Q. Help me settle an argument. I’m almost positive North Dakota or Minnesota residents need licenses from their respective states to legally fish the Red River in a boat or on the ice, but someone else claims a license from either state will work in those situations, even if it’s a North Dakota resident with a Minnesota fishing license or a Minnesota resident with a North Dakota fishing license. Who’s right?
A. I would have put my money on your side in this argument, and it turns out both of you are right. Kind of.
How’s that, you ask?
Here’s how the law reads in the North Dakota fishing guide:
Individuals fishing the Red River and/or the Bois de Sioux River in a boat or on the ice who possess a valid fishing license from either North Dakota or Minnesota may fish the river(s) between the banks of the river separating North Dakota and Minnesota. Individuals fishing the Red River and/or the Bois de Sioux River on the shoreline must have a valid fishing license from the state in which they are fishing. Those individuals possessing the correct, valid license may transport caught fish by the most convenient and direct route to the state in which they are licensed.
As sometimes happens, though, with border waters, the laws can get muddied when Minnesota’s regulations are added to the mix. Here’s what Page 44 of the 2016 Minnesota Fishing Regulations book says about Minnesota border waters fishing:
• Minnesota residents must have a Minnesota license.
• Residents of a bordering state must have their state’s resident license.
• Other nonresidents may purchase a Minnesota or the bordering state’s nonresident license.
In that context, I’d play it safe, and if you’re a Minnesota resident, be sure you have a Minnesota license when fishing the Red River. If you’re a North Dakota resident, be sure you have a North Dakota license. That way, if you’re checked on the water (or ice), you should be covered either way.
Lt. Pat Znajda, a DNR enforcement supervisor in northwest Minnesota, confirmed that requirement. He said the rule applies whether you launch in Minnesota or North Dakota.