Ice fishing shelters

ice houses on a frozen lake

Shelter licenses

  • All non-portable ice shelters must be licensed.
  • Wheeled fish houses are considered non-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.
    Buy a shelter license
  • The ice shelter license must be readily visible from the exterior of the shelter.
  • 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. ONE of the following must be readily visible from the exterior 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.
  2. If a shelter is left out overnight, it must have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side.

New litter law in effect

It is unlawful to improperly dispose of garbage, sewage or wastewater on the ice.

New in 2023 is a requirement that anyone using a shelter, motor vehicle or other conveyance on the ice may not deposit trash or waste outside unless the material is:

  • In a container that’s secured to the shelter, motor vehicle or conveyance, and
  • Not placed directly on the ice or in state waters.

Use this list to find a public dump station to drain your wheel house’s gray and black water tanks.

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

Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice no later than 11:59 p.m. (end of the day) for each of the dates given in the 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 may be cited. A conservation officer also may confiscate, remove or destroy any ice structure and its contents if not removed by the deadline.

Inland waters

  • South of line - March 4, 2024
  • North of line - March 18, 2024

Border waters

  • Minnesota-Iowa - Feb. 20
  • 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.

    map of line dividing northern and southern inland waters

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