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DNR Report: Slush on area lakes continues as anglers venture out

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan. 9.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports ice fishing, spearing, and snowmobile activities continue to be the main emphasis of the workload, along with handling various animal-related complaints. Rainy Lake is yielding a few fish, but it is very sporadic. A youth snowmobile safety class was held with several youth receiving their certifications. Enforcement action was taken for illegal ATV operation and license violations.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working snowmobile trails throughout the area and checking anglers on area waterways. Simonson also assisted with a snowmobile safety course held in International Falls.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports snowmobiling activity has picked up as the land trails improved. Efforts of the local trail clubs has been met with appreciation. Lake surfaces are still very rough and off-trail travelers will still find pockets of slush. Ice conditions on the big lakes are still questionable. A reminder to nonresidents to obtain a trail pass for riding on snowmobile trails. Angling and spearing continue, with mixed success observed.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports another week of little activity noted. Snowmobile trails remain in poor condition, with some grooming happening. Area lakes have varying ice thickness, but slush and recent winds have caused significant drifting, which has now refrozen and is making travel extremely rough to say the least. Little angling activity was observed over the week. Equipment work was completed.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily snowmobile and trails enforcement. Larson spent time investigating snowmobile violations resulting in several infractions. He also spent time working on wetlands violations. Violations encountered were related to snowmobile registration, failure to transfer snowmobile title, and no ski pass on cross-country ski trails.

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CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent speaking at a snowmobile safety class in Chisholm and assisting the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office with a fatal snowmobile crash.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time patrolling the area snowmobile trails and checking angling activity. Favorable temperatures and improving snowmobile trails have led to an increase in outdoor activity throughout the region. Several snowmobile operators were stopped due to registration and excessive-speed violations over the course of the week. Riders are reminded to slow down, as several complaints were fielded over the weekend regarding oncoming snowmobilers traveling too fast into the corners. Zavodnik and several other COs assisted the sheriff’s department and Rescue Squad with a tragic, fatal snowmobile crash over the weekend.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobile activity. Outdoor recreational activity was lower than expected. Anglers continued to report limited access on area lakes as well as limited success. Snowmobile trails are being groomed the best they can be. Lake ice thickness varies greatly from lake to lake and in some cases varies significantly depending what part of the lake you’re on.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports snowmobile activity was high and conditions on some trails have improved, other trails have yet to be groomed and lake conditions continue to be very rough and slushy. He also assisted St. Louis County deputies and responded to a fatal snowmobile crash where a single rider had lost control and struck a tree.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent the week checking snowmobilers on the North Shore State Trail and local trails. The trails are in great condition. Time was spent in the BWCAW checking trout anglers. The lake trout were cooperating for most anglers. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) reports both cross-country ski and snowmobile trails are in great condition, and with mild temperatures and sunny skies lots of folks were seen out and about. Another successful Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race was held over the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for modified snowmobile exhaust, expired registration, and no state trail stickers.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked a variety of activities throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, underage possession of alcohol, untagged deer, failure to register deer within 48 hours, and failure to acquire an aeration permit or sign area of thin ice.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked ice anglers and snowmobilers. A complaint was received of an injured deer stuck in the rocks along a rugged piece of Lake Superior shoreline. The badly injured animal was located and dispatched. Complaints of snowmobiles operating with loud exhausts and on closed trails were received and will be monitored. Conditions on lakes are varied for the upcoming trout opener. A little scouting and a saw for downed brush will be good ideas for the upcoming weekend. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile violations.

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CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports continued work on a background investigation for the upcoming Academy. Time was spent on snowmobile and a few registration issues were handled. Hill also answered questions regarding trapping and winter camping. Hill also attended department-wide safety training.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked angling and snowmobile activity this week. Grooming of area trails is in full swing and trail conditions continue to improve. Area lakes have areas of slush making angling opportunities more difficult but some anglers are still finding fish.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week patrolling area lakes. Brown checked anglers and answered questions regarding fishing regulations Enforcement action was taken for numerous no license in possession violations, fishing without a license, unattended fishing lines, and no permanent shelter licenses. Several anglers were also cited for fishing with extra lines.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity in the area. With improving ice conditions, anglers are seeing some success. Many area anglers had walleyes, perch, northern pike and bluegills in their buckets this past week. Enforcement action was taken for having expired snowmobile registration and for not having a license in possession while angling.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored angling and trapping activity. Time was also spent patrolling area snowmobile trails. Holt began working on a background investigation of an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent most of the week patrolling snowmobile trails and checking ice anglers. Local snowmobile clubs are continuing to work hard to clear trails of downed trees and groom them. Most of the trails are clear and snowmobiling conditions are good. Violations included illegal-length fish and expired snowmobile and ATV registrations.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) saw heavy snowmobile activity through this past week as more and more trails continue to improve. Registration violations are still very common both in improper display and expiration. Loud pipes continue to be found on the trail. Riders are encouraged to keep their exhaust stock, not only because loud exhaust is illegal, but this is one of the biggest reasons private landowners change their minds about allowing trails through their property. Enforcement action was taken for failure to display registration, improper display of registration, and operating without registration.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked snowmobile activity and snowmobile trails during the week. Trail conditions have improved greatly as the local clubs have been working very hard to get the trails in riding condition. Time was also spent checking anglers, but slush has been limiting angling activity. He also assisted with a snowmobile safety class.

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CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) completed the final phase of the field training for the Division’s newest conservation officers. Duncan had the privilege of helping CO Dallas Cornell during his training process. Cornell did an outstanding job during his training process and will be a valuable asset for the DNR Enforcement Division. The remainder of the week, Duncan worked snowmobile activity on area trails and anglers on area lakes. The fishing conditions have improved, and the area snowmobile trails are in excellent condition. A few examples of snowmobile violations included modified mufflers and registration issues.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) saw more action on area lakes this week. Most lakes are still seeing some issues with slush, resulting in snowmobiles being the primary mode of transportation on the ice. Training was received this week, and numerous snowmobilers were contacted on the trails as well, with various violations being observed and addressed.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time this week checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders. He also continued working on a background investigation.

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