Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Ice anglers urged to 'Keep It Clean' as season winds down

Garbage can affect the lake's water quality, conservation officer Mikeena Mattson says, as well as harm fish, birds and other aquatic life. It also frequently washes up on shore in the spring, after the ice melts.

1125.c.gfh.outcol-Ice fishing litter on beach
Garbage from the winter ice fishing season litters a beach near Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods in the spring of 2010. Lake of the Woods Tourism, in conjunction with other local entities, has launched a campaign encouraging anglers to "Keep It Clean" this winter.
Contributed / File photo

It’s a messy problem that plagues Minnesota lakes every winter: litter left behind by ice anglers, especially on the state’s popular fishing lakes.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Mikeena Mattson works on the north end of Mille Lacs Lake.

She sees a variety of items left on the ice, from small – cigarette butts – to large – the occasional abandoned fish house.

"Just common garbage – you know, the waste that you produce throughout your day,” Mattson said. “Food waste, boxes from beverages or whatever it might be, human waste, animal waste, fish carcasses – stuff like that."

Garbage can affect the lake's water quality, Mattson said, as well as harm fish, birds and other aquatic life. It also frequently washes up on shore in the spring, after the ice melts.


Mattson said she saw a little less garbage this year than in some past years, possibly because heavy snow and cold temperatures kept some anglers home.

She said the litter problem could be avoided by anglers planning ahead for a day of fishing, and bringing bags or containers to carry out their trash.

She advises not leaving unsecured items outside or in the back of a truck, where they can blow away.

"A lot of it is preparation – thinking about those things, the proper ways to store stuff when you're on the ice,” she said. “A lot of people will set things outside of their house. And on Mille Lacs and a lot of other lakes, you get some wind, it's a big open area, so it can go flying off."

DNR sampling efforts uncover two CWD-positive deer in Deer Permit Area 184.
Gov. Tim Walz's plan would benefit state parks, forests, boat landings and fish hatcheries and tackle climate issues.
Online registration is required to attend the Jan. 20 event in Bloomington.
With federal money involved, WMAs must prioritize wildlife habitat over timber industry appetite.
With plenty of cash to go around, it's time to expand and repair parks, wildlife areas and boat landings.
The ‘Keep It Clean’ campaign started at Lake of the Woods. More recently, Upper and Lower Red Lake, Mille Lacs Lake, Lake Vermilion and the Fairmont Chain of Lakes came on board.
Jared Mazurek will lead Grand Rapids-based MDHA.
Jeffrey Erman, Bismarck, was charged with trading in special influence, disorderly conduct-obscenity and interfering with rights of hunters and trappers, court records show. Dustin Wolf of West Fargo was charged with criminal trespass
While cougars were native to Minnesota before European settlers arrived, there's little evidence they are staying or reproducing in the Northland today.
Ice fishing season is just around the corner and the Upper Red Lake Area Association’s Keep It Clean Committee has been taking action toward addressing the growing problem of garbage and human waste left on the ice during the season.

Mattson said the DNR works to educate anglers about not littering, but conservation officers also do issue citations to violators.

And while the DNR doesn’t expect environmentally conscious anglers to pick up after those who leave trash behind, many do, Mattson said.

A campaign called Keep It Clean has formed on some lakes, including Red Lake, Lake of the Woods and Mille Lacs, to spread the word about leaving no trace on the ice.

Minnesota’s ice fishing season will wind down in the next few weeks. The deadline to remove fish houses from lakes in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota is March 7.


On inland lakes in the northern third of the state, anglers have until March 21.

What To Read Next
Get Local