With warm weather in the forecast, officials in North Dakota and Minnesota are urging anglers to get their fish houses off the ice as soon as possible.
In the southern half of Minnesota, permanent fish houses were required to be off the ice March 5. In a news release, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the deadline for removing houses in the northern half of the state is March 19. The exception is Lake of the Woods and other Minnesota-Canada border waters, where houses can remain on the ice until March 31.
In North Dakota, permanent houses must be off the ice by March 15, but given the weather forecast of temperatures in the 50s or 60s, ice conditions likely will deteriorate quickly this weekend.
“Even on lakes where ice remains solid away from shore, by the end of this weekend, getting a vehicle on or off a lake will likely be a challenge,” Robert Timian, enforcement chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said today in a news release. “All anglers are urged to use extreme caution.”
Officials in Minnesota are echoing that message.
“I hope most people take heed of the ice that we’ve had this year and remove them sooner rather than later,” said Joe Stattelman, conservation officer for the DNR in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
In North Dakota, anglers may continue to use shelters after March 15 if they are removed daily. Minnesota allows shelters to remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise after the removal dates only when occupied or when attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access also is prohibited.
Anglers also should make sure to clean up after themselves when removing fish houses from the ice. An all-too-common problem when fish houses are removed, litter not only is unsightly, it also harms fish and wildlife habitat and hampers outdoor recreation.