Known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota offers a multitude of fishing opportunities to its residents and visitors. There are numerous species of fish that the anglers of Minnesota go after and there are strict regulations in place for all fishermen to follow. These regulations cover such things as license requirements, open seasons, legal lengths of fish and ice fishing.
In Minnesota, a resident over the age of 15 must have a fishing license to be able to fish legally. A license good for one year as of 2009 can be purchased for $17. The state offers residents a chance to purchase a lifetime fishing license, with the fees more for younger individuals and less for older people. For example, someone who is between the ages of 16 and 50 can buy a license good for the rest of her life in Minnesota for $300 while a person 51 and older can get hers for $203. Non-residents may buy an annual license as well; it costs $39.50. Lifetime licenses are also available for non-residents of the state but at higher rates than for those who live within its borders. To be considered a resident of Minnesota in regards to purchasing a fishing license, you must have lived there for at least one year.
Minnesota has specific seasons for fishing devoted to each species found in its bodies of water. Crappies have no closed season as do sunfish, rock bass, white bass, catfish, perch and smelt. Walleyes, pike, muskies, bass and lake trout have seasons with designated start and stop dates. Fishermen looking to catch trout in streams and rivers must follow a schedule of open and closed seasons that change from county to county.
The legal length of fish in Minnesota is uniform except for certain lakes which have regulations regarding how long a fish must be for an angler to keep. For example, on Carver County's Ann Lake all largemouth bass caught must be released regardless of their size. In addition, a northern pike must be over 3 feet long to be kept and a person may keep just one that length. Any that are caught which measure between 2 and 3 feet long must quickly be released back into the water. Another example of legal length differences is Bamidji Lake's regulations concerning muskellunge, which states that a muskie needs to be at least 48 inches long to be kept, even though the legal length throughout most of the state is 40 inches. These variances are always posted where anglers have access to the body of water as well as in the Minnesota fishing regulations handbook and on online.
Ice fishing is hugely popular in Minnesota and the state has regulations that apply to this method of angling. Only two lines per individual are allowed except on certain lakes and streams, meaning that a fisherman may have only two tip-ups of jigging lines in the water at any one time. The angler can be no further than 200 feet from his tip-ups. Ice shelters which protect anglers on the ice from the elements must have the owner's name and address or their driver's license number displayed on the outside. Unattended shelters left on the ice overnight between midnight and an hour before the sun comes up must be properly licensed.