Fish house changes greet winter anglers

Little Falls, Minn. – Several rule changes have been made for
the upcoming ice-fishing season that anglers should understand.

With ice starting to form, DNR officials are scrambling to get
the word out about the new laws that were adopted at the end of the
2007 legislative session and were not included in the 2007 Fishing
Regulations Handbook.

Most noteworthy is a change in licensing requirements for fish
houses. Shelter licenses are no longer a necessity – if you don’t
leave the shelter unattended on the ice overnight.

Fish houses come in varying sizes, appearance, and construction.
Generally speaking, they are placed in two categories: hard-sided
and soft-sided. But technically, all ice-fishing shelters are
considered portable.

The new law affects all fish houses, according to Maj. Roger
Tietz, DNR operations support manager at Camp Ripley. He says the
law is pretty simple to understand.

“If you leave your fish house unattended on the ice overnight,
you need a shelter license,” Tietz said. “If you fish from it and
take it with you when you leave, you do not need a shelter
license.”

Rumors circulating about the new law have confused many winter
anglers. Some thought the law only would apply to smaller,
pullover-type shelters. But according to Tietz, all fish houses,
including dark houses, no longer need a shelter license if they are
removed when the angler is done using them at the end of the
day.

The law applies to resident and nonresident anglers. In
addition, a fish house or dark house left on the ice overnight
still must be marked with reflective material on each side of the
house.

Tietz also said that all shelters placed on the ice must either
have the complete name and address, driver’s license number, or
nine-digit Minnesota DNR number on the license of the owner
displayed on it. It should be legibly displayed on the outside of
the shelter in letters and numbers at least two inches in
height.

“Although a shelter license is not required if you remove your
fish house each day, the identification remains mandatory,” Tietz
said.

Winter anglers also now have the option of purchasing a
three-year shelter license for $34.50. A single-year shelter
license will still cost $11.50.

Another change that took place as a result of the 2007
legislative session involves fishing licenses.

Fishing licenses usually were good from March 1 through Feb. 29.
Starting in 2008, Tietz said they now have a longer life – running
from March 1 through April 30.

The Legislature also directed the DNR to develop a rule that
would allow the consumption of fish on all lakes that have special
regulations in place. This would allow anglers to clean and eat
fish while on the ice.

The rule has been written and is currently at the Governor’s
office awaiting approval. Although the exact details have yet to be
released, the law will not change possession limits, according to
Henry Drewes, DNR regional fisheries manager in Bemidji.

“The law will not allow you to keep cleaning and eating fish
throughout the day,” Drewes said. “You are still only entitled to
one limit per day.”

The law will allow anglers who spend several consecutive days on
the ice in bigger, wheel-styled fish houses to clean and eat their
legal catch one day and do the same the next. But it’s paramount
that anglers understand that slot limits, daily limits, and
individual special regulations still must be followed.

Final wording and framework of the law should be released within
the next few weeks. DNR officials realize it needs to be out by the
time those larger houses start hitting the lakes.

Dark house spear fishermen also should take note of a couple
changes for this season, which starts Dec. 1.

Most noteworthy is that lighted spearing decoys are now legal
and fishermen now can spear and angle at the same time.

Under the new law, which had its wording changed for this
season, anyone may spear and use one angling line simultaneously
while in a dark house. The law includes tip-ups, but limits
occupants of a dark house who are spearing to one line each – not
two.

“We needed to clear the wording up in the law,” Tietz said.
“It’s important that everyone understands that only one angling
line may be set while spearing.”

For more information on the fish house rule changes, see the
complete DNR release on Page 36.

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