Heavy snowfall across parts of Minnesota prompted many anglers to haul their fish houses off the ice in late February. People who haven’t yet removed their shelters should keep in mind upcoming removal deadlines and make plans to meet them.
The fish house removal deadline for inland waters in the southern two-thirds of the state is by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 7. In the northern one-third of the state—north of the east-west line formed by 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 — the deadline is by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 21.
In addition to ensuring shelters are removed by the deadline, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers will be watching closely to make sure people don’t leave trash behind. Commonly left items include bait, blocking material, bottles, cans, cigarette butts and plastic bags filled with waste. As wheelhouses have proliferated across the state, there also have been increasing instances of people dumping sewage atop the ice.
“Some of the things people leave behind are downright disgusting, and anything people leave on the ice has the potential to be an eyesore at best and an environmental concern at the worst,” said DNR Conservation Officer Garrett Thomas, who is stationed in Eagan. “The message is simple: Don’t leave anything behind when you leave the ice, and make sure to dispose of it properly. It’s not any different than the lessons we’ve been taught since we were kids.”
The fish house removal deadline doesn’t mean anglers no longer can use them. After the deadline, fish houses may still be on the ice, but they must be occupied if they’re out between midnight and one hour before sunrise. Shelters may not be left or stored at public accesses. As they venture out, anglers should always remember that ice conditions may vary widely and that ice is never 100 percent safe. For more information, check out the ice safety page of the DNR website.
Exceptions to the removal deadlines are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1) and Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20).