Deadlines for removing fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters from state waterways are rapidly approaching, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Dates of removal are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Hwy. 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.
Shelters located south of this line must be removed by the end of the day on Monday, March 7.
Shelters located north of this line must be removed by the end of the day on Monday, March 21.
Exceptions are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), and Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1).
“Anglers with permanent houses on the lakes should be reminded that the removal date for those shelters is approaching along with warmer temperatures,” said Conservation Officer (CO) Tony Salzer of Ham Lake.
“Please remove your ice shelters early if ice conditions begin to deteriorate,” he added.
CO Luke Gutzwiller of Madison had this advice: “Please remember to pick up your trash when leaving the lake.”
DNR officials said if shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.
After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.
The DNR’s Enforcement Division Director Col. Rodmen Smith recommended checking ice thickness with an auger or spud bar before venturing onto a frozen pond, lake or river.
Smith said ice conditions can vary greatly, and 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 squishy, people should stay off. People should not go on the ice during thaws. Honeycombed ice, dark snow and dark ice should be avoided. Ice is generally thinner where there is moving water, such as near inlets and outlets, bridge abutments, islands and other objects that protrude through the ice.
According to information from the DNR Boat and Water Safety Unit, a minimum of 4 inches of new, clear ice is necessary for ice fishing; snowmobiling or ATV activity requires at least 5 inches; 8 to 12 inches are needed to support a car or small pickup; 12-15 inches are need for a medium truck.