Fishing Season Opener Dates

Season openers may reflect a harvest season or a catch and release season. See details on page 21.

YEAR

WALLEYE, PIKE, BASS

MUSKIE

STREAM TROUT

2023

May 13

June 3

April 15

2024

May 11

June 1

April 13

2025

May 10

June 7

April 12

 

Inland Fishing Seasons and Limits in Minnesota

Northern Pike

  • Season: May 13, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024
  • Zone Limits:
    • Northeast Zone: Maximum of 2 fish, with only 1 over 40 inches. Mandatory release for fish between 30-40 inches.
    • North-central Zone: Up to 10 fish allowed, with no more than 2 over 26 inches. Mandatory release for fish between 22-26 inches.
    • Southern Zone: Limit of 2 fish, with a minimum size requirement of 24 inches.

Walleye and Sauger

  • Season: May 13, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024
  • Limit: Combined total of 6, with no more than 1 walleye over 20 inches.

Muskellunge and Hybrid Muskellunge

  • Season: June 3 - Dec. 1
  • Limit: 1 combined total, minimum size 54 inches, with exceptions for specified Twin Cities area lakes where the minimum size is 40 inches.

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Statewide (Excluding Northeast Zone):
    • Catch-and-Release: May 13 - 26
    • Season with Possession: May 27, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024, with a limit of 6 combined total.
  • Northeast Zone:
    • Season: May 13, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024, with a limit of 6 combined total.

Panfish Limits

  • Crappie (White or Black): Continuous season with a 10 combined total limit.
  • Sunfish Varieties: Continuous season with a 20 combined total limit.
  • Rock Bass and White Bass: Continuous season with a 30 limit.
  • Catfish (Channel and Flathead): Continuous for channel catfish; April 1 - Nov. 30 for flathead catfish, with a 5 combined total limit (no more than 2 flatheads, only 1 catfish over 24 inches).

Other Species

  • Perch: Continuous season with a 20 daily, 40 in possession limit.
  • Whitefish, Cisco (Tullibee), and Burbot: Continuous season, no limit.
  • Rough Fish: Continuous season, no limit, with specific exceptions.
  • Bullhead: Continuous season, 100 limit.
  • NEW - Gar: Continuous season, 10 limit.
  • Smelt: Continuous season, no limit.

Special Categories

  • Lake or Shovelnose Sturgeon: Catch-and-release only from June 16 - April 14; no tag needed.
  • Paddlefish: No open season.
  • Lake Trout:
    • Summer Season: May 13 - Sept. 30, limit of 2.
    • Winter Season: Jan. 14 - March 31 (2023), Jan. 13 - March 31 (2024) for lakes outside or partly outside BWCAW; Dec. 31, 2022 - March 31, 2023 (2023), Dec. 30, 2023 - March 31, 2024 (2024) for lakes entirely within BWCAW.

Understanding Northern Pike Possession Limits

Statewide Possession Limit

In Minnesota, the statewide possession limit for northern pike is 10 fish. This limit is governed by the specific zone from which the fish are harvested, not by where the angler resides or where the fish are kept.

Application of Zone Possession Limits

Zone possession limits dictate the maximum number of northern pike an angler can possess from each designated zone:

  • Northeast Zone: Possession limits are designed to protect larger pike, allowing only 2 fish, with a size restriction that requires immediate release of fish within a certain slot.
  • North-central Zone: Offers a more generous limit of up to 10 fish, with only 2 over a specified size, aiming to reduce the population of smaller pike.
  • Southern Zone: Limits possession to 2 fish, enforcing a minimum size to encourage the growth of larger pike.

Special Regulations on Lakes and Streams

For waters with special regulations that differ from those of the encompassing zone, these specific limits take precedence. If a lake has a special regulation setting a possession limit different from the zone's limit, anglers must follow the lake-specific regulation. This ensures that local fish populations are managed according to their unique ecological needs, even if it means stricter limits than the statewide or zone regulation.

Compliance Across Zones

Anglers must comply with the possession limits of the zone where the fish were caught. For instance, if an angler catches pike in both the North-central and Southern zones, they must not exceed the limits of each zone individually. Possessing fish from multiple zones requires careful attention to ensure that the total does not breach the specific limits of any zone from which the fish were taken.

Minnesota Fishing Seasons & Limits

Trout Fishing Regulations: Brook, Brown, and Rainbow

General Regulations for Stream Trout

Trout fishing, an activity cherished by anglers for its challenge and the beauty of the environments where trout are found, is governed by specific regulations in Minnesota. These rules apply to brook, brown, and rainbow trout, and their hybrids in lakes and streams, excluding lake trout and areas such as Lake Superior tributaries and waters under Experimental and Special Regulations.

Fishing Hours

  • Permitted Times: Fishing for stream trout in inland waters is allowed from one hour before sunrise until 11 p.m., accommodating both early risers and those who enjoy evening fishing.

Fishing Tackle Restrictions

  • One Line Rule: Whether during the open water season or through the ice, anglers are limited to using only one line on designated stream trout lakes and streams.
  • Bait Usage: The use of live minnows as bait is strictly prohibited on designated stream trout lakes. Anglers may use dried, frozen, or pickled minnows. Live leeches, worms, and wax worms are permitted.
  • Live Bait on Streams: While live minnows and other live baits are generally allowed on most trout streams, some streams may have specific bait restrictions due to conservation concerns.

Seasonal and Catch Regulations

  • Open Season Requirements: Fishing, including catch-and-release, is only allowed during the open trout season. This ensures that trout populations are not disturbed during critical spawning periods or when they are most vulnerable.
  • Transporting Trout: When transporting stream trout, they must have their head, tail, fins, and skin intact to allow for proper identification and regulation enforcement.

Restrictions on Rough Fish and Bait Harvesting

  • Rough Fish Handling: The use of spears, harpoons, archery, or dip nets to take rough fish is banned in designated trout lakes and streams, preserving these habitats for trout fishing.
  • Bait Harvesting: Capturing minnows or leeches from designated trout waters is typically not allowed, except under special permits, to prevent the spread of diseases and protect delicate ecosystems.

Stream Trout Fishing Seasons and Limits in Minnesota

Seasons and Limits for Streams

Southeast Minnesota Streams

  • Jan. 1 - April 14: Catch-and-release only for streams in Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha, and Goodhue counties.
  • April 15 - Sept. 14: Possession limit of 5 combined total trout, with no more than 1 over 16 inches.
  • Sept. 15 - Oct. 15 & Jan. 1, 2024 - April 14, 2024: Catch-and-release only.
  • Exceptions: Special regulations apply to streams within certain state parks and city boundaries, including catch-and-release periods and possession limits (refer to pages 52-55 for details).

Statewide Except Southeast Minnesota

  • April 15 - Sept. 30: Possession limit of 5 combined total trout, with no more than 1 over 16 inches across the state, excluding Southeast Minnesota.

Seasons and Limits for Lakes

Summer Season (Statewide)

  • May 13 - Oct. 31: Anglers can keep 5 combined total trout from lakes, with no more than 3 over 16 inches.

Winter Season

  • Outside or Partly Outside BWCAW:
    • 2023 Season: Jan. 14 - March 31
    • 2024 Season: Jan. 13 - March 31
  • Entirely Within BWCAW:
    • 2023 Season: Dec. 31, 2022 - March 31, 2023
    • 2024 Season: Dec. 30, 2023 - March 31, 2024
  • In both scenarios, the possession limit remains at 5 combined total trout, with no more than 3 over 16 inches.

Lake Exceptions

  • Closed Winter Season for Stream Trout: Certain lakes, including Little Andrus (Snowshoe) in Cass County; Allen and Pleasant in Crow Wing County; and Bad Medicine in Becker County, have a closed winter season for stream trout.

Fishing Regulations for Lake Superior and Its Tributaries

Licensing Requirements

  • Minnesota Waters: Anglers must have a Minnesota angling license and a trout/salmon stamp validation to fish in Minnesota's section of Lake Superior.
  • Wisconsin Waters: A Wisconsin fishing license is required for fishing in Wisconsin's section of Lake Superior. However, the St. Louis River Estuary can be fished with a Minnesota license.

Location and Boundaries

  • Fishing Zones: Regulations differ above and below posted boundaries on tributaries, reflecting areas accessible to migratory fish.
  • Special Regulations and Sanctuaries: Certain tributaries and areas within tributaries are subject to special regulations or are designated as sanctuaries where fishing is prohibited.

Angling Hours and Methods

  • Hours: Fishing in tributaries below posted boundaries is allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, with exceptions for specific areas.
  • Single Hook or Fly: Only a single hook or fly is permitted on tributaries below the posted boundaries, with exceptions in certain areas.
  • Two Lines on Lake Superior: Anglers may use up to two lines on Lake Superior, with a restriction to one line within 100 yards of any stream mouth.

Possession and Transportation

  • Unclipped Steelhead: Must be immediately released in Lake Superior and its tributaries.
  • Transportation Requirements: Specific rules apply for how trout, salmon, muskellunge, and catfish must be transported on water and land.

Taking of Smelt and Cisco (Tullibee)

  • Smelt Harvesting: No limit on smelt; artificial lights cannot be used to attract smelt. Restrictions apply to the use of dip nets and seines.
  • Cisco as Bait: Cisco or smelt from Lake Superior or its tributaries can be used as bait in Lake Superior, with specific preservation requirements for use in other waters.

Use of Trout Eggs as Bait

  • Spawn Bags: Eggs from Lake Superior trout can be used as bait in the form of spawn bags, with restrictions on their use and sale.

Guide Licensing

  • Charter Boats: A guide's license is required to operate a charter boat for guiding anglers on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River Estuary.

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for Lake Superior and Its Tributaries Below Posted Boundaries

Species, Seasons, and Limits

  • Brook Trout and Splake:

    • Open Season: April 15 - Sept. 4
    • Possession Limit: 1 (combined total with brown trout and rainbow trout not to exceed 5)
    • Size Limit: Minimum size of 20 inches
  • Rainbow Trout (Clipped):

    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 3 (combined total with other trout not to exceed 5)
    • Size Limit: Minimum size of 16 inches
  • Rainbow Trout (Unclipped):

    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession: Catch-and-release only
  • Brown Trout:

    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 5 (combined total with other trout not to exceed 5), with only 1 over 16 inches
    • Size Limit: Minimum size of 10 inches
  • Lake Trout:

    • Open Season: Dec. 1, 2022 - Oct. 8, 2023; Dec. 1, 2023 - Oct. 6, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 3
  • Salmon (Chinook, Coho, Pink, and Atlantic):

    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 5 combined total (only 1 can be Atlantic salmon)
    • Size Limit: Minimum size of 10 inches
  • Walleye:

    • Open Season: May 13, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 2
    • Size Limit: Minimum size of 15 inches
  • Northern Pike:

    • Open Season: May 13, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 2
  • Smelt:

    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession: No limit
  • Lake or Shovelnose Sturgeon:

    • Open Season: Same dates every year: June 16 - April 14
    • Possession: Catch-and-release only; no tag needed

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for Lake Superior Tributaries Above Posted Boundaries

Species, Seasons, and Limits

  • Brook and Brown Trout:

    • Open Season: April 15 - Sept. 30
    • Possession Limit: 5 combined total
    • Size Limit: Not more than 1 over 16 inches
  • Rainbow Trout:

    • Open Season: April 15 - Sept. 30
    • Possession: Catch-and-release only

Fishing Regulations for Canada–Minnesota Boundary Waters

Walleye and Sauger

  • Open Season: May 14, 2022 - April 14, 2023; May 13, 2023 - April 14, 2024
  • Possession Limit: 6 combined total (not more than 1 over 20" in possession)
  • Exceptions: Lake of the Woods, Four Mile Bay, Namakan, Sand Point, Little Vermilion, Rainy Lake, Rainy River, Saganaga Lake (specific regulations apply)

Northern Pike

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 3 (only 1 over 30" in possession)
  • Exceptions: Lake of the Woods, Rainy River (specific regulations apply), Basswood Lake

Muskellunge

  • Open Season: June 17 - Nov. 30
  • Possession Limit: 1 (minimum size 50")

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 6 combined total

Lake Sturgeon

  • Open Season: April 24 - May 7; July 1 - Sept. 30
  • Possession Limit: 1 per calendar year (specific size requirements apply)

Other Species

  • Crappie: Continuous open season, possession limit of 10
  • Lake Trout (Summer and Winter): Specific seasonal regulations apply
  • Stream Trout: Open season from April 29 - Sept. 30, possession limit of 5 (not more than 3 over 16")
  • All other species: Inland limits apply

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for Iowa–Minnesota Boundary Waters

Walleye

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 3

Northern Pike

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 3

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 3 combined total

Muskellunge

  • Open Season: May 21 - Nov. 30
  • Possession Limit: 1 (minimum size 40")

Catfish (Channel and Flathead)

  • Channel Catfish: Continuous open season, possession limit of 8 combined total
  • Flathead Catfish: April 1 - Nov. 30

Sunfish (Bluegill, Crappie, Pumpkinseed, etc.)

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 25 combined total

Perch

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 25

White Bass and Yellow Bass

  • Continuous Open Season
  • No possession limit

Bullhead

  • Continuous Open Season
  • No possession limit

Carp, Sucker, Redhorse, Freshwater Drum, etc.

  • Continuous Open Season
  • No possession limit

Gar

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 10

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for North Dakota–Minnesota Boundary Waters

Walleye and Sauger

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 3 combined total

Northern Pike

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 3

Sunfish (Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, etc.)

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 30

Perch

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 50

Crappie

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 30

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 3 combined total

Lake Sturgeon

  • March 1 - April 14: Catch-and-release only
  • April 15 - June 15: Closed
  • June 16, 2023 - April 14, 2024: Catch-and-release only

Muskellunge

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 1 (minimum size 50")

Rock Bass

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 20

Bullhead

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 100

Catfish

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 5 (only 1 over 24")

Carp, Sucker, Redhorse, etc.

  • Continuous Open Season
  • No possession limit

Gar

  • Continuous Open Season
  • Possession Limit: 10

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for South Dakota–Minnesota Boundary Waters

Walleye and Sauger

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 4 combined total (only 1 walleye over 20")

Northern Pike Angling

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 6

Northern Pike Spearing

  • Open Season: Nov. 15, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024
  • Possession Limit: 3

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 6 combined total

Crappie

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 10

Sunfish (Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, etc.)

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 10 combined total

Rock Bass

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 20

Bullhead

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 100

Perch

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Daily Limit: 15
  • Possession Limit: 30

Catfish (Channel and Flathead)

  • Channel Catfish: Continuous
  • Flathead Catfish: April 1 - Nov. 30
  • Possession Limit: 5 combined total. No more than 2 can be flathead (only 1 catfish over 24").

Lake Sturgeon

  • April 15 - June 15: Closed
  • June 16, 2023 - April 14, 2024: Catch-and-release only

Carp, Sucker, Redhorse, etc.

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • No possession limit

Gar

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 10

Fishing Species, Seasons, & Limits for Wisconsin–Minnesota Boundary Waters

Walleye and Sauger

  • St. Louis River Estuary:
    • Open Season: May 13, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 2 combined total (15" minimum size for walleye)
  • St. Croix River:
    • Open Season: April 29, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 6 combined total (15" minimum size for walleye)
  • Mississippi River, border water portion of Pool 3 and Pools 4-8 including Lake Pepin:
    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 4 combined total (15" minimum size for walleye, only 1 walleye or sauger over 20")
  • Mississippi River downstream of Lock and Dam 8:
    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 6 combined total (15" minimum size for walleye, all walleye from 20-27" must be immediately released, only 1 walleye over 27")

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • St. Louis River Estuary:
    • Open Season: May 27, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 5 combined total (14" minimum size)
  • St. Croix River upstream of Taylors Falls Dam:
    • Open Season: May 27 - Sept. 10
    • Possession Limit: 5 (14" minimum size)
    • Sept. 11 - March 1, 2024: Catch-and-release only
  • St. Croix River downstream of Taylors Falls Dam to U.S. Hwy. 10 Bridge:
    • Open Season: May 27, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 5 (14" minimum size)
  • Mississippi River and Lake Pepin:
    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 5 (14" minimum size)

Northern Pike

  • St. Louis River Estuary and St. Croix River:
    • Open Season: May 13, 2023 - March 1, 2024
    • Possession Limit: 2
  • Mississippi River and Lake Pepin:
    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 3 (only 1 over 30")

Muskellunge

  • Open Season: May 27 - Nov. 30
  • Possession Limit: 1 (50" minimum size)

Perch

  • Mississippi River and Lake Pepin:
    • Open Season: Continuous
    • Possession Limit: 15
  • St. Louis River Estuary and St. Croix River:
    • Possession Limit: 25

Catfish (Channel and Flathead)

  • Mississippi River and Lake Pepin:
    • Channel Catfish: Continuous
    • Flathead Catfish: April 1 - Nov. 30
    • Possession Limit: 10 combined total (only 1 catfish over 30")
  • St. Louis River Estuary and St. Croix River:
    • Possession Limit: 10 combined total

Rough Fish (Not Including Gar)

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • No limit

Gar

  • Open Season: Continuous
  • Possession Limit: 10

Bowfishing Seasons and Limits in Minnesota

Bullhead

  • Early Season 2023: Feb. 27 - April 28, 2023
  • Regular Statewide: April 29, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024
  • Early Season 2024: Feb. 26 - April 26, 2024
    • Note: Early Seasons are south of Hwy 210, only on lakes, and on Minnesota, Mississippi, or St. Croix rivers. Bowfishing must be conducted from a boat during the early season.
  • Possession Limit: 100

Sucker and Redhorse

  • Possession Limit: 50 each

Carp, Buffalo, Freshwater Drum, Bowfin, Goldeye

  • Possession Limit: No limit

Gar

  • Possession Limit: 10

Spearing, Harpooning, and Dip Nets Seasons and Limits in Minnesota

Sucker

  • Spearing Season: April 29, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024
  • Harpooning, Dip Net, and Seine Season: May 1, 2023 - Feb. 18, 2024
  • Possession Limit: 50

Bullhead

  • Spearing Season: April 29, 2023 - Feb. 18, 2024
  • Possession Limit: 100

Redhorse

  • Possession Limit: 50

Carp, Buffalo, Freshwater Drum, Bowfin

  • Possession Limit: No limit

Gar

  • Possession Limit: 10

Dark House Spearing Seasons and Limits

Northern Pike

  • Spearing Season: From sunrise to sunset Nov. 15, 2023 - Feb. 25, 2024 except where prohibited.
  • Zones and Possession Limit (Size):
    • Northeast Zone: 2 (not more than 1 northern pike over 26")
    • North-central Zone: 10 (either 2 northern pike over 26" and none from 22 to 26" or 1 from 22 to 26" and 1 over 26")
    • Southern Zone: 2 (minimum size 24")

Catfish

  • Possession Limit: 5 (only 1 over 24") (not more than 2 flathead); flathead catfish can only be speared from Nov. 15 - Nov. 30.

Whitefish and Rough Fish (excluding Gar)

  • Possession Limit: No limit

Gar

  • Possession Limit: 10

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