Ice fishing shelters

Ice is never 100% safe

The DNR does not measure ice thickness on Minnesota lakes. Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet.

Shelter removal deadlines approaching!




Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice no later than midnight for each of the dates given in the following categories below. County sheriffs may prohibit or restrict the use of motorized vehicles if dangerous ice conditions are present. If shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted, and the structure and contents may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.

Inland waters - early March

  • South of line - March 4
  • North of line - March 18

Border waters - early March

  • Minnesota–Wisconsin - March 1
  • Minnesota–North and South Dakota - March 5
  • Minnesota–Canada - March 31

    Dates of removal are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Hwy. 10, east along Hwy. 34 to Minnesota Hwy. 200, east along Hwy. 200 to U.S. Hwy. 2, and east along Hwy. 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.

    Shelter licenses

    • All non-portable ice shelters must be licensed.
    • Wheeled fish houses are not considered portable and must be licensed.
    • An annual shelter license costs $15 for residents and $37 for non-residents, not including issuing fees that may be charged.
    • A shelter license is valid from March 1 through April 30 of the following year.
    • A shelter license is not required on border waters between Minnesota or Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

    Portable shelter definition

    A shelter that collapses, folds or is disassembled for transportation.

    Portable shelters only need licenses and identification when left unattended, which is defined as all occupants being more than 200 feet away.

    Shelter identification requirements

    1. The fish house license tag must be readily visible from the exterior of the shelter.
    2. ONE of the following must be displayed on the outside of the shelter with characters at least 2 inches high:
      • Owner's name and address
      • Owner's drivers license number
      • Owner's Minnesota DNR identification number.
    3. If a shelter is left out overnight, it must have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side.

    It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state. Please clean up around your shack and check with local refuse providers or landfills for ice shelter disposal information.