Ice fishing basics
- What season is it?
- If you're fishing in spring, summer or fall, visit our fishing page.
- Do I need a license?
You need to buy a Minnesota fishing license if you're 16 or older. Annual licenses allow you to fish from March 1 to the last day of February the following year. Lower-cost licenses are available for shorter time periods. There is an added cost to fish for trout, salmon or sturgeon. In most cases, Minnesotans don't need a license if you're fishing in a state park. The DNR's complete listing of fishing licenses can help you decide what to buy.Buy a license online
- When can I get on the ice?
Ice is never 100% safe so there really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. But if you take the right precautions, you can safely fish on the ice.
- What can I catch?
You can catch some fish such as crappie, catfish, sunfish, perch and bullhead at any time. Fish such as walleye, northern pike and bass – commonly called gamefish – can only be caught during certain times of the season. Those time periods can vary depending on where you are fishing. Use the DNR LakeFinder to find specific regulations for a particular lake.
- Where can I fish?
Almost all ice fishing happens on lakes. A river or stream may appear frozen and even be snow-covered, but a thin layer of ice on the surface starts to freeze while floating on the denser liquid water below. To get to a fishing area, don't cross private property without permission. Some areas may have fishing and access restrictions posted.
- What if I catch fish?
Use the DNR LakeFinder to find the number of fish you may catch each day in a particular lake. No matter where you fish, the number of fish you catch each day are part of the total number of fish in your possession. Fish you have at home in a freezer are considered to be in your possession and count toward your limit.
Spending time with someone who already fishes is the easiest way to learn to ice fish. If that's not an option, use the information we've gathered here to help build your knowledge and skills.
Where to go
- Minnesota's largest walleye lakes
- Boat ramps, landings & fishing piers
- Aquatic Management Areas
- Accessible places
Remember ice never is 100% safe. Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet.
Connect with others
Discover fishing organizations that can help you connect with the outdoors.
Help others learn
Find a lake
Get lake specific information including regulations, fish species, stocking reports and lake maps.
Get the same information in a portable, mobile-friendly format that knows exactly where you're at with LakeFinder mobile.
Check the regulations
Limits can vary from lake to lake, size restrictions may exist and fishing in a particular lake could be closed or limited. Check the special regulations before casting.
Northern pike zones
Because pike populations differ in various regions of the state there isn't just one issue – or one solution. So Minnesota has created three pike zones, each of which has different regulations for the northern pike you can catch and keep.