Winter fishing in Minnesota is widely popular throughout the state. Anglers from every county and from all over the world walk out onto the ice to drop their lines. Like the regular fishing season, there are a set of rules and regulations determined by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. When you purchase your fishing license, you are issued a rule book that lists these regulations.
The Minnesota ice fishing season is part of the regular fishing season. Ice fishing begins in different parts of the state at different times, depending on the thickness of the ice. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designated Hwy 200 and Hwy 2 as the boundary that determines when ice houses must be taken off the ice. North of the boundary, ice houses can remain on lakes until March 16. South of the boundary, ice houses must be removed by March 1.
Ice fishing has some notably different rules than open water fishing. When ice fishing, anglers are allowed two lines through the ice, but must remain within 200 feet of their lines at all times. Lines cannot be left unattended during the day or night. However, only one line is permitted when angling in a dark house. And, if a fish is caught by angling in a dark house, the fish must be immediately released or placed on the ice.
A key part of the ice fishing season for many anglers is an ice house. On some of the larger lakes in the state, hundreds of ice houses gather to make ice villages. It is important to follow state laws that regulate ice houses in order to keep ice fishing safe and bountiful. All houses on the ice must have an address or license number visibly displayed for purposes of identification. If your ice house is an overnight shelter, it must have a strip of at least two inches of reflective material on its exterior. Additionally, ice houses must be no less than 10 feet apart and cannot be stored at public access points.