Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Jamie Van Thuyne was checking in on ice houses on Madison Lake Thursday, the day 2017 fishing licenses expired.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Jamie Van Thuyne.

He’s also reminding ice fishers that fish houses have to be off lakes in the southern half of the state by Monday and to, “Make sure to remove any litter or blocking material that you brought out with you; so, anything that came out on the ice with you needs to be removed. We don’t want two-by-fours or anything else floating around on the lakes this summer for boaters or skiers to hit.”

Ice house on Madison Lake.

Near a hole cut into the ice, a pile of fish parts was lying on the snow, and Van Thuyne said the, “Walleye carcasses laying on the lake, that’s litter also. Even though it’s natural material, it’s litter, you’ve got to take that off the lake with you.”

While it’s not common, Van Thuyne said he has had to help an angler that waited too long to pull his shelter off the ice when, “it ended up in shallow water and had to be removed. It’s not something I see very often. People are usually responsible in getting their houses off before the ice gets to that point.”

Van Thuyne said even though it’s natural material, fish carcasses are considered litter, and anglers are required to take them off the lake when they leave.

He measured 27 inches of ice on Madison Lake, but reminds people that no ice is 100 percent safe and they should always use an auger or ice chisel to test it as they venture onto a frozen pond, lake or river.

If shelters are not removed by the deadline, the DNR said owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.

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