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Minnesota DNR: Officers remind Rainy Lake anglers of walleye slot limit

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of June 28, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports fishing pressure on Rainy Lake continues to be high. People are reminded that the walleye protected slot limit is 18-26 inches. Trespass issues and nuisance-animal complaints were handled throughout the week as well.

A youth firearms safety class was conducted in the Littlefork area, with 15 students receiving their certification.

Enforcement action taken over the last week involved illegal-length walleyes, overlimits and license issues.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports having a busy week working aquatic invasive species enforcement, recreational boating activity, and checking anglers on Rainy Lake.

Enforcement action taken this past week was for no license in possession, and having illegal-length walleyes in possession.


Anglers reported having success with catching the bigger fish this week but finding the keeper-size fish was tough. Simonson would like to remind people that walleyes 18-26 inches must be returned to the water immediately, with one over 26 inches allowed in possession on Rainy Lake.

Simonson also reports helping out with a firearms safety class this week and attending training.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) assisted with a firearms safety class and field day for youth in the Littlefork area.

Anglers have reported a slight uptick in success, but overall most are wishing for a higher catch rate. Slatinski followed up on public waters complaints. Boating activity in the area remains strong with a high number of users noted to be wearing personal floatation devices anytime the boat is underway.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) report monitoring angling and boating activities. Fishing has slowed with few fish observed. Recreational boating and off-road vehicle activity was checked. Area forest roads were monitored. Equipment work was completed.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling activity and ATV enforcement. Time was spent speaking at local ATV safety classes, conducting follow up on ongoing investigations, and assisting local law enforcement agencies.

Violations encountered included failure to register an ATV; operate an ATV with no headlights; failure to transfer ownership of an ATV; allowing a child under 10 on boat with no life jacket on; and fishing with no angling license in possession.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports time was spent working a detail on Mille Lacs Lake over the weekend. License and boating safety violations were encountered. While on the lake, Zavodnik and CO Fitzgerald responded to a complaint involving an individual stealing items from vehicles at a public boat access. The individual was found to have several warrants out for his arrest and was taken into custody.


CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating and ATV activity. Anglers continue to report limited success, with many blaming the recent mayfly hatch. Boating and ATV activity remained high this week. Broughten fielded calls regarding boat and ATV registration. Broughten also investigated a complaint of a possible public waters violation.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) attended the Ride the Shore ATV event over the weekend. The event saw a very good turnout and compliance was found to be very high. Violations included failure to display current ATV registration, no state trail pass in possession, and angling with non-preserved minnows on a designated trout lake.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and boaters this past week. He continued to follow up on fishing complaints from this spring. Velsvaag continues to get reports of bears near houses and cabins looking for food and complaints of beavers cutting down trees at several different locations.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked anglers, aquatic invasive species and boaters on area lakes. He checked ATV riders in the Finland area during a work detail with area officers.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily angling and boating enforcement. A roadkill bear was taken care of. Violations included watercraft registration, insufficient number of personal flotation devices and navigational light violations.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling activity on area lakes. Schottenbauer hosted several out-of-area officers in an ATV work crew in the area as well this week.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports a full week of activity along the shore.

Bear-related calls are quickly picking up with dry conditions slowing natural food growth in the woods. This has pushed bears toward populated areas. One person in particular called with a bear problem but they refused to take down their bird feeders and instead wished the DNR would come and trap the bear and move it elsewhere. Hill has not heard from the person, but if the feeders are still up, Hill assumes the bear is still around.


An ATV detail was worked in the Finland and Isabella area. Hundreds of machines were seen and Hill is happy to report that only four verbal warnings were issued for minor violations.

Hill spoke with a person about the impacts of littering after he observed an angler flick a cigarette into the water while fishing.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked boating and invasive species enforcement efforts during the week.

Fire danger remains high in the area and caution should be used with any outdoor burning. Angling success was observed to be slower on most inland lakes this week. Murray also assisted with a medical evacuation from a local state park.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) attended training this week and patrolled area lakes for angling and boating activity.

Enforcement action was taken for failure to remove drain plugs from boats and failure to drain water from boats.

Complaints were taken of nuisance bears coming into people’s yards and getting into garbage and feeders. People are encouraged to keep their garbage and feeders out of reach of bears. With recent droughts, bears are having difficulty foraging for berries and other plants so they are resorting to other means of finding food.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) attended firearms training, checked anglers, released an accidentally trapped otter, assisted in the search for a drowning victim and helped stranded boaters get back to shore. Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Si, also attended K-9 unit training and provided a demo at an area event.

Enforcement action was taken for license issues and illegal operation of an off-highway vehicle.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked angling and water sports activity with many in-town and out-of-state vacationers in the area.

Enforcement action was taken for operating an unregistered watercraft, angling without a license and not having enough lifesaving devices on board a watercraft.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on angling, boating, and ATV activities throughout the surrounding areas. Van Asch also spent time speaking at multiple youth ATV safety classes held in Nashwauk. A special thank-you to all the volunteers who assisted with the classes.

Enforcement action was taken for several boating and angling violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) focused on angling and boating activity. Most anglers reported a mid-summer lull and had very low success rates.

Assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies on multiple calls for service and enforcement action was taken for fishing and ATV violations.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) handled wildlife-related complaints and followed up on ongoing cases. A complaint was handled regarding an OHM on a non-motorized trail in the city of Duluth.

Enforcement action was taken for no off-highway motorcycle registration, operating a motorized vehicle on a non-motorized trail, and operating an off-highway motorcycle on a road right of way.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked ATV/off-highway motorcycle enforcement in the townships and forest roads north and west of Duluth and worked a special detail in Itasca County. Schmidt handled nuisance-wildlife complaints during the week in several Duluth neighborhoods.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) checked several anglers throughout the week. Boat and water enforcement was also worked on area lakes. Time was spent at local boat accesses talking with boaters about aquatic invasive species issues.

Duncan reports a dogs-chasing-deer complaint was also investigated. Duncan also assisted local law enforcement with a variety of calls.

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) worked boating safety and aquatic invasive species enforcement during the week. Humphrey investigated a riparian dispute on an area lake, wolf-livestock depredation and a nuisance-beaver complaint. Humphrey also assisted with details involving possible civil unrest.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) attended training at Camp Ripley with the DNR K-9 unit. Watercraft and ATV patrols were conducted in the area with enforcement action taken for registration and personal flotation device violations.

A complaint of a wolf going after a dog was received from the Holyoke area.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked Lake Superior and area lakes focusing on boating safety, aquatic invasive species and angling enforcement. He worked a special detail in Itasca County. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations north of Duluth.

A reminder to pay attention to outside garbage storage and bird feeders, as well as other outside food sources to help reduce black bear encounters.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked boaters and anglers on Lake Superior. An ATV detail was worked for a large event in the Silver Bay area. Compliance was generally pretty good, with several reminders to riders to follow the signs posted on the trail and not just what a third-party map app tells them. Marine equipment was maintained and state parks were checked.

Enforcement action was taken for off-highway motorcycle and ATV violations.

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Katie Rohman has served as the managing editor of the Duluth News Tribune since 2019. She started with Duluth Media Group in 2017 as regional editor of the Superior Telegram, Pine Journal, Lake County News-Chronicle, Eastern Observer and Western Weekly. She has worked in newspapers around the Midwest since 2004.
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