Mn ice fishing regulations

MN Ice Fishing Regulations: What to Know Before You Go

Northern MN ice fishing trips are a staple of winter on Lake of the Woods. However, the best way to make sure it is a smooth outing is making sure you are up-to-date with MN ice fishing regulations before you hit the ice. Nobody wants to cut their trip short because they weren’t aware of the rules and end up packing up early with a fine. So, here are some of the most important rules and regulations to keep in mind when planning your trip to Lake of the Woods this winter. 

Ice Fishing Rules MN

Mn ice fishing regulationsEach state has its own set of rules that anglers are required to follow. In the great state of Minnesota, some lakes are catch and release only, have certain limits to each fish that you can take home, and regulations for size. All of these things are to support a healthy balance in the ecosystem and make sure that bodies of water aren’t overfished. We want our lakes thriving and fun for anglers to experience for years to come. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when planning what fish you want to target and what you want to bring home for dinner.

Seasons and Limits

Each species of fish has an open season, even if not all of them carry a closed-season label. Here are some of the most common fish in Lake of the Woods and their seasons:

Northern Pike – There isn’t a closed season for this fish, but you may only possess 3 at any time. Fish between 30-40 inches are catch and release only and only one fish over 40 inches can be kept. 

Walleye and Sauger – Between sauger and walleye, you can keep a total of 6 fish with only 4 of those being walleye. For size, anything between 19.5-28 inches must be released back into the water. Anything over 28 inches is okay to keep. The open season for walleye is from May to April. 

Sturgeon – Regulations can be a bit hazy the closer you get to the Canadian-Minnesota border, but for MN ice fishing regulations, Sturgeon are catch-and-release between the months of October to April. From late April to the beginning of October, open season on sturgeon allows anglers to keep their catches depending on size. 

Perch – There is no closed season on perch, so you can pan fish to your heart’s content. You are allowed to keep up to 20 yellow perch per day and possess up to 40. 

Be sure to check the DNR website for specific dates that may vary with each year. 

Mn ice fishing regulationsMeals on the Ice

Many anglers like to catch their meals for the day and prepare them while still out on the ice. Many may not know that this ties in with their limits and that they are required to still have proof of how many fish they have kept throughout the day. The easiest way to make sure that you don’t run into any issues is to make sure you keep intact carcasses that can still be measured. Pack ice around the fish or carcasses that you plan to keep so that they do not freeze together and either store them in a cooler or in the snow outside. As long as they can still be measured and aren’t disposed before the day is done, you should be fine. 

Disposing Your Fish

If you decide that you would like to cook up some of your catches, make sure you are correctly tossing out your fish carcasses. Keep a “trash bucket” or a bag that you can take and dispose of off the ice. It is illegal to toss the remnants of your dinner back into the water. You will also want to dispose of the carcasses at the end of each day so that it is clear what you keep for limits the following day.  

Important Extras: Keeping the Lake Clean

This should be an obvious topic, but please pick up after yourself. There is nothing more discouraging for states to allow fishing on lakes when anglers leave their trash behind. If a lake is polluted with garbage like empty propane tanks, plastics, and whatever else you may be disposing of, the lake suffers and it creates an environment that not only affects other angler’s experiences but the entire ecosystem that makes our waters such an incredible place to fish. 

Making the Best Northern MN Fishing Trips

You can use this information as a good overview of MN ice fishing regulations, but it is still a good idea to check up on the DNR website to make sure that there aren’t any changes. It isn’t uncommon for the local research centers to propose changes if there are fluctuations in the health of the lake’s ecosystem. You can also check in by reading our weekly fishing report as we are always keeping up with what is happening on the ice and want to keep our guests well informed. It’s one of the many reasons why River Bend Resort is one of the best Lake of the Woods fishing resorts to stay with for your winter adventure. So, now that we have all of that covered, let’s hit the ice and get to catching some incredible Minnesota fish! 

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