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Ice Fishing on Lake Minnetonka? Fish Shelter ID Required

Shelter owners are also urged to take appropriate steps to keep their houses from freezing onto ice surfaces.

Ice conditions on Minnesota waterways may vary, but all fish shelters must have proper identification, according to conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The ice on Lake Minnetonka is not yet safe for any recreational activities as of last report, but ice could thicken rapidly over the next few weeks. Ice houses may be on the shallower bays by next week. 

The DNR reminds ice anglers and others that shelters placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have either the owner’s complete name and address, a driver’s license number, or the nine-digit DNR number on the license of the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside of the shelter, in letters and figures at least two inches high.

Other shelter regulations include:

  • Shelter may not be left unattended any time between midnight and one hour prior to sunrise unless the shelter is licensed. (The Department of Public Safety requires registration of trailers used to haul fish houses or dark houses and enclosed trailers or recreational trailers used for fishing. Trailer registration is available from a deputy registrar.)
  • A tag, furnished with a license, must be attached to the exterior in a visible location.
  • Shelters left on the ice overnight need to have at least two square inches of reflective material on each side of the house.
  • People may not erect a shelter within 10 feet of an existing shelter.
  • A shelter license is not required on border waters with Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Shelters must comply with the identification requirements of the state in which angler is licensed.
  • Shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night. The structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.

Shelter owners are also reminded to take appropriate steps to keep their houses from freezing onto ice surfaces. With seasonal thawing and cooling, it is not uncommon for shelter contact points to become frozen to the ice, providing challenges when it comes to moving or removing the shelters.

A common method used to prevent freezing is to place blocks under the shelter contact points. Ice anglers are reminded that blocks placed under shelters must be removed and cannot be left on frozen waters. An easy way to remove a frozen ice block is with a long handled maul or a splitting maul. A couple of clean strikes will easily free frozen blocks.

Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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