Fishing Regulations in Minnesota

Fishing Regulations in Minnesota
Minnesota is called "The Land of 10,000 Lakes," many of which offer anglers opportunities to catch fish. But whether you are on one of the biggest lakes in the state or one of the smallest, you are bound by a number of regulations that the state has to govern fishing in the state. The laws range from telling anglers what kind of equipment they can use, to how many fish they can keep, to the types of bait they can use. Before they hit the water in Minnesota, anglers should be aware of the state's fishing regulations.

Fishing license mandatory

Fishermen who are over age 16 and plan to fish in Minnesota need a fishing license, which allows anglers to target any species. Anglers should note, however, that they need an additional stamp to fish for trout and salmon, and a tag to harvest lake sturgeon. The state offers a variety of licenses that last for times ranging from 24 hours to the entire fishing season. Fishermen are required to have their fishing licenses with them while they are angling.

Limits of fish

The state of Minnesota sets limits on the number of most kinds of fish that anglers can catch and keep. The limits are laid out by the various species. Among the most popular fish species in the state, the walleye limit is six; northern pike limit is three; muskie limit is one; largemouth and smallmouth bass limit is six; crappie limit is 10; sunfish limit is 20; channel and flathead catfish limit is five; and the perch limit is 20. There are some species, like carp and whitefish, for which there are no limits. Also, some lakes have more restrictive limits than the statewide law. See the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fishing regulations booklet for a list of these lakes.

Open water: One hook only

During the open-water fishing season, anglers may use only one hook, and one rod and reel at a time. While artificial lures may contain more than one hook, they are considered a single hook. The regulation is different when anglers are fishing through the ice. Then, they can use two rods and reels, though it remains illegal to fish with an unattended line.


In the wild, the various species of game fish eat one another. But anglers, by law, cannot use whole or parts of game fish for bait. Even though carp are considered a rough fish, they cannot be used for bait. Goldfish cannot be used either.

Artificial lighting

While fishermen can use lighted fishing lures, as long as they are part of an artificial lure that has hooks, anglers cannot use artificial lights to attract fish.

Fishing during closed seasons not allowed

There are some fishing seasons in Minnesota that do not end. Sunfish and crappies, for example, can be fished year-round. But the season for species like walleyes, pike, muskies, and bass is closed during a certain period of time each year. Check the Minnesota DNR fishing regulations for season dates, since the opening dates can vary slightly each year. Anglers, by law, cannot intentionally fish for a species during a closed season.

The take of fish

Intentionally snagging fish is not allowed and anglers also are not allowed to harvest a snagged fish. Also, fishermen are not allowed to use items such as explosives, guns, or electricity to take fish.

Article Written By Larry Anderson

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.

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