Ice fishing shelter removal dates approaching
Dark houses, fish houses and shelters must be off the ice of inland waters no later than midnight on Friday, Feb. 29, in the southern two-thirds of the state and midnight on Saturday, March 15, in the northern third, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Feb. 29 removal deadline applies to waters south of a line starting at the Minnesota-North Dakota border near Moorhead along U.S. Highway 10, then east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border near Duluth. The March 15 deadline applies to waters north of that line.
For border waters, the remaining ice shelter removal deadlines are:
Minnesota/Wisconsin, midnight, March 1;
Minnesota/North Dakota and South Dakota, midnight, March 5;
Minnesota/Canada, midnight, March 31.
The DNR also reminds anglers to keep waterways clean by picking up litter around their shelters. Litter on lakes tarnishes nature's beauty, destroys wildlife habitats and ruins many opportunities for recreation. Litter is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.
If houses or shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and the structure may be confiscated and removed or destroyed by a conservation officer. Contents of the structure may be seized and held for 60 days; if not claimed by the owner within that time, the items become property of the state of Minnesota.
After the date when ice or fish houses or shelters must be removed, portable shelters may be placed on the ice and used from one hour before sunrise to midnight, but only if there is an open fishing season on the lake. Storing or leaving fish houses or dark houses on a public access is prohibited.
Anglers are encouraged to monitor ice conditions on lakes and make arrangements to remove their houses before travel on the ice is dangerous. The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of good solid ice for ice fishing; at least five inches for snowmobiles or ATVs; 8 to 12 inches for a car or small pickup; and 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
Ice conditions can vary greatly, so anglers should know about the different types and characteristics of ice. Slush shows weakening of ice and should be considered a danger sign.
If ice at the shoreline is cracked or soft, people should stay off. People should not go on the ice during thaws, and should avoid honeycombed ice and dark ice.
Ice is generally weaker where there is moving water, such as near inlets and outlets, bridge abutments, islands and objects that protrude through the ice.