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Ask a Conservation Officer: What are the rules for fishing border waters?

Q: I am a Minnesota resident with both a Minnesota and a Wisconsin angling license. I launch my boat in Minnesota, but frequently fish Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior where a steelhead over 26 inches can be taken. Is it legal for me to keep that fish taken in Wisconsin waters and return to my truck or marina in Minnesota waters where steelhead are protected? Can I fish back-and-forth across the state line?

A: A good question, and a very popular one recently. Yes, if the fish (a steelhead, in this case) was legally taken in connected Wisconsin waters under a Wisconsin license, you may return back to your point of access by the most direct route as long as you do not stop to fish in Minnesota waters along the way. If checked upon returning to your access point, you would be expected to have your Wisconsin angling license in possession.

It is also legal to fish back and forth across the state line. However, you need to be aware of which state you are in, as some of the regulations and possession limits differ from state to state. When doing so, you are not allowed to be in possession of more than one limit of fish, and when fishing in Minnesota waters, cannot possess any fish outside of those allowed under Minnesota law.

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to