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Fish house License

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Changes to fish house rules during the close of the 2007 Legislative session will greet anglers in Minnesota this ice fishing season, particularly those leaving such structures unattended on the ice overnight. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects the changes to generate some questions since the 2007 Fishing Regulations Handbook does not reflect the new statute language.

Col. Mike Hamm, DNR’s chief conservation officer, said the changes are pretty straightforward. “If you haul a fish house out and leave it unattended on the ice overnight, it needs a fish house license,” Hamm said. The rule change applies to both dark houses and fish houses.

The legal definition for a “fish house” means a structure set on the ice of state waters to provide shelter while taking fish by angling.

For a fish house or a dark house to require a shelter license, it has to be left unattended on the ice overnight and used for taking fish. “Overnight” is defined as the hours between sunset and sunrise outlined in the DNR’s sunrise/sunset tables in the 2007 Fishing Regulations Handbook.

Also under new provisions of the statute, residents and nonresidents are treated the same. This means in most cases a nonresident using a fish house during daylight hours will not need a fish house license. Likewise, if a nonresident angler is found occupying a fish house during the night, no fish house license will be required. However, if a nonresident places a fish house on a lake and leaves it unattended overnight, a nonresident shelter license will be required.

“For the 2007-2008 winter season, residents and nonresidents will need the appropriate fish house license only if the fish house is left unattended on the ice overnight,” Hamm said.


Question: Resident or nonresident is angling with a fish house for five hours during the day. Person leaves ice with the fish house. Does angler need a fish house license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required in this instance.

Question: Resident or nonresident angler stays overnight in a fish house. Does person need a fish house license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required in this instance, as long as the fish house is occupied.

Question: Resident or nonresident angler leaves fish house unoccupied on an area lake overnight in front of the resort angler is staying at. Does the fish house require a fish house license?

Answer: Yes. A fish house license would be required in this instance. Anytime the fish house is left unattended overnight, a fish house license is required.

Question: A group of (resident or nonresident) anglers pulls a fish house on the ice for a weekend of ice fishing. The fish house is designed with a wheel system that allows for easy access and removal from the lake. The anglers stay in the house and never leave it unoccupied during the course of the weekend. Does the fish house require a license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required as long as the fish house is attended. This includes daylight, as well as nighttime use.

Question: A group of anglers (resident or nonresident) anglers constructs an 8- by - 8- by 12-foot fish house on a local lake. Regularly the group, or members of the group, will meet at the fish house after work to fish. By 9 p.m. they’ve all left and return the following day at 5 p.m. for more fun. Does this fish house require a license?

Answer: Yes. Depending on who owns the fish house, a resident or a nonresident fish house license would be required.

The following regulations apply to fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters used on all Minnesota waters, unless noted in the 2007 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook.

- A person may not take fish from a dark house or fish house that is left unattended on

the ice overnight unless the house is licensed and has a license tag attached to the

exterior in a readily visible location. The commissioner must issue a tag with a dark

house or fish house license, marked with a number to correspond with the license

and the years of issue. A dark house or fishing house is not required of a resident on

boundary waters where the adjacent state does not charge a fee for the same activity.

- Nonresidents may obtain a license for a fish shelter.

- All shelters (including dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters) placed on the

ice of Minnesota waters must have either the complete name and address, driver’s

license number, or the nine-digit Minnesota DNR number on the license of

the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside in letters, and figures at least

two inches in height.

- A tag, furnished with the license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.

- Dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters must have a door that can be opened from the outside at any time when in use.

- Fish houses left on the ice overnight need to have at least two square inches of

reflective material on each side of the house.

- Fish houses must comply with the identification requirements of the state for which

the angler is licensed.

- No person may erect a dark house, fish house or shelter within 10 feet of an existing

dark house, fish house or shelter.

- Portable dark houses, fish houses and 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.

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Thanks for the great post.


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