The first deadline for anglers to remove their fish houses from inland waters is the end of the day Monday, March 4, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The agency urges anglers who haven't yet removed their shelters to make plans now to ensure they meet the deadline, according to a DNR news release.
"Anglers are responsible for removing their shelters by the deadline, so they need to plan ahead and make sure they can do it," said DNR Conservation Officer Alexander Birdsall, who patrols the Waconia area. "There's no way around the fact that it will be challenging for many people to remove their fish houses this year, given the sheer amount of snow that fell in February."
The March 4 deadline applies to lakes south of an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, 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. The deadline north of that line is the end of the day Monday, March 18.
Some fish house owners may have difficulty accomplishing the task themselves. Birdsall urges them to contact a local snowplow company or connect with friends and family and ask for help.
Fish house owners shouldn't leave anything on the ice when they pull their shelters to shore.
If shelters aren't removed by the deadline, owners may be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer. After the deadline, shelters may be on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied. They may not be left or stored at public accesses. As they venture out, anglers should always keep in mind that ice conditions may vary widely and that ice is never 100 percent safe.
Exceptions to the removal deadlines are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1) and Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20).
For more information on the deadlines go to mndnr.gov/fishing/shelter.html.