For the Courier 

Ice Shelters Must be Removed by March 1, Unless Occupied


February 26, 2020

With spring just around the corner, the end of winter is finally in sight. But with spring comes more daylight and warmer temperatures and that means ice conditions will begin to deteriorate. This time of year, anglers should be extra cautious on the ice.

Starting in 2020, a new addition to the FWP fishing regulations for the Eastern District states that: The owner of an ice fishing shelter shall remove it from the ice before it becomes irretrievable at the end of the season, or by March 1. Shelters may remain on the ice after March 1 but must be removed daily if not occupied overnight.

According to Havre warden Andy Matakis, angler safety is the number one reason for this new regulation. “The main intent of this regulation is the safety of the angler. We don’t want people going on sketchy, thin ice to have to retrieve their icehouse or spear shack It’s just not worth losing a life.”

In addition, Matakis said that too many ice houses over the years were going through the ice and resulting in trash, debris and even hazardous chemicals in the water.

“Even though the ice may be fine one day, the next few days could bring a warm Chinook wind that could quickly make the ice rotten and unsafe. With this new regulation, people can take it day-by-day after March 1 if they still want to use their permanent ice shelters. Or, anglers can more easily just use a portable shelter,” said Matakis.

A few other reminders with shelters:

Identification- Identification must be painted on or otherwise affixed to all unattended shelters in legible, 2-inch letters plainly visible at a distance of 100 feet. Identification must include the owner’s name and address, name and phone number, or 9/10 digit ALS number. Attended shelters at Bearpaw Lake and Beaver Creek Reservoir must also be identified.

Inspection- Each closed shelter shall have a door that an officer may readily open from the outside for inspection when it is occupied.

Waste and rubbish disposal- Owners and occupants of shelters are required to keep their shelters (and the area immediately around them) free from rubbish and trash. Anglers must remove waster materials before they leave for the day.

FWP hopes that all anglers have a safe and successful end to their ice fishing season.


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