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Ask a Conservation Officer: What are the rules for fishing tournament permits?

Q: My friends and I have had a "healthy wager" among ourselves for several years during a fishing weekend at a cabin based on number of fish caught. Our group has now increased in size, and we want to run the contest as a fishing tournament. Under what conditions do we need a DNR permit for the contest?

A: The DNR regulates fishing contests to protect fish and fish habitat, to restrict activity during high-use periods, and for the safety of the participants.

Under Minnesota state law, a permit is required for a fishing contest if there are more than 25 boats for open-water contests, more than 150 participants for ice-fishing contests, or more than 100 participants for shore-fishing contests.

In addition, a permit is also required if the entry fees are more than $25 per person, or if the contest is limited to trout species.

A permit is not needed if the contest is not limited to specifically named waters, all contestants are under 18 years old, the contests is limited to rough fish, or the total prize value is $500 or less.

Contact your local Minnesota DNR Fisheries office for more information on fishing contest permits, or the DNR website at

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

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