New fishing regulations

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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

March 1, 2023

Stay informed! Here’s a summary of upcoming fisheries and habitat management activities and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

a long-nosed gar

New gar possession limit takes effect

Spearers, anglers and bowfishers are allowed to keep up to 10 gar – the toothy, prehistoric fish native to Minnesota waters – starting today, when a new gar possession limit takes effect on all Minnesota inland and border waters.

The limit applies to longnose and shortnose gar, which previously could be kept in unlimited numbers, and is among other new regulations in the 2023 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet.

The gar regulation change is part of a larger effort to sustainably manage gar and other native fish including buffalo, sucker, freshwater drum, bowfin, goldeye and bullhead, because they are critical contributors to aquatic ecosystems. The gar limit was established after 2021 legislation requiring the DNR determine and set a limit for that species.  

Longnose gar photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

a trout being pulled out of the water with fly in its mouth

Find other new regulations  

Other fishing regulation changes for 2023 include opening the Vermillion River in Dakota County to a catch-and-release season that mirrors the season in place for southeastern Minnesota, which allows catch and release trout fishing from Jan. 1 each year to the mid-April stream trout season opener. Additionally, the brown trout catch-and-release only regulation applies to the entire Vermillion River starting today.

New and modified regulations will also be in effect for a variety of other waters. Anglers are advised to check the regulations book for regulation details for these waters:

  • Big Sandy Lake and connected waters, Aitkin County
  • A portion of the upper Turtle River chain of lakes, Beltrami County
  • Three Island and Turtle River lakes, Beltrami County
  • Fox Lake, Beltrami County
  • Caribou Lake, Itasca County
  • Round Lake, Itasca County
  • Otter Tail Lake, Otter Tail County
  • West Battle Lake, Otter Tail County
  • Cloquet and Otter rivers of Island Lake Reservoir, St. Louis County.

The 2023 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold.

angler and walleye she caught in an ice house

Time to buy your license!

Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2022-23 expired Feb. 28. Licenses for 2023-24 are available online, by phone (888-665-4236) or in-person at license retailers. All 2023 fishing licenses became effective today, March 1.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Dorle

a couple ice houses on a frozen lake

Remove fish houses before the removal deadlines

Attention all ice anglers! Fish house removal deadlines are approaching. Make a plan to bring the proper tools with you to remove your fish house safely.

Don’t leave wood blocks, insulation or trash of any kind behind on the ice. Trash and human waste infiltrates our waters, sinking to the bottom or washing up on shore, polluting the water, impacting aquatic plants and animals, and threatening many species of water birds. Leave your space how you found it and nothing but an impression behind.

The fish house removal deadline for inland waters in the southern two-thirds of the state is by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 6. In the northern one-third of the state – north of the east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border – the deadline is by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 20.

For border waters, also note that these border waters have their own removal deadlines:

  • Minnesota-Iowa, Feb. 20
  • Minnesota-Wisconsin, March 1
  • Minnesota-North and South Dakota, March 5
  • Minnesota-Canada, March 31

After the removal deadline, shelters can still be used, but if they’re on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise they must be occupied or attended. This information is also available on the DNR website.

fish art, image of a painting of a fish with a blue background

Students: Submit fish art

Don’t let the big one get away! Though we’re close to the end of the 2023 Minnesota Fish Art Contest we’re still casting for entries. Minnesota students in grades K-12, submit an illustration of your favorite fish to win national and state honors. Rapala, maker of fishing lures and other fishing-related products, is furnishing a prize package for the winners!

Submit your entries by Tuesday, March 14, for a chance to win. The contest is a partnership between Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine and Wildlife Forever. Winners will be announced at the beginning of May.

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Forever 

Fishing photo spotlight

an angler and next to him a youth holding a crappie she caught

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Marsh, of Allison Marsh with Future Anglers of Minnesota volunteer Kyle Rick

ice houses and a sunrise on Lake of the Woods

Photo courtesy of Ella Jensen of sunrise on Lake of the Woods

Have Minnesota fishing photos to share? You can upload your photos and we may use them in emails notifications, social media or the DNR website.

Find fishing information

You can find the information you need about learning to fish, regulations, where to fish, aquatic invasive species, contacting a conservation officer and more on the DNR fishing page.