This is how you know winter is truly near its end – nearly all waters in Minnesota will be without ice houses come Tuesday.
The deadline for removing dark houses, fish houses and portables from the northern third of Minnesota – that's north of Highway 200, which stretches east-west from Duluth through to just north of Fargo – is Monday, the DNR says.
The deadline for inland waters south of that line was March 2, and waters on neighboring states' borders all passed in recent weeks as well.
There's only one area where permanent ice houses have a bit longer – waters on the Minnesota-Canada border, which have until March 31.
But the deadlines come with a warning – those who don’t clean up after themselves risk prosecution and possible destruction of their leftover property, the DNR says.
The agency is apparently serious about cleanliness.
“We will do what we can to identify those people and hold them accountable,” DNR Enforcement Chief Ken Soring told MPR News. “These are people who, of anyone, should be having some respect and appreciation for the lake and keeping it as clean as they can.”
He said fish houses – and garbage – are abandoned on lakes every year.
This doesn't mean ice fishing is over. After these removal dates, shelters can be on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise, but only when occupied or attended.