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Ask a Conservation Officer: Rules for fish caught outside Minnesota

Q: I fish in Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. I have saved some fish from each place that I have fished. I label each package with the species, date and where I have caught each fish. We have friends over and have fish as the main course twice a month.

Since I have four separate licenses and the length requirements differ in all the places I fish, am I in violation of Minnesota laws if I have seven walleyes from last year that were taken in other states under their license privileges?

A: Good for you for traveling and fishing that much. The short answer is "no." As long as the fish were legally taken under the regulations of that other state (or Canada) and lawfully transported into Minnesota, an angler is entitled to possess up to the possession limit of fish from that state in which they were licensed. It is important that traveling anglers remember the requirements for packaging and labeling fish brought into Minnesota:

• The fish must not be cut into more than two fillets

• The fillets must be packaged in a way that they can be separated, identified and counted

• Other than crappies, bullheads and sunfish, the fillets must retain a 1-inch square patch of skin and scales from an area other than the belly to aid in identification.

• Fish that were taken in an area with length limits for that species must retain head and tail to be measurable for compliance with those length limits while they are being transported.

• Packaged fish need to be labeled with the number and species of fish, the date and location taken and the name or license number under which they were taken.

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