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CO Reports: Lots of slush on lakes, travel difficult

Area MN DNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - January 11, 2021

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) Area lakes have large amounts of snow and slush, which is making travel very difficult. Sullivan also continued working deer-hunting investigations. Sullivan reports snowmobile activity in the area remained high despite the colder weather that came and went. Ice angling continued to be slow due to difficult ice conditions.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked ice anglers having a hard time finding fish. There is a lot of slush on the lakes preventing many people from getting a fish house set up. The snowmobile trails have been busy. Other time was spent investigating late-season trapping.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked trapping, fishing and snowmobile activities this week. Enforcement action was taken for controlled substance violations as well as registration, license and shelter issues.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for expired registration, unattended lines, no shelter license, and illegal-length fish. Benkofske talked with a handful of excited riders who were part of the Big Sandy vintage snowmobile run. A law and safety talk was also presented at the Tamarack Sno-Flyers youth safety class along with a deputy from Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked snowmobile and angler enforcement this week. Enforcement action was taken for license and registration violations. An overlimit of crappies was investigated and the angler was charged. Work also continues on a big-game-hunting violation.

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CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) reports temperatures well below freezing led to slow activity in the recreation area for the week. Ice conditions were checked on several of the mine pits throughout the week, with an average of 9 inches of ice found near access points. Anglers should have good conditions for the upcoming trout opener, but are still encouraged to check ice conditions on their own as they venture out. Enforcement action for the week included license violations and expired registration on recreational vehicles.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity. Snow depth and slush conditions where creating access challenges. He also checked snowmobile traffic, including assisting with a safety course.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) monitored snowmobile activity in the isle area. The warm weather on Saturday brought many riders to the trails. Mille Lacs Lake was also checked throughout the week. The perch bite was good out of Cove Bay, but seemed to be slow everywhere else. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, angling without a fishing license, possession of drug paraphernalia, no shelter license, no license in possession, no identification on a fish house, and unattended lines. Griffith would like to remind anglers to clean up all garbage before leaving the lake, including human waste.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling the area for ice fishing and snowmobiling activity. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, illegal-length walleyes, shelter on the ice without a license, failure to display shelter license, failure to display shelter identification, no angling license in possession, and failure to affix an unexpired registration decal on snowmobile.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) took calls of road-killed deer, trapping incidental catches, and a trespass situation. Numerous snowmobile riders were out and about with the good snow conditions.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement this week. Enforcement action was taken for possessing a small amount marijuana and drug paraphernalia, no shelter license, no shelter ID, unattended lines, extra lines, no fishing license in possession, and failure to display snowmobile registration. Snowmobile safety classes were attended with about 75 kids certified. Calls were fielded about shelter licenses and ATV registration.

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this week checking anglers and working snowmobile activity. Time was also spent attending a snowmobile safety class in Crookston.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked anglers and tagged fur.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Details were worked on Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders. With the frigid temperatures, many outdoor enthusiasts spent their time inside of their fish houses with the heaters running. Area lakes are starting to have a lot of plowed roads and many people are taking advantage of the easy access. Fishing reports are good for a majority of the area for many species. There is also plenty of snow and groomers have been busy maintaining trails. Swedberg worked a snowmobile and fishing detail with CO Landmark where they came across many snowmobile violations, including the arrest of one driver who was operating a snowmobile while intoxicated.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked ice anglers and snowmobile trails. Ice anglers gave mixed reports but mostly a slow bite with a little trouble with slush in areas. Trails were in good shape but the cold has limited some activity. Peterson also worked ongoing cases from the deer season and conducted equipment maintenance.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking snowmobile riders and anglers on lakes and trails around the Remer area. Kunst also followed up on big-game-related cases.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked trapping, angling, and snowmobile activity. She also investigated a trapping complaint.

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CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent a majority of the time during the week on a snowmobile checking trails and angling activity. Not many people were encountered, but the trails are beginning to shape up. Many anglers are struggling with slushy conditions due to the snow we’ve received.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled area lakes and snowmobile trails throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for numerous fishing and snowmobile violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked on a background investigation of a CO applicant. Time was also spent working the snowmobile trails. The trails are in great shape. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV on the snowmobile trails and other ATV violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked area snowmobile trails and checked anglers during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on trapping complaints and monitoring trapping activity. Enforcement activity involved snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and pike spearing activity in the area over the past week, with success had by area anglers for both panfish and bigger gamefish. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling without a license in possession and having expired ATV registration. More and more full-sized vehicles are showing up on area lakes with the colder weather, but slush is present on almost all lakes so travel with care.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working snowmobile, dark house spearing, and ice angling activities. The brief break in the frigid weather gave snowmobilers a chance to enjoy the area trails. Enforcement action was taken for several angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports that outdoor activity levels were highly dependent on the weather over the past week. When the temperatures were bearable, the snowmobile trails were fairly busy. Enforcement action was taken for excessive speed on a snowmobile and registration issues.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines and no registration. Wheel houses are starting to show up on area lakes.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity in the area. A lot more people are getting out on area lakes and having fair success. Administrative tasks were also completed.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers. Krauel also spent time working on equipment maintenance and working snowmobile activity.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the Milaca area for snowmobile activity. The trails were looking good and people were driving responsibly. Hanna fielded a couple of trespass complaints.

Aviation Section

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying wolf telemetry flights and assisting with positioning aircraft for the northeastern Minnesota moose survey.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) worked on the upcoming creel schedule. Scott completed a Lake Vermilion creel flight. He worked on upcoming training schedules.

Standby CO Pilot Jake Willis continued with training tasks as weather made flight training difficult. Equipment maintenance was attended to and new equipment was picked up.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) started the annual northeastern Minnesota helicopter moose survey. Twenty of the 52 plots were completed. Snow conditions are very good, but some flights were delayed due to very cold weather. Some nice bulls were observed, as were wolves. Otters were also seen out on top of the snow crossing a lake.

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew a Fisheries survey flight.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week starting a background investigation. He also monitored snowmobile activity and checked anglers. Open cases were worked on and meetings were attended.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked on case updates and attended meetings on ongoing cases. Snowmobile activity was worked and ice fishing activity was monitored.

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FISHING REPORTS | TRAILS REPORTS | BOATING REPORTS | ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS | HUNTING REPORTS | WILDLIFE REPORTS | INVASIVE SPECIES REPORTS

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