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CO Reports: Slow bite - And time to start thinking about fish house removal

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Feb. 14, 2023

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked sport fishing, ice shelter, and snowmobile enforcement this week. As the ice shelter removal deadline nears, owners are advised to clean up around and under the shelter before pulling it off the lake. Anglers were checked without licenses in possession. Shelter license and labeling requirements were also enforced. Snowmobile trails are diminishing fast with warm weather and bright sunshine.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports area lakes are seeing less angling pressure as winter progresses. Anglers are starting to target sunfish and crappies. Snowmobile trails in the area are starting to show wear with the recent increase in temperature, but riding conditions are still good. Deer-hunting investigations continued and enforcement action was taken for an overlimit, lending and borrowing a license, and taking big game with an invalid license.


CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) worked snowmobile, fishing and trapping activity this week. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, no license, no shelter tags and operating a motor vehicle on a grant-in-aid snowmobile trail.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time attending training and checking anglers throughout the week. Anglers are reporting a slow bite but people are finding some panfish throughout the area.

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) reports another slow week of angling activity. Many anglers are finding the most action around sunset on local lakes. Training was attended at Camp Ripley. A call was fielded regarding a car-killed fisher.

CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Cook found multiple violations including snowmobile speeders and anglers fishing without licenses. Cook also attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) attended training at Camp Ripley. He worked from the snowmobile. The trails are suffering from the warm weather.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes and patrolled snowmobile trails. Training was attended at Camp Ripley.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports attending training at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken on a number of permanent fishing shelters, placed on public waters, without clear marking or shelter licenses displayed. Calls of dogs chasing deer were also taken. Social media posts generated nearly two dozen TIP calls between Vinton and CO William Landmark. The callers were concerned by the number of fish seen in a photo with just two anglers. After an investigation, Vinton was able to identify the anglers and determined there was insufficient evidence of a crime. The anglers were from out of the area and had between 11 and 15 anglers in their party. Multiple fish fries were had by the party. Conservation officers rely heavily on the vigilance of the outdoor community to “police their own” and monitoring social media is a valuable tool. People are reminded that such posts are only a snapshot of the story and when reported to a CO, those TIPs will be investigated.

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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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CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobilers. Snowmobile trails have started to get rough in areas that see a lot of sunlight, due to the warm weather. Swedberg stopped multiple riders for speed violations on are lakes and wants to remind riders not to exceed the speed limit.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week focusing on snowmobile and ice angling enforcement. The warm weather brought out a lot of people, but trail conditions are poor. Fox also attended annual training at Camp Ripley.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, worked fishing shelter enforcement, and checked anglers and snowmobile riders.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Corey Sura (Remer) attended annual training at Camp Ripley. Area trails and lakes were patrolled. Large crowds of people took advantage of the unusual February weather over the weekend by getting outdoors. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, fishing with set/unattended lines, and no shelter licenses.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling, snowmobiling, and ATV enforcement. Training was attend at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile, big-game, ATV, and angling violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports attending training, participating in an outreach event, conducting aerator inspections and checking anglers.


CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) worked area lakes, attended Division training during the week, and put on a firearms safety field day. The warm weather has taken its toll on some of the trails. Enforcement action was taken for fishing after revocation, extra lines, unattended lines, along with various snowmobile violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes and trails for activity. Enforcement time was spent on Leech Lake and overall a slow bite was noted. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. She also followed up on ongoing cases.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued to check anglers and snowmobile trails. The bite remained slow and the warm weather has eroded some spots on the snowmobile trails. Mathy also attended annual training and attended a Bear Committee meeting. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity and found many people had good fishing success. Anglers had good luck catching panfish and pike over the past week. Multiple road-killed deer-possession tags were given out as well.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked ice fishing and recreational vehicle activity during the previous week. Time was also spent checking snowmobile trails and trapping activity. Holt attended training at Camp Ripley.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time talking with anglers who were enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine. Most anglers reported a midwinter lull in fishing success, but some were able to find the schools of crappies and did well. Snowmobile trails were patrolled and overall compliance for speed and registration was good.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity. Pleasant weather had anglers out catching perch and crappies. Snowmobile riders were out but trail conditions deteriorated rapidly with the thaw. Verkuilen also attended training and checked trapping activity.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked snowmobile and area lake activity. Griffith assisted with a snowmobile safety class over the weekend with the help of local agencies. Trapping and litter complaints were followed up on. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, a perch overlimit, and expired snowmobile registration.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for failing to stop at stop signs, snowmobile speed, and angling without licenses. Calls of dogs chasing deer and litter were investigated.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked angling and snowmobile activities and found warm weather bringing many folks out. A Lake Vermilion detail was worked and violations for unattended lines, no license, snowmobile speed, and no registration were found. Snowmobile registration issues continue to be worked on.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobiling activity. Enforcement action was taken for various angling violations. She also spent time attending annual training.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week attending training at Camp Ripley. Station patrols to check anglers and monitor snowmobile activity were also conducted. A snowmobile-trespass complaint was fielded and investigated as well.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) attended training, talked to youths and parents during a firearms safety training class in Harding, monitored angling and snowmobiling activities, fielded snowmobile-trespass complaints, and spent time with the new CO PREP candidates answering questions regarding the upcoming CO Academy. There was an increase in overall activity with the warmer weather. Anglers report the fish bite continues to be slow despite the warmer weather. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license in possession, no identification on a fish shelter, and various snowmobile-registration violations.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) attended training this week. He also worked a detail with CO Le on the Horseshoe Chain. He fielded calls from people with questions about where to locate a future firearms safety class.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) focused on following up with deer-hunting violations from the previous year and angling enforcement. Time was spent participating in training and presenting at a firearms safety class in Cokato. Enforcement action taken for the week included angling without a license, deer hunting with an invalid license, lending/borrowing a deer-hunting license, and numerous ATV and snowmobile violations. As a reminder, it is a good time to start planning ahead for fish house removal. The warmer weather could make for a challenging removal effort.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the area for snowmobiles. Hanna then patrolled for ice fishing activity. Hanna enforced littering laws on the area lakes.

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) worked the station for snowmobile and fishing activity. He also followed up on investigations. The trails have been holding up so far with the warm weather but are starting to take a beating. A TIP call of a dumped deer carcass was investigated and found to be a legal car-killed deer that was butchered and dumped on private property. No violations were present. Stennett assisted in setting up the TIP Wall of Shame at the St. Cloud Sport Show and attended the show for a few hours with a TIP volunteer. Stennett worked the Lake Julia Ice Day event with CO Trent Seamans. Enforcement action for the week included recreational vehicle registrations, fishing without a license, fishing without licenses in possession, fishing with extra lines and shelter tag violations.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers and patrolling for snowmobile activity. The snowmobile trail conditions are slowly deteriorating and several snowmobilers were observed in the warm weather. Krauel also spent time on equipment maintenance.

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