Manitobans and visitors to this province are encouraged to participate in a weekend of free ice fishing. This year's Winter Family Fishing Weekend runs from February 18 to 20.

Local angler Marcel Laferriere says the free fishing weekend in winter doesn't get the same attention as the one in summer. However, he says it is a great opportunity for those who either don't have the means or don't have the desire to purchase a fishing license.

"I think it's great," he says.

Anglers will be able to fish without a license. Conservation limits will apply and a federal license will still be required to fish in national parks. Anglers are reminded to be sure conditions are safe before venturing onto the ice. Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox says it is important to let someone know where you are fishing and to wear appropriate clothing so the ice fishing experience will be enjoyable.

According to Laferriere, the melting conditions this weekend should not pose an immediate threat to ice.

"The warm weather won't make any danger whatsoever," he says. "All it will do is just make it a lot more enjoyable."

Marcel Laferriere with a lake trout