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DNR Report: Anglers see mixed results on fishing opener

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of May 15.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (Int’l Falls #1) reports slow fishing opener on Rainy Lake, however very busy on the Rainy River for both walleye and sturgeon fishermen. A few animal complaints were handled throughout the week also. Koochiching County residents are reminded that there is a deer feeding ban within the county, which people need to take efforts to prevent deer from getting into their bird feeders. Place them at least 6-7 feet off the ground. Enforcement action for the week included boat safety violations and license issues.

CO Curtis Simonson (Int’l Falls #2) reports working the Rainy River and Rainy Lake this past week for the MN fishing opener. Anglers reported having some success. Trapping activity was monitored and ATV activity was monitored.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) Monitored the closing days of the spring trapping season, with an increase in activity noted this spring. ATV use has picked up with users reminded to pay attention to seasonal forest and trail closures. Anglers were noted partaking in the annual fishing opener, with a variety of reports heard.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling and boating activities. Forest roads were patrolled for ATV activity. CO Fondie continued work on accidental catches turned in by trappers.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling activity in his station. Anglers had mixed success on Lake Vermilion catching good eating size walleye. Larson encountered violations such as angle for game species out of season, take fish without a license, boat and water safety related violations, invalid angling license, and a illegal use of an OHM upon a roadway.


CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATV, angling and trapping enforcement. Time was also spent attending a community event in Cherry and speaking at an ATV club meeting in Hibbing. Anglers enjoyed great weather for fishing opener, but overall success was limited on local lakes. Violations encountered included illegal length northern, expired registration, and various boat and ATV equipment violations.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time fielding several nuisance bear complaints over the week. Technical advice was given to callers including visiting the bearwise.org website, as it has a good variety of options when living around bears. He and another neighboring officer worked a detail at a nearby lake and encountered several parties who decided to keep walleyes before season. Sport fishing, ATV and alcohol related offenses were encountered during the busy weekend.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating and ATV activity. Fishermen reported good to very good success. Fishing pressure appeared to be lower than in previous years. ATV activity was low as many area trails are still closed. CO Broughten also fielded calls regarding bears, trespass and injured animals.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports angling success was very good, with most anglers having at least some success. Bear sightings have also begun to be reported and homeowners are reminded to remove trash and bird feeders to avoid conflicts. Violations included: taking fish in a closed season, angling with an extra line, and operating an ATV with no registration displayed.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked the fishing opener on area lakes. Time was spent on border lakes and checking anglers in the BWCAW. Ice conditions remained on several lakes over the weekend as one angler was checked sitting on the ice. The officer also attended 911 for kids at the Sawtooth Elementary school. Enforcement action was taken for angling and boating violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) reports a slow start to the open water season, with most folks having a tough time finding fish. Some lakes remain locked with ice but should be open in the coming days. Bears are out and about so make sure low hanging bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, etc. are stored properly. Enforcement action was taken for no life jackets, no license in possession, and unregistered watercraft.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked a busy fishing opening weekend with fantastic weather and overall good fishing success noted. Some people got carried away with a great bite on large walleyes on an area lake and took too many over 20 inches. Time was spent in and out of the BWCAW with enforcement action taken for walleye over limits over 20 inches, fishing without a license, insufficient PFDs, illegal motor in BWCAW, and expired watercraft registration. A litter investigation is underway.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked anglers on a sunny and warming fishing opener in the BWCA. Most lakes are ice free, but some snow remains in the shadows. A complaint regarding prohibited materials being burned in an external wood boiler was turned over to the county’s environmental services for follow-up. Two state forest campgrounds are being temporarily closed to deal with spruce budworm and winter storm damaged trees. Enforcement action taken for angling, ATV and boating violations.


CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports an unbelievably slow fishing opener in Cook County. Very few anglers were contacted, but those that were had full live wells of walleye. ATVs are beginning to come out more often. One operator was arrested for DUI.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked a busy fishing opener along the North Shore. Higher winds made fishing big water a bit difficult but those that found small lakes and sheltered bays found a few fish. A reminder to get all required safety equipment in your watercraft for the season. Enforcement action was taken for watercraft violations and angling with extra lines.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) monitored ATV and trapping activities. Enforcement action was taken for operating an ATV on a state highway and possession of an open alcohol container in a motor vehicle.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, performed safety inspections on water crafts and attended K-9 school with his K-9 partner, Fennec this week. Angler success was good for the opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for possess illegal length walleye, litter, fail to display valid registration on water craft.

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 ATVs and OHMs were out in the area with the nice weather. Many youth were observed riding OHMs (dirt bikes) in the area, and 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 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw a busy fishing opener despite the winds. Quite a few fish were seen caught and overall compliance with laws was very good. CO Willis also attended a wreath laying ceremony for CO Wynn at the St. Paul Law Enforcement Memorial as part of the division Honor Guard.


CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked a busy fishing opener on area lakes. Illegal length fish, registration issues and equipment issues were most common violations. Numerous lakes have special or experimental regulations in the area and please review specific laws to the lakes you plan to fish. Fire season also stepped up this weekend with numerous fires in the area.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) worked fish run activity along the north shore of Lake Superior. Time was spent during the night hours monitoring smelting activity around the Duluth area. Fisherman were checked on area rivers attempting to catch steelhead. The 2023 walleye/northern opener brought out many fishermen on area lakes. Most fisherman reported success throughout the weekend. Enforcement activity included illegal length fish, fishing license violations, watercraft license violations and a few watercraft missing PFDs.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) monitored ATV and angling activity this week. The windy fishing opener was worked this weekend with mild success for most anglers checked. Enforcement action was taken for expired watercraft registration, illegal length northern pike, angling license violations and off-highway motorcycle violations.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) continued work on special projects this week. Fishing opener was this past weekend. Anglers are reminded to check and renew their fishing licenses as needed

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this week preparing for fishing opener. CO Karon spoke at a Firearms Safety Class and assisted at the DNR ENF Academy. ATV, boating, invasive species and fishing patrols were conducted. Many anglers and boaters were checked. Many reported a slow bite on opening day.

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