The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reminds all to take advantage of the free fishing weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18.

Any person may fish for free without a license on Maine’s waterways, except those who have had their license suspended or revoked. All other rules and regulations, including bag and possession limits, apply.

“Fishing during the winter is a wonderful way to get out of the house and make memories with family and friends that are sure to last a long time,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

“We offer this free fishing weekend in the hopes that more and more people will be introduced to the many winter fishing opportunities Maine offers, particularly on our frozen lakes and ponds. And remember, safety first. Please check the condition of the ice before you go out.”

“Whether on open water or ice, fishing is one of the most popular activities in Maine," said Chandler Woodcock, MDIFW commissioner. "Maine’s nearly 6,000 lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams offer endless opportunities for the thousands of residents and non-residents who fish them each year. The free fishing weekend is a great chance for people to try fishing for the first time or for more experienced anglers to teach a child the joys of the sport.”

Due to varying weather conditions this winter, game wardens remind all to be cautious and check ice conditions before venturing out. Due to uneven temperatures, ice conditions currently are unpredictable and it is not advisable to drive vehicles onto the ice.

“Test the thickness of the ice using an ice chisel or ice auger in several locations on the lake or pond,” said Major Chris Cloutier of the warden service. “Remember that new ice is usually stronger than old ice and ice seldom freezes uniformly. Ice that forms over flowing water and currents, especially near streams, bridges and culverts, can be particularly dangerous.”

The department also will offer a free fishing weekend on June 2-3.

For a complete list of fishing regulations, including limits and sizes, visit mefishwildlife.com/fishinglaws.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.