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CO Reports: Can I keep it? Numerous area lakes have special panfish regulations

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - May 16, 2023

Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) worked a busying angling opener. Numerous anglers were checked with sunfish and crappies. Officer Guida would like to remind anglers to check lake regulations for panfish daily limits. Some contacts were made where anglers were not aware of the limit restrictions. Officer Guida reminded boaters about requirements on safety related equipment. A call was fielded where a lakeshore owner was hazing geese with a pellet gun to keep them away from their green grass.

Among area lakes with new regulations 10 are located in Cass County, 1 in Crow Wing County, 1 in Mille Lacs County, 2 in Hubbard County, and 4 are in Itasca County.

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) patrolled his station lakes during the busy fishing opener weekend. Anglers are reporting a slow walleye bite, with better luck on crappies and northerns. He followed up with a duck taken out of season and other ATV violations. He would like to remind anglers that it is required to have your license in possession while fishing.


CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) Worked a busy week leading up to fishing opener, many complaints were handled for targeting game fish out of season. Fishing opener weekend was very busy with many limits of Trout coming off the mine pit lakes. Enforcement action included license, and watercraft registration violations.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) worked the fishing opener and saw less than average anglers participating. There was some rain, but the temperature was comfortable. Most anglers checked had few fish to report. Spoke at a Firearms Safety Class at Cuyuna Range Elementary School.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Time was spent instructing a boat operations course at Camp Ripley. Officer Vollbrecht worked details on Mille Lacs Lake and the Whitefish Chain of Lakes near Pine River. Numerous boat safety and angling violations were detected.


CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a windy, wet fishing opener on Saturday. Many of the anglers fishing the rivers still found the walleyes. Public accesses were patrolled for AIS compliance and a few ATV operators were contacted. Anglers pursuing their own shiners and minnows should be reminded that without a commercial bait harvesters license and tagged equipment, seining in infested waters is prohibited. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display valid watercraft registration and no angling license in possession.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) assisted with training during the deputy boating school this week. Several counties participated in the training and received hands on experience with boat approaches and some advanced maneuvering with the patrol boats. CO Swedberg also worked a busy fishing opener with many shore and boat anglers checked. Most anglers were law abiding with most of the violations being related to boating. Other time was spent for an upcoming training in the metro.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week patrolling for ATV and angling activity. Fishing opener this year was slower than normal for most anglers. Lake Itasca had the most walleye caught compared to other lakes in Clearwater County. Violations this week included fishing without a license, ATV and boat registration issues, and litter.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked anglers and noted some success for some and slow for others but overall nice weather. CO Peterson also worked trespass complaints, and boat and water safety.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked the end of beaver trapping season, ATV patrol, and the Minnesota Fishing Opener. Cross saw heavy traffic on the lakes in the Bemidji and Park Rapids area. Success on the lakes was mixed, but the good weather was welcomed by the anglers after the hard winter.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) saw an uptick of activity in the station with the fishing opener as well as trails and forest roads in Huntersville and Paul Bunyan State Forest opening. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of boating and fishing related violations, and an ATV stop resulted in a DWI arrest.

CO Patrick McGowan worked a busy fishing opener weekend. Success varied lake to lake, but numerous boaters were out. Enforcement action was taken for numerous fishing and boating violations.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers on a busy fishing opener weekend. A nuisance beaver complaint and walleye out of season tip were also received. Mathy also taught at the Conservation Officer academy. Enforcement action was taken for boating, angling, and AIS violations.

CO Corey Sura (Remer) reports working angling and ATV activity over the fishing opener weekend. Fishing success was on the slower side, however, people didn’t seem to be to upset given the great weather conditions. Enforcement action was taken for possessing illegal length northern pike, fishing without a license, expired boat registration, and operating ATV’s on the state highway.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling activity and took calls regarding nuisance bears. Enforcement action taken on fishing without a license, expired reg, and illegal length northern.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) – Reports a busy week leading up the fishing opener. Opening weekend yielded less anglers than in recent years but most anglers had luck catching panfish during the day and walleyes in the evening/night. Very few violations were observed which was one positive note. Some enforcement action consisted of no angling licenses, no license in possession and safety equipment and registration violations.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked spring angling and ATV activity in the area. CO Sutherland took enforcement action for having illegal length walleyes and northern pike. CO Sutherland also took action for anglers that hadn’t purchased angling licenses, failed to register watercraft, failed to have registration displayed on a watercraft and not having enough life saving devices on board a watercraft. Many ATV’s and OHM’s were out in the area with the nice weather. Many youth were observed riding OHM’s (dirt bikes) in the area and a good reminder for parent is that children and adults alike are reminded that they can’t operate those vehicles in the road right-of-way.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) focused on fishing and boating safety during the previous week. Time was also spent investigating a wildfire. Holt worked a busy fishing opener weekend in the Grand Rapids area. Enforcement action was taken for boating safety and fishing violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) patrolled area lakes during the fishing opener. Walleye fishing was OK overall, but it seemed like the panfish bite was better. More and more ATV complaints are starting to come in with the warmer weather. Time was also spent instructing boat and water deputies from different agencies throughout the state in water survival techniques.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) ) spent time on Mille Lacs Lake and other area lakes for fishing opener. ATV activity was also monitored. Enforcement action was taken for ATV helmet violations, lifejacket violations, and other watercraft safety violations. Angling success was good on Mille Lacs Lake.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and ATV riders in the area. Enforcement action was taken for no lifejackets, fishing after suspension, and illegal length walleye. Benkofske also responded to multiple wild-fires and traffic accidents.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked night-time fish run activities with bow fishing for suckers causing some landowner concerns. Violations for spearing suckers at night and no fishing license were found. A trespass case was also dealt with. Opening weekend was fairly quiet and walleyes were cooperating. ATV activity was up, with riding on State Highways, no registration, failing to transfer ownership, and no safety certificate violations found. A wolf depredation complaint was investigated with two calves reported to be killed.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ATVing, turkey hunting, and fishing activity. The officer worked opening fishing on Mille Lacs Lake and other local lakes. Enforcement action was taken for various boating safety equipment violations. The officer would like to remind boaters to have all safety equipment in boats.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and rivers for angling and boating activities. Time was spent at Camp Ripley assisting in boating school for area Sheriff’s departments for their boating operations and enforcement. 2023 fishing opener was a busy weekend with several people out enjoying the rain and wind. Pan fish were biting well on lakes and walleyes were tough to locate. Please make sure to pick up your garbage along the shorelines, as several bags of garbage was pulled from Blanchard dam and other local areas. Please take time to look over the boating regulations as many people are getting boats out and do not have all proper equipment.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) gave instructions and assisted with training at Camp Ripley for deputy boat and water school. Completed investigations from the previous bear hunting season. Checked anglers on shore and on the water over the fishing opener. The fish bite over the weekend was slow, but a few were able to find success on area lakes. Responded to a call of an injured bald eagle. The eagle was captured and turned over to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. Enforcement action was taken for youth operator of ATV without a helmet, fail to display ATV registration numbers and decal, prohibited operation of off highway motorcycle, fishing without license in possession, no PFD onboard watercraft, no Type IV (throwable) PFD onboard watercraft, and fail to submit bear tooth,

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling, boating, AIS, trapping and ATV activity in the area. Turkey hunters in the area are having some success. Bass catching season is here the releasing part has been reinforced to several groups this past weekend.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) focused on angling enforcement for the week. Time was spent patrolling area lakes and rivers for angling and boating activity. Many anglers were happy to be out for fishing opener despite damp weather conditions. Enforcement action taken for the week included angling without a license and various boating related violations.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking fishermen, boaters, and trappers. Enforcement action was taken for no license, no PFDs, illegally set traps, and untagged trap. Injured animal calls were handled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) continued to work on the winding down turkey season and also worked the opener of fishing season. Other agencies were assisted with various calls for service. Enforcement action for the week included fishing without a license, taking an over limit of crappies, taking illegal length northern pike, fishing with extra lines and various boating equipment or registration issues.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week preparing for a busy opener. Anglers were finding success on area lakes and numerous anglers were found to be in possession of their limits. CO Krauel also spent time assisting with the CO academy and training with K9 Bolt.

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