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CO Reports: Ice houses burn on lake near Nisswa, trout opener busy

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 19, 2023

A firefighter with the Nisswa Fire Department puts out a fish house fire Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, on Roy Lake.
Photo Contributed / Nisswa Fire Department
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District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) responded to a fire on Roy Lake. Two fish houses were a total loss due to the fire . Sullivan also reports the Nisswa 100 cross country snowmobile race brought race families and race fans to the area. Area lakes are seeing lots of ice angling activity. Everyone using area lakes should be knowledgeable of the lakes they are traveling on and research ice conditions.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) worked a busy winter trout opener over the weekend. Most anglers reported having good success, with many limits observed. Enforcement action included license violations.


CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week on fishing, snowmobiling and trapping activity. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing license, no shelter tag, and expired registration.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) checked multiple anglers throughout the week on various lakes in the area. Violations found included failure to have angling license in personal possession, expired shelter licenses and expired ATV registration. Multiple people took advantage of Take a Kid Fishing Weekend and were out enjoying the warmer weather.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked snowmobile and angling enforcement this past week. Assistance was provided to the Nisswa 100 snowmobile race. Guida worked with a local snowmobile club on signage and awareness of a trespassing complaint. Numerous snowmobile tracks were observed off-trail, running over young trees. That activity has threatened easements for snowmobile trails across private property. Please stay on the trail and work to keep other riders in your group accountable. Guida also addressed extra lines, unattended lines, no angling license in possession, and various snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) conducted patrols on local designated trout lakes for the trout-season opener. A detail was worked on the Whitefish Chain with other local officers for snowmobile speed enforcement and ice fishing activity. Enforcement action was taken for an ATV with expired registration. When placing ice shelters on lakes please leave plenty of room from the marked snowmobile trails.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) continued work on a background investigation for a potential new conservation officer. He patrolled the trails by snowmobile, finding low use on the weekdays, and lots of use on the weekend. The trails are improving with snowmobile clubs getting the trails cleared of trees. There’s been limited traffic on the lakes due to slushy ice conditions.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Area snowmobile and cross-country ski trails were patrolled. A Cross-Country Ski Committee meeting was attended and a deer farm inspection was completed.


CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week learning his new station as well as meeting local officers and DNR staff. Truck and radio maintenance was conducted, as were administrative tasks. Snowmobile activity was high. Violations this week included fishing without a license, ATV registration violations, and extra lines.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking snowmobilers and anglers. Many anglers were checked throughout the week, but many reported it was difficult to get the fish to commit. Some anglers had success but really had to work to get fish to bite their lures. Snowmobiling activity also remained high and trails are in great condition.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked Cass County lakes and snowmobile trails. Most anglers in the area are reporting a slow bite. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on snowmobile checking anglers and trails. The trails are getting worn with lack of recent snowfall. The most common violations for the week included failure to display snowmobile registration, snowmobile stop sign violations, and improper/unmarked ice shelters. A litter case was investigated and resulted in additional violations related to the deer season.

CO Corey Sura (Remer) monitored trapping activity in the area, checked anglers on local waters, and patrolled area trails.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked trapping, snowmobiling, and ice angling enforcement. The weekend was very busy with snowmobilers and ice anglers. Enforcement action was taken for trapping, snowmobiling, and ice angling violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checking angling and snowmobile activity. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession and expired registration.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued work on a background investigation of a CO applicant. Some time was spent checking anglers on area lakes. Most anglers report the fishing was slow. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice anglers in the area over the past week. He checked many panfish and walleye anglers out and about on area lakes. Sutherland saw good midseason crappie and bluegill bites with good ice conditions now present in the area. He took enforcement action on anglers not having licenses in possession. Remember when venturing out on the ice to have your license with you, as the law states.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the area. Time was also spent assisting the local snowmobile club with a youth snowmobile safety class. Holt continued working on a background investigation on an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) worked a busy trout opener over the weekend. Weather and slush conditions were good, and the trout bite wasn’t bad either. People have also been able to find schools of hungry crappies that are willing to bite. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, no trout stamp, and other various violations.

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District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked lake activity where shelter numbers were gradually increasing. Snowmobile traffic was worked in different parts of the state and snowmobile riders were making use of mostly good trail conditions. Knowledge of snowmobile registration appeared to be regressing as some operators claimed they didn’t know how or where to display registration.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent time on area lakes and snowmobile trails. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, angling without a license, unattended lines, and illegal-length walleyes. Violations for failing to display snowmobile registration and shelter licenses were also dealt with.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) monitored trails and checked snowmobile riders in the area. Enforcement action was taken for registration, speed, and stop sign violations. Benkofske also seized furs and issued citations to several individuals who violated trapping laws.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked fishing, snowmobiling, and trapping activities. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, unattended lines, snowmobile speed, lack of snowmobile registration, and failure to have a proper fish house license. A case of failure to transfer snowmobile ownership is pending. A reminder for sellers and buyers to transfer snowmobile ownership within 15 days of sale.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobiling activity. She took action for various angling and snowmobiling violations. Area trails were in good condition. Most lakes had 11 to 18 inches of ice and there were still areas with slush.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and trails for angling and snowmobile activities. There were several complaints of snowmobile riders off trails. Many landowners are looking at closing trails. Time was spent speaking with the county attorney regarding cases from this past fall. Westby also attended a safety training meeting.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored small-game hunting and trapping, angling, and snowmobile activity throughout the week. A report of an incidentally taken fisher caught in a bobcat set was taken and the fisher was recovered. Enforcement action was taken for various snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) reports his focus was on snowmobile activity in the area, specifically off-trail trespass. Modified mufflers seem to a popular violation. Follow-up investigation was also completed on a fish house-related TIP.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) patrolled the area for angling and snowmobile activity. Many snowmobilers were taking advantage of the nicely groomed trails and the beautiful weather. Krauel also dealt with a truck driver driving down the snowmobile trail and a young snowmobile rider who fled from officers but left their friends behind. Enforcement action was taken for operating a truck on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail, angling with extra lines, failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding on a snowmobile, and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled area snowmobile trails and area lakes. Trails have come a long way since the first snowfall, having been groomed and smoothed. While on snowmobile, Hanna and CO Seamans spoke with a citizen who thought it was OK to burn prohibited materials. They were educated and the officers resumed patrolling on snowmobile.

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