Minnesota wintertime anglers and spearers are taking to the ice under new northern pike regulations in the just-beginning cold-weather season.

The new rules create three northern pike “zones’’ and took effect in May when the open water season began.

The regulations are intended, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says, to reduce the number of “hammer handle,’’ or small, northerns that inhabit many state lakes.

Here are the new northern pike zones, limits and size restrictions:

North-central zone

• Anglers: Limit 10, no more than two can be longer than 26 inches; northerns 22-26 inches must be released.

• Spearers: Limit 10, one between 22-26 inches and one over 26 inches; or two over 26 inches.

Northeast zone

• Anglers: Limit 2; anglers must release northerns 30-40 inches, with one over 40 inches allowed in possession.

Spearers: Limit 2; one over 26 inches.

South zone

• Anglers and spearers: Limit two; minimum size 24 inches.

The new regulations don’t apply to border waters or the approximately 95 individual lakes, rivers and streams governed by northern pike special regulations.

Special fishing regulations on specific waters take precedence over statewide regulations. Special-regulation waters are listed in the DNR fishing regulations booklet and on signs at public accesses.

Anglers and spearers should review how to measure fish properly so measurements they derive match those of a conservation officer.

Further details about the zone are online at mndnr.gov/pike.

License? What license?

DNR conservation officer Mitch Lawler of Alexandria reported significant ice fishing activity in his area last week, noting portable and even permanent fish houses have been pulled onto lakes by anglers using their ATVs.

Lawler urged caution, however, noting in his weekly report that, “Multiple instances of ATVs breaking through the ice in Douglas County have been reported.’’

Lawler also noted he cited one ice angler last week for the sixth time in the past six years for fishing without a license.

Dennis Anderson