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Fish house and dark house licensing changes apply to ice anglers

Changes to fish house rules during the close of the 2007 Legislative session will apply to anglers in Minnesota this ice fishing season, particularly those leaving structures unattended on the ice overnight.

Officials at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expect questions because 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.

"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, residents and nonresidents are treated the same.

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 placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have the complete name and address, driver's license number or nine-digit Minnesota DNR number on the license of the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside in letters, with figures at least 2 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 2 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, 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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