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Minnesota DNR report: Officers cite many anglers for unlicensed, unmarked shelters

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan. 25, 2021.

District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) continues to report the main emphasis of the workload is ice fishing and snowmobiling activities. The trails are getting better with the recent snowfall, but it doesn’t take them long to wash out with a little bit of traffic. Ice fishing and spearing on the area lakes is slow, which is typical of January.

Enforcement action for the past week included illegal snowmobile exhaust and registration issues. Snowmobile riders should remove the aftermarket exhaust (“cans”), as these could and will lead to closure of trails. In addition, enforcement action will be taken.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending time this past week checking small-game hunters and trappers. This past weekend, Simonson reports working ice anglers on Upper Red Lake. Overall numbers of people out fishing were down. People reported fishing activity being slow for the most part, but had some success.

Enforcement action taken this past week consisted of not having licenses in personal possession, possessing filleted fish on a special regulations lake, and angling with extra lines.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) monitored snowmobile activity and checked anglers on area waterways. Most snowmobile activity has been centered on waterway corridors as the overland trails are still in less-than-desirable condition. Anglers have been on the move with some success observed.


Attempts were made to contact the owner of a vehicle apparently abandoned on public forest lands.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports checking anglers over the past week. Angling success remains poor with few fish observed being caught. Snowmobile traffic remains light and local trails remain poor due to lack of snow. Public access sites and area forest roads continue to be monitored.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Cook) checked a number of anglers and individuals spearing over the past week. Harvest success seems to have slowed considerably as of late, with many anglers reporting a tough walleye bite. Zavodnik continues to monitor snowmobile trails.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) addressed equipment maintenance issues and spent some time patrolling for snowmobile activity. Most area trails are in poor shape and need snow. Despite the rough trails, a fair number of snowmobiles were seen out.

Enforcement action was taken for operating unregistered snowmobiles and failure to transfer. Several trappers have contacted Frericks to turn in accidentally taken fishers and pine martens.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the past week monitoring fishing and snowmobiling activity. Fishing success continues to be limited. Slush on area lakes appears to diminishing. Snowmobile trails are in poor condition due to the lack of snow.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports the colder weather has improved slush conditions on most lakes. The enforcement focus continued to be on trout fishing both inside and outside the BWCAW. Angler success was noticeably down after the weather change. Violations included possession of a snowmobile inside the BWCAW, possession of aluminum cans inside the BWCAW and angling without a license in possession.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked trout anglers and snowmobile riders this past week. Slush conditions improved, but fishing did not. Velsvaag received several calls on trout and pike regulations as well as bobcat trapping.


CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) reports angling activity remains high on trout lakes that are easily accessible. Success was decent for both lake and stream trout. Time was also spent meeting with Fisheries to discuss upcoming plans for lakes in the area. Enforcement action was taken for an overlimit of fish and snowmobile, ATV and license violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) spent some time on the local snowmobile trails checking riders and conditions. A little fresh snow that fell over the weekend will allow some grooming to happen, but trails are still rough in many places as snow cover is thin. She also checked anglers, handled trapping questions and assisted Cook County with a couple calls.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily trout angling enforcement and snowmobile enforcement this past week, as well as following up on cases from the deer season. Enforcement action included taking an overlimit of deer; taking a doe without a permit; unlawful use of a bonus tag; failure to display snowmobile registration; and fishing with extra lines.

Bermel and CO Williams encountered a group in the BWCAW with a gas-powered auger and a 24-pack of beer cans. They also rode their snowmobile into the wilderness, and one individual provided a fake ID with a false date of birth. Appropriate citations were handed out.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling activity this past week. Time was also spent assisting volunteer instructors at a snowmobile safety class.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports monitoring angling activity throughout the past week. Small trout of various species were seen in multiple buckets. A few no-license-in-possession violations were encountered.

Even with minimal snow, snowmobile activity is ramping up in the Grand Marais area and snowmobile registration violations are common. Cross-country skiers are also looking to the sky for some snow.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and snowmobile trails. He also worked anglers, small-game hunters and ATV riders. Numerous questions related to game and fish were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.


CO Vincent Brown (Northome) checked ice anglers and conducted snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing licenses in possession; illegal-length northern pike; fishing with extra lines; and no shelter tag on a non-portable fish house.

Brown helped an individual capture a sick bald eagle for transport to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and worked trapping complaints.

Enforcement action was taken for license issues; possessing illegal-length northern pike; angling with extra lines; expired registration on an ATV; expired registration on a snowmobile; and failure to display registration on an off-highway vehicle.

Angler success was good this past week.

CO Sarah Grell (Grand Rapids) spent time checking area fishing activity. She also performed equipment maintenance and continues to work on trapping complaints.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activity on many area lakes. Ice conditions vary by lake and conditions can vary greatly even on the same body of water. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, not having a shelter tag on a permanent fish house and for operating an unregistered snowmobile.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on snowmobiling, angling and dark house spearing activities. Area snowmobile trails received a dose of much-needed snowfall over the weekend. Van Asch also assisted neighboring law enforcement agencies with calls for service.


Enforcement action was taken for several angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) spent time talking with snowmobilers who continue to report minor improvements in the snow base. They are happy to be able to get out and ride.

Unmarked and unlicensed fish shelters continue to be common violations. See Page 72 in the Minnesota fishing regulations book for shelter requirements.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) checked anglers and snowmobile riders on area lakes. Trails are still in rough shape and in need of more snow. Complaints of injured and nuisance animals were handled, as were snowmobile-registration questions.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent some time working area snowmobile trails. The local trails are getting plenty of use, but definitely could use some more snow.

Winter fishing on area lakes has been busy. Vehicles are getting around pretty good on the ice. With minimal snow and slush, anglers are able to get around on most lakes. Snowmobile-trespass complaints were also investigated.

CO Jake Willis (Brookston) saw heavy angling activity but little angler success in the area. Snowmobile trails are still in desperate need of more snow.

Enforcement action was taken for failure to display registration and no license in possession.


Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) worked anglers and snowmobile enforcement in the Duluth and Two Harbors areas. Olson reports the trails have been in tough shape in and around the Duluth area. Trail conditions improved somewhat around Two Harbors.

Anglers had some success over the past weekend with crappies and northern pike on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for registration violations and a snowmobile-trespass complaint was followed up on in the Meadowlands area.

Reports continue to be heard of great grey owls still being seen with some frequency in the area.

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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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