No license means no fishing, says Minnesota DNR

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 14, 2011 - 11:37 AM

Anglers beware: You could be fined if caught, even if the state government shutdown kept you from getting a fishing license.


DNR conservation officer Adam Block joked around with Rosemount resident Richard Cliff after checking his fishing license in his ice house on Prior Lake last winter.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Anglers fishing Minnesota waters without a fishing license are violating the law and face possible citations, state officials said Wednesday.

It doesn't matter that resident and nonresident anglers can't buy licenses because of the state government shutdown.

"It's black and white -- you must have a license to fish," said Tom Landwehr, Department of Natural Resources commissioner.

Some resort owners -- desperate to retain customers -- have been collecting license money from their nonresident guests and giving them receipts to carry in lieu of a fishing license, saying they will buy licenses for them after the shutdown ends.

That's no good, Landwehr said. "You can't have an IOU or say 'I intended to get a license,'" he said. "You must have a fishing license in your possession while you are fishing."

Violators risk a fine and court costs of about $150.

The DNR explained its position Wednesday after seeing the reports of resort owners issuing temporary fishing licenses, and after the Crow Wing County Board passed a resolution Tuesday seeking clarification.

Commissioners in that north- central Minnesota county expressed concern that resorts would suffer financially if customers can't buy fishing licenses. County Board Chairman Paul Thiede wanted the DNR to temporarily allow nonresidents to fish the Brainerd Lakes area without a license, if they agreed to buy one after the shutdown ended.

But Landwehr said not enforcing the law isn't an option.

"The bottom line is state law says you must have a license," he said.

The state's conservation officers still have discretion whether to issue citations or warnings, said Jim Konrad, DNR enforcement chief. But Konrad said Wednesday that the shutdown is no excuse to fish without a license.

"We certainly are writing some citations for fishing without licenses," he said. "And we're telling people they can't fish if they don't have one."

The state's 180 conservation officers have been pressed to do other tasks during the shutdown, and they are spending far less time enforcing game and fish laws. But they still are enforcing those laws, Konrad said.

Landwehr agreed his officers have discretion but said in this case the issue seems clear-cut.

"I expect when an officer finds a flagrant violation that they will issue a citation," he said. "This is a very simple thing: If you fish without a license, you're blatantly violating the law."

Meanwhile, fishing guide Tom Neustrom of Grand Rapids, a retired deputy sheriff, said the inability of anglers to buy licenses is hurting guides, resorts and other businesses. He's been guiding unlicensed clients and will continue to do so.

"We're telling them to come," he said. "This is our livelihood. What are we supposed to do?"

He tells his clients to bring enough cash to pay for a license and plans to explain that to conservation officers. He hasn't encountered any officers yet.

"It's a bad mess," Neustrom said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Miami - LP: M. Dunn 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 3
Arizona - WP: T. Cahill 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop 5
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Bettis 10
Texas - WP: M. Perez 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 0
Houston - LP: J. Fields 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Rodney 5
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: C. Morton 2
LA Angels - LP: E. Frieri 4 FINAL
Washington - WP: D. Storen 5
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 3 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: B. Shaw 5
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 10 FINAL
Toronto - LP: T. Redmond 8
Chicago WSox - WP: A. Rienzo 6 FINAL
Detroit - LP: E. Reed 4
St. Louis - LP: M. Wacha 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 3
Minnesota - WP: C. Fien 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Lueke 4
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Lackey 5
San Diego - LP: T. Ross 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Philadelphia 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Los Angeles 4
Charlotte 97 FINAL
Miami 101
Dallas 113 FINAL
San Antonio 92
Portland 112 FINAL
Houston 105
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Dallas 4
St. Louis 3 1st OT 9:29
Chicago 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question