Lakes are opened to liberalized fishing when a fish population is endangered due to the lack of oxygen available in the water, which is referred to as winterkill.
Lakes also are opened when rehabilitation projects require drawdowns, which can create water levels that are not sufficient for fish to survive.
These lakes are opened so that the public can take fish before they die. Lakes opened to liberalized fishing have signs posted at the public access or along the shore. DNR will alert local media and list the lakes along with the opening and closing dates on this web page.
Fish taken from lakes opened to liberalized fishing usually are lethargic and located near the bottom of the ice or near springs. Anglers should use caution and check ice conditions before beginning to fish on opened lakes. These lakes may be restocked with fish next spring after ice-out or when rehabilitation projects are complete.
Rules for taking fish from lakes opened to liberalized fishing
- The lakes are only open to liberalized fishing for a short time period. So check the dates on posted signs or in local newspapers.
- You are required to have a resident angling license to take fish on liberalized lakes.
- You may take fish in any quantity for personal use from lakes opened to liberalized fishing.
- You may sell rough fish.
- You may take fish by spear, gillnet, or angling (check each lake at the access site, gillnets may not be allowed at all lakes).
- You may not use seines, hoop nets, fyke nets, or explosives to take fish.
- All trespass laws are in effect and you should abide by them when accessing lakes.
- Do not leave any trash or litter on the lakes and take home all fish that are caught.