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Deadlines approaching to get fish houses off the ice

A sure sign spring is coming, it's also time to buy a new fishing license.

Minnesota Conservation Officer Kipp Duncan and Hi-Banks Resort owner Tim Wagner examine an ice fishing house stuck on Fish Lake. Deadlines for removing fish houses from lakes are approaching. (Steve Kuchera / News Tribune file / 2019)

How did this happen? It seems like ice fishing just got started and it’s already nearly time to get fishing houses off the ice in some areas.

In Minnesota, fish houses must be off the ice by March 4 in the southern two-thirds of the state — south of a line running from the North Dakota border along U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border in Duluth.

North of that line you have until March 18 to remove fish houses.

Conservation officers use GPS to mark and record names listed on shelters and, if shelters are not removed on time, owners will be fined and the structure and contents may be confiscated and removed or destroyed.

After removal dates, temporary or portable shelters can be used at any time, although they may remain on the ice only when occupied or attended.


Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited. It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state. Clean up around your shack and check with local refuse providers or landfills for ice shelter disposal information.

In Wisconsin, fish houses in the southern three-fourths of the state must be off the ice by March 7 while, north of Wisconsin Highway 64 (which includes all of Northwestern Wisconsin) you have until March 14.

Overnight ice houses must be off Wisconsin-Minnesota border waters, such as the St. Louis River, by March 1.

Wisconsin anglers can continue to use portable ice shanties after these dates, so long as they are removed from the ice when they are not actively in use and at the end of each day. Owners having difficulties removing their shanties should seek help from their local fishing club, vendors and other anglers. The public should report any shanty owners not taking responsibility for removing their shanty to the DNR Violation Hotline at dnr.wisconsin.gov/contact/Hotline.html or by calling or texting 800-847-9367.

In North Dakota, all unoccupied ice houses must be removed from all waters beginning March 15. In South Dakota, fish houses can’t be left out unattended after Feb. 28.

Minnesota walleye, pike, bass seasons close Sunday

A reminder that the fishing season for walleye and other game fish closes Feb. 28 for most Minnesota lakes and rivers and will remain closed until the open-water season begins on May 15.

The March 1 walleye closure includes all of the St. Louis River/Twin Ports harbor as well, including Wisconsin waters.

The exceptions are Minnesota border waters with Ontario, such as Lake of the Woods, where walleye/sauger/pike fishing can continue until April 14 before it closes to protect spawning fish.


The Wisconsin walleye (and other gamefish) season ends March 7 and will reopen on May 1.

Your Minnesota fishing license expires Sunday

A reminder that 2020 fishing licenses expire on Feb. 28 and you’ll need a new one to keep fishing as of March 1. Wisconsin licenses are good another month, expiring on March 31.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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