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CO Reports: Ice fishing seasons begins, be careful, be safe

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 6, 2022

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Jim Guida (Brainerd) checked angling activity this week. A cold stretch has increased ice thickness. Please continue to use caution when on the ice as lake ice thickness varies. Guida also investigated a dogs-chasing-deer complaint. Photographs of the dogs on the property were used as evidence of the suspected violation.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports ice anglers are enjoying area lakes that have enough ice to walk on. Anglers reported a slow bite at the start of the season but were happy to be out on the ice. Deer-hunting activity was low during the past week.


CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) checked deer and grouse hunters this past week, as well as trappers and anglers. Ice conditions vary from open water to 5 inches, at the most. Best also gave two snowmobile safety talks for classes held in Pequot Lakes and Emily.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) reports checking muzzleloader deer hunters and ice anglers throughout the week. Anglers are reporting several inches of good ice on shallower lakes. Anglers are encouraged to check ice conditions often while venturing out.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking small-game and muzzleloader deer hunters throughout the week. Time was also spent attending training and responding to calls for service.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked ice anglers taking advantage of hard water again. He saw more muzzleloader deer hunters compared to last week. He investigated calls of animal carcasses littered on public land.


Read more 'CO Reports'
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 24, 2023
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Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 5, 2023
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 28, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 20, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 1, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 24, 2022
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 15, 2022

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) reports most local lakes froze over during the week. Anglers were checked and some were starting to use ATVs out on the ice. Small-game hunters and trappers were also making use of walkable ice.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and small-game hunters in the area. Complaints of trespassing and deer feeding were looked into. Benkofske also assisted local agencies with disturbances and property alarms.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked on muzzleloader deer season calls, baiting complaints and trespass issues. Ice fishing was off to a good start with some panfish and northern pike showing up. ATV-registration violations and a burning violation were also taken care of.


CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) attended training and worked on equipment maintenance. She spent time patrolling for deer hunters during the muzzleloader season. Ice anglers were also checked.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes for angling activities. Several inches of ice are on most lakes and ready for foot travel, but fishing appears to be fairly slow with only a few fish seen. Time was spent preparing equipment for the winter months. Several phone calls were received for various complaints and questions. Please use extreme caution on the Mississippi River as there is several open areas and water current is still flowing strong.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) conducted equipment maintenance, issued car-killed deer permits, and followed up on the firearms deer season.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked on vehicle maintenance and training tasks this week. He took calls concerning tiling in a wetland. It appears the loss of this wetland was not a violation, much to VanderWeyst’s surprise.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the week checking anglers. Most lakes in the area have walkable ice, but a few still have open areas. Trespass and injured-animal calls were handled.

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Turn in Poachers (TIP) in Minnesota - Report a violation in progress:

To report a violation: call 800-652-9093 24 hours a day, or key in #TIP on your cell phone.

To report a violation that isn't time sensitive: Use the form at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/enforcement/tipreportingform.html

Don't let poachers spoil your future hunting or fishing enjoyment - or success.

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) checked anglers on area lakes. Time was spent following up on deer-season investigations.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers, small-game hunters, and muzzleloader hunters. Cold weather during the week really made an impact on ice conditions, as many lake have 6 inches of ice or more. Fishing remained slow over the weekend, but some anglers were finding some panfish and walleyes. No limits were seen.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked muzzleloader deer hunters, spoke to a snowmobile safety class and responded to calls of an illegal deer stand and a deer shot from the road and left to waste with its antlers cut off.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Corey Sura (Remer) checked early ice anglers, as well as a handful of hunters partaking in the muzzleloader season. Annual training was completed, and a shining complaint was investigated. Enforcement action was taken for failure to register deer as required.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and hunting activity. Hughes reminds people to use caution when heading out onto the ice.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked deer archery/muzzleloader season, small-game hunting, and early ice fishing. Activity remained consistent throughout the week and Cross saw more anglers heading out onto local lakes. Ice conditions in the area continue to range from limited to no ice, to some area lakes having 5 to 7 inches. Additionally, a late-season deer hunt was added to Cross’s station to include deer Permit Area 184, which will be held Dec. 16-18.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked ice anglers. Activity is increasing as the ice slowly gets thicker. The ice is still quite variable with open water to about 8 inches of ice seen in the area. Mathy investigated an incident where three deer carcasses were dumped. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and angling violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) made contact with anglers out on several lakes. Many anglers were going out for the first time and had a few fish in the bucket. Fishing violations were addressed, with various enforcement action taken. He is still seeing some muzzleloader hunters.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers, checked trapping activity, and completed equipment maintenance. As temperatures decrease, he has seen an increase in the number of people getting out onto the ice. They’re having decent success. One group of anglers found out the hard way that using only the winch to secure their ATV to their snowmobile trailer was a bad idea. The group made it 10 miles before they realized they had lost an ATV. Luckily, the ATV stayed upright on the highway and didn’t cause any collisions.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) and COC Roemeling spent the week continuing investigations on spruce-top thefts and a big-game-violation case. Several anglers were checked this past week and were having moderate success. Ice conditions on area lakes varied.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked muzzleloader deer-hunting and trapping activity throughout the previous week. Time was also spent checking anglers and ice conditions on area lakes. Ice conditions vary and caution is advised. Holt continued to follow up on cases from the firearms deer season.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor small-game hunting, muzzleloader hunting, and ice angling activity. Ice thickness varies dramatically from lake to lake, but many people were able to find sufficient ice on smaller lakes. Follow-up work was done with ongoing cases and several trespass complaints were fielded.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week following up on big-game cases. Krauel also spent time checking area lakes for ice conditions, which are still very dangerous in the area.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) checked anglers on area lakes. Anglers were reporting ice thickness to be around 3 to 4 inches. With the colder weather, the ice is expected to increase in thickness, thus beginning the ice fishing season.

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