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Subzero temps slow Boundary Waters trout opener

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan. 3.

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District 5 — Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports fur registration was attended at the International Falls Area DNR office. Overall trapper numbers were down in the area, but just about everybody had their furs. A report of a vehicle going through the ice on Rainy Lake was taken. Luckily, the individual was able to get out safely. People are reminded that there is no such thing as safe ice, use caution, and be prepared for the worst.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending time this past week monitoring trapping activity and checking anglers on Rainy Lake and Rainy River. Time was also spent this past weekend patrolling area snowmobile trails. Trail conditions are looking good on area trails. The bitterly cold weekend had many outdoor enthusiasts hunkering down indoors this past weekend.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports angling and spearfishing activity brought people to area lakes, even with less-than-stellar traveling conditions. The extreme cold over the holiday weekend curtailed snowmobiling activity after there was a short burst of activity after the fresh snowfall. Questions on the newly enacted deer feeding ban in Koochiching County were fielded along with questions about fur registration. Work continued on cases initiated during the deer season as well.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports weekend temps at 30 degrees below zero resulted in few outdoor activities taking place. Angling activities were checked with anglers having limited success. Little snowmobile traffic was noted. Area forest roads were checked; most are not plowed. Public access sites were monitored and equipment work was completed.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling, snowmobile, and trapping enforcement. Larson assisted at the fur registration in Tower, meeting with several local trappers who had success this past fall and early winter. He also patrolled local snowmobile trails, which have improved significantly with the recent snow events. Violations related to trapping and snowmobile trail use.

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CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked snowmobile enforcement and angling activity. Time was also spent assisting at furbearer registration in Hibbing. Trappers reported success during the fisher/pine marten season. A cold snap over the weekend brought a limited number of snowmobilers out onto local trails and few people were seen angling.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time assisting the DNR Wildlife Section with fur registration earlier in the week. He also attended a funeral as an Honor Guard member to pay tribute to Itasca County deputy Jayme Williams. Zavodnik continues to patrol area snowmobile trails and work on equipment maintenance.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and snowmobile activity. Anglers reported little success this week. Ice conditions continue to improve but ice thickness varies considerably from lake to lake. Few snowmobilers were encountered this week. Trails on land are just starting to become passable. Broughten received one report of a snowmobile that went through the ice.

District 6 — Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports a good amount of snow fell over the week, followed by extreme cold over the weekend. Some snowmobile activity was seen before the weekend, but it tapered off with the cold. Violations included angling without a license in possession, failure to display snowmobile registration, and failure to transfer registration.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Trail conditions have improved but fishing has been slow. Velsvaag received several calls about trout openers.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trout opener with several officers. Few people ventured into the wilderness with the cold weather. The ones who did landed some nice fish on the ice. Wahlstrom responded to a medical call on the cross-country ski trail and also to a call for a lost couple who were extremely cold and didn’t have any survival gear. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked trap sets and assisted DNR Wildlife with fur registration in Grand Marais. She patrolled area grant-in-aid trails and smaller lakes, worked a chilly Boundary Waters trout fishing opener, and attended the funeral for Itasca Sheriff’s Deputy Jayme Williams as part of the DNR Honor Guard.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked the frigid New Year’s weekend. In spite of the cold, ski trails still saw significant activity and some area snowmobile trails received their first grooming of the season. Quite a few people contacted didn’t have the required ski passes. Snowmobile-registration and -transfer violations were encountered, and unattended lines were found. Appropriate enforcement action was taken. Fur-related items were taken care of as well.

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CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area angling and snowmobiling activity this week. Time was spent working the Boundary Waters trout opener and assisting Cook County with lost hikers.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports seeing a heavy amount of snowmobile activity throughout the week in Cook County. The secret appears to be out that the area has seen quite a bit of snowfall as of late with riders from all over Minnesota being contacted. One citation was issued for failure to transfer a snowmobile title.

Hill also worked a detail in the Boundary Waters during the trout opener that took place on New Year’s Day. Activity was way down compared to other years, but with temperatures well below zero with a deadly wind chill, that was to be expected. Those who braved the cold and started fishing early in the day were rewarded with limits of lake trout. One angler was found to be in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Continued work was done on a trapping report.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked snowmobile and angling activity during the week. Area trails have now had the first grooming of the season and are getting high use. Murray assisted with a fur registration station for marten, fisher, otter, and bobcat. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile registration violations and trespass.

District 7 — Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers, conducted snowmobile enforcement, and assisted with fur tagging. Enforcement action was taken for numerous no-fishing-license-in-possession violations; failure to display ice shelter tags; operating a snowmobile in the median of a divided highway; expired ATV registration; and taking fish without a fishing license.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, assisted with fur tagging, handled injured-animal calls and attended the funeral for Itasca County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jayme Williams this week. The cold weather did not stop many anglers from venturing out this week. Angler success was good on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and operate snowmobile on roadway.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked anglers and trapping activity during the previous week. Complaints involving illegal trapping were investigated. Time was also spent working snowmobiling and ATV riding in the area. Enforcement action involved taking illegal-length walleyes and ice shelter violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity over the last week. With all the added snow in the area many snowmobile enthusiasts are out on the newly groomed trails. Enforcement action was taken for failing to transfer the title of a snowmobile, failing to register and failing to display a registration of a snowmobile.

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With all the extra snow in recent days, slush is starting to be present on lakes and it is a good idea to check ice shelters to make sure they aren’t freezing in. Extra blocking may be advised. Enforcement action was taken for failing to have an angling license and transporting walleyes without a skin patch present.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) focused enforcement efforts on angling and snowmobile activity throughout the surrounding area. Anglers attempting to stay on the ice overnight battled generator and/or propane issues due to the extreme cold temperatures. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, no license in possession, and several snowmobile violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) gave a law and ethics talk to a snowmobile safety class and assisted at a fur-registration station. Snowmobile clubs are working hard and the groomers are out. Extremely cold weather has kept the crowds down, but some hardy snowmobilers were found out on the trails enjoying the fresh snow.

District 8 — Duluth area

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) worked winter fishing on area lakes. Time was spent on snowmobile working the trails and lakes. Duncan stopped in and visited with trappers at fur registration. Other work during the week included online training, equipment maintenance, and nuisance-wildlife complaints.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked snowmobiles and ice anglers. Bitter cold is helping to freeze wetlands along trails and enable grooming. Anglers on the big lake will have to wait to look for fishable ice on the Minnesota side. Wetland Management Area and Aquatic Management Area complaints were received in regards to deer-season violations. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile violations.

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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