a snow fort, and have a cookout – all while waiting for the flags on your tip-ups to signal when you’ve caught a fish.”
Fishing equipment will be loaned for this fun day on the ice, or participants may bring their own. For more information, visit the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website. Registration can be completed online in advance at https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/189542
or people may register when they arrive, although registering in advance will enable participants to get on the ice faster.