Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ice fishing shelter removal dates approaching

Snow, cold and a slow bite has some ice anglers removing permanent fish houses from Minnesota waterways earlier than normal, report conservation officers (CO) with the Department of Natural Resources.

Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice of inland waters no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 3 in the southern two-thirds of the state and 11:59 p.m. on March 17 in the northern third. Conservation officers in Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Evansville and Wadena are reporting that ice shacks are being removed from the ice now in preparation for the removal deadlines.

“Some anglers are using the slow fishing and ease of getting around on the lakes to remove their houses,” said CO Chris Vinton of Detroit Lakes.

“Ice anglers are out, but many anglers are removing permanent houses because of difficult conditions and a slow bite,” said CO Randy Posner of Brainerd.

There are other reasons ice anglers are pulling their sheds off the ice.

“A cold winter has cemented some houses into the ice, requiring hours of prying, chiseling and pulling necessary to remove them,” said Maj. Roger Tietz, DNR Enforcement operations support manager, and an avid ice angler. “Some ice anglers are trying to get ahead of that by removing permanent shelters now.”

The March 3 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 17 deadline applies to waters north of that line.

Conservation officers patrolling the Detroit Lakes area advise fish shelter owners along Highway 10 to pay special attention to the deadlines.

“A line runs down Highway 10 from Fargo/Moorhead to Detroit Lakes; then it's Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes,” said Vinton. Fish shelters located north of that line have to be off the ice no later than midnight, March 17.

For border waters, the shelter removal deadlines are: Minnesota - Iowa, Feb. 20; Minnesota - Wisconsin, March 1; Minnesota - North Dakota and South Dakota, March 5; Minnesota - Canada, March 31.

Those not removing shelters will be prosecuted. Conservation officers may remove the structure and confiscate or destroy it. It is also unlawful to store or leave a shelter at a public access.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended.

It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state. Anglers should check with local refuse providers or landfills for disposal.