Deadline to remove Minnesota fish houses quickly approaching

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that the deadline to remove fish houses from Minnesota lakes is coming up. Although the coldest spell of winter occurred just days ago, fish house removal deadlines are set in state statute and not dependent upon seasonal conditions.

The removal deadline in the southern two-thirds of the state is the end of the day Monday, March 1. Anglers in this area should note it’s just one day after the close of the walleye-fishing season.

In the northern one-third of the state — which is defined as 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 the end of the day Monday, March 15.

“Anglers need to plan ahead and make sure they’re able to meet the deadline,” said DNR Conservation Officer Leah Kampa, who is stationed in Annandale. “And don’t just remove your fish house — make sure you clean up everything around it and leave only in impression in the ice or snow. It’s been heartening this winter to see people’s willingness to clean up the litter other people leave, but it’s unfortunate some people don’t take the time to clean up after themselves.”

Anyone who’s caught leaving litter – including any part of a fish house – on the lake may be cited for littering.

If shelters aren’t removed by the deadline, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed or destroyed by a conservation officer. If conditions or other circumstances are making it difficult for people to meet the deadline, they should contact their local conservation officer to explain the situation.

The removal deadline does not mean anglers no longer can use fish houses on the ice. 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. Anglers always should keep in mind that ice conditions vary widely and that ice is never 100 percent safe.

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).