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Time to take houses off area lakes

All that snow may make it difficult to remove fish houses this year. The DNR says plan ahead.

A good amount of snowfall is causing a good amount of trouble for area anglers.

Snow pack and drifts on the lakes are making for a tough time hauling fish houses off lakes, and snow or not, time is ticking.

The Minnesota DNR requires houses be removed by certain dates according to where they are located. Houses south of Highway 10, including Detroit Lake, need to be off by midnight this Monday. Those north of Highway 10, including lakes like Floyd, have until March 18.

"People should start making preparations for this because deep snow is not an excuse to leave the fish houses on," said DNR Conservation Officer Chris Vinton, who says anglers who leave their houses on past the deadline are subject to $150 fine, and anything after five days is a $400 fine.

"I know there are some guys out there who have pickups with tracks and are using this as a business opportunity to help get some of those fish houses off," said Vinton, who is also asking that those houses not be left on the public accesses once they are pulled off. "There are a couple of those popping up, and it's kind of like a mushroom situation where if there is one or two sitting there, pretty soon a whole bunch more will pop up," he said.

If that happens, owners can also be ticketed.

Vinton also asks anglers to pick up garbage surrounding their area, as some of it will end up in the lake otherwise.

Vinton says a chisel is usually all that is needed to get the frozen trash and debris out of the snow.

"There are some sportsmen groups that go around picking that up once the sun has melted away the snow, but really, it's not fair that somebody else should have to pick up your junk," said Vinton.

Ample snow could also be spelling bad news for the fish population on a couple of area lakes.

According to DNR Fisheries Specialist Man-dy Erickson, the Detroit Lakes DNR has gotten reports of winter kill on Wolf Lake by Osage and Tilde Lake by Hitterdal.

Winter kill is essentially when the sun can't get to the bottom of a lake to produce more oxygen-creating plants. The existing plants die off and decompose, which also uses up oxygen critical to fish life.

"This doesn't happen every year, but it can occur when there is a lot of slush or snow on the ice or we get an extended winter season, which is basically the case this year," said Erickson, who says low water conditions going into the winter also contribute to the problem. "It's not unusual, but we just haven't seen it in a while because this is the first normal winter we've had for a couple of years," she said, adding that they won't know the extent of the problem until about a month after the ice is off the lake, as the cold water preserves the dead fish for a while before they begin floating to the top.

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