Border Water Rules
In an effort to clear up any confusion when it comes to border waters and specifically the border water between MN and WI on the St Croix and Mississippi River, I decided to create this informational link. What you read here is for informational and reference purposes only and is current to today (June 2019). Over the years there has been much confusion and a general fuzziness when it comes to what laws you are supposed to follow when fishing on these border waters. Recently the MNDNR has tried to clear this up in their regulation booklet.
The best way I can explain it was stated very well by another fishing guide (Brian Klawitter). Essentially, consider your fishing license like a driver’s license and the moment you cross the state border on the highway, you now follow the rules of the state you are in (their speed limits, laws, etc). That border line on the river is an imaginary line in the center. As soon as you cross that imaginary border line you are now in that state and must follow their rules/policies. For example. Let’s say you are a MN resident and fishing on the MN side of the river. You must follow MN law and use their legal baits and methods, cross the center line, now you follow WI laws and legal methods. A couple of key differences between the two are the number of lines you can legally use and the types/sizes of baits you can use. In MN we can only use 2 lines and cannot use game fish for bait, once you cross that line you can now use 3 lines and gamefish for bait. Another frequently asked question is shore fishing, and it’s the same rule you can have either license but you follow the laws of the shore you are fishing from.
Now when it comes to bag limits you follow the state you reside in (your residency). You can’t keep more fish just because you are on the other side of the river. If you are a non-resident, then you follow the bag limit rules of the license of the state you purchased it from.
Detailed below are a few bits of information I have collected, the most important being a letter from the Assistant Director of enforcement for the MNDNR Greg Salo.