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It's almost time to remove fish houses

The deadline for removing fish houses and dark houses from waters in the northern half of Minnesota is midnight on March 19. Fish houses in the southern half of Minnesota were to be off the ice March 5.

Dates of removal are determined by an 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.

Fish houses on Minnesota-Canada border waters have to be off by March 31.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.

Conservation officer Joe Stattelman of Detroit Lakes advises anglers to remove shelters earlier if ice conditions warrant.

"I hope most people take heed of the ice conditions we've had this year and remove fish shelters sooner rather than later," Stattelman said.

He also recommends outdoor enthusiasts check ice thickness by using an auger or spud bar before venturing onto a frozen pond, lake or river.

Conservation officers remind anglers to keep waterways clean. Litter on lakes tarnishes nature's beauty, destroys wildlife habitats and ruins many opportunities for recreation.