New pike regs getting first hard-water play

As cold temperatures begin to make ice on Minnesota lakes, ice anglers and spearers are gearing up for winter fishing action. This will be the first ice fishing season of new northern pike zone regulations throughout Minnesota.

The new regulations went into effect in May and created three distinct zones. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to move pike populations to a larger size more desired for table fare, particularly in the southern and north-central zones, the DNR reiterated in a news release.

According to the release, the move toward new regulations was a response to anglers’ concerns about the over-abundance of small, hammer-handle pike in much of central to north-central Minnesota; the low numbers of pike in southern waters; and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.

North-central zone 

  • Anglers: Limit of 10 northern pike, but no more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all from 22 to 26 inches must be released.
  • Spearers: Limit of 10 northern pike, only one between 22-26 inches and 1 over 26 inches; or, only two over 26 inches.

Northeast zone

  • Anglers: Limit of two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.
  • Spearers: Limit of two pike; only one northern pike over 26 inches.

South zone

  • Anglers and spearers: Limit of two pike; minimum size 24 inches.

The new northern pike regulations apply to inland waters but do not affect border waters or individual lakes, rivers and streams that have their own special regulations for northern pike.  Special pike regulations are in place on about 95 waters and always take precedence over statewide regulations. Anglers and spearers should always research the lake they are fishing and must be prepared to reliably measure their fish. Waters with special regulations are identified in the fishing regulations booklet and with signs posted at public accesses.

For more information about the new zone regulations, visit or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at

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