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Ask a Conservation Officer: Cooking fish on the water

Q: While fishing on waters with special regulations can we prepare a meal with the fish we caught? Can we clean fish before we return to shore?

A: You can prepare a meal with the fish, but as an older CO told me "the oil better be hot." What he meant was that DNR Rule 6262.0100 subp. 5 D says: while on or fishing in state waters with size restrictions that differ from statewide regulations, including experimental waters, special management waters, boundary waters, or any other waters with size restrictions, all fish for which the different size restrictions apply must be undressed and measurable when in a person's possession, regardless of where taken, except when a watercraft is docked or moored to shore or when on the ice and a person is in the act of preparing and using the fish for a meal.

As far as filleting the fish before returning to shore, this is prohibited by this rule and the fish must be maintained in a measurable condition until off of the special regulation waters. On extended trips, such as Rainy Lake or Lake of the Woods, where anglers may be away from shore for multiple days, the fish may be gilled and gutted in order to preserve the meat on ice as that would keep them in a measurable condition.

Jake Willis is a Minnesota State Conservation Officer covering the Brookston Station. Send your questions to

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