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December 1, 2006, brought some important rule changes for Minnesota anglers who spear fish.

Under the new law a person may not take fish by angling or use tip-ups while spearing fish in a dark house, except that a person may take fish by angling if only one angling line is in use and any fish caught by angling is immediately released to the water or placed on the ice.

That specific requirement is limited to fish taken by angling. The new rules apply to rough fish, catfish, lake whitefish and northern pike taken by spearing.

WHILE SPEARING, CAN YOU USE A TIP-UP?

Yes. While spearing, a person may use one angling line or one tip-up. The angling line or tip-up may be inside the house or outside the house.

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO JIG OR USE A SPOON IN THE SAME HOLE USED FOR SPEARING?

Yes. A person may angle and spear at the same time in the same hole.

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO HAVE A HOOK EMBEDDED IN A SUCKER BEING USED AS BAIT?

Yes. A person may angle and spear at the same time, a sucker minnow may be used as bait for angling. If a sucker, being used as spearing decoy, has a hook in it, that sucker/hook will constitute the one angling line which can be used while spearing.

CAN THE FISH BE IN A BUCKET THAT'S ON THE ICE, ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE, OR IN A COOLER?

The purpose of this requirement is to prevent leaving game fish on the angling line in the water serving as bait. "On the ice" means not in the water, and can reasonably include being in a bucket, cooler, or on the house floor. The fish can be placed either inside or outside of the house.

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE SPEAR OR ONE ANGLING LINE IN THE HOUSE AT THE SAME TIME?

Each person may use one angling line while spearing. If two people are in a house and only one of them is spearing, the person spearing may use one angling line, and the person not spearing may use two angling lines. It is also permissible to have additional spears and angling equipment in possession in the house provided such equipment is not in use.

The open season for spearing through the ice in Minnesota is Friday, Dec. 1, 2006 to Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007.

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