The provincial government is encouraging families to enjoy the outdoors by offering free fishing for the Family Day weekend.

Residents can ice fish without buying a fishing licence from Feb. 14-16.

"Fishing without having to buy a licence is an affordable way to try a new, fun family activity,” says Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Before venturing out, officials say check the ice conditions with local ice hut operators or other anglers.

Other tips include letting others know where you're planning to fish and when you plan to return. Appropriate clothing and equipment are critical to safety and comfort.

"Breaking down barriers to fishing opportunities is one of our core mandates at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters,” says Angelo Lombardo, executive director. “Ontario Family Fishing Weekend does just that, providing Canadian residents the opportunity to fish Ontario's beautiful waters licence-free.”

He says it's a perfect time for families to create memories while enjoying the great outdoors.

About 1.3 million licensed anglers fish in Ontario each year and spend $2.5 billion in the province annually.

Anglers are reminded to follow rules in the 2015 Fishing Regulations Summary.