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Using game fish for bait is illegal

Using gamefish such as perch or sunfish as bait to catch larger fish is illegal in Minnesota. This sunfish should be either released or kept, not used to attract larger predators. (Jason Durham / for the Enterprise)

Anglers are beginning to cautiously venture out onto the ice, yet refreshing themselves on some of the unknown or commonly misunderstood regulations is important in avoided a fine. Remember, ignorance isn't an excuse.

Fish can be filleted and prepared for a meal on the ice, but the fish used for the meal count toward the angler or anglers' possession limit.

Using whole or parts of game fish, goldfish, or carp for bait is unlawful. Although this regulation is in the fishing regulations booklet, some anglers illegally utilize eyes and belly meat from fish they intend to keep as bait. However, the practice is worthy of a fine. Also, using small fish, like tiny perch or sunfish as bait for larger predator fish like northern pike is also illegal. Although the natural forage may look like a great fish catching option, life-like artificial baits that mimic native fish are a better, and legal, option.

Daily and possession limits are the same unless otherwise noted. Fish are in an anglers possession whether on hand, in cold storage, in transport or otherwise.

Muskie season ended Dec. 1. Intentionally angling for muskie between December 1 and the next muskie opener on June 4, 2011 is illegal.

While spearing, party fishing does not apply. Those spearing between the ages of 16 and 64 and all non-residents must have both an angling license and a spearing license. Residents 65 and older are exempt from having a spearing license, but must possess an angling license.

While spearing, a person may take fish by angling in a dark house if only one angling line is in use and any caught fish is immediately released or placed on the ice.

All shelters placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have either the 1) complete name and address, 2) driver's license number, or 3) 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 2-inces in height.

A shelter may not be left unattended between midnight and one hour prior to sunrise unless the shelter is licensed. A tag, furnished with a license, must be attached to the exterior or in a readily visible location. Shelters left on the ice overnight need to have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side of the house (for easy identification by vehicle, ATV and snowmobile drivers).

A final regulation worth mentioning is that no person may erect a shelter within 10-feet of an existing shelter.

Abiding by the rules (Complete regulation booklets are available at and through retailers that sell fishing licenses) and using a little common sense will make your ice excursion enjoyable and worry-free.

And don't forget to mark your calendars for Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend, this coming Feb. 19-21. Anglers over the age of 16 can fish without a current Minnesota fishing license if they are accompanying a youth angler under the age of 16.