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Despite spotty fishing, Upper Red producing crappies for most anglers, DNR officer says

In the Blackduck area, new snow improved trail conditions, and snowmobilers were out on the trails despite the mercury dropping below zero over the weekend.

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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, Jan. 30.

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) enforced coyote hunting, snowmobile and angling activity around Lake of the Woods and Roseau counties. Enforcement action for the week included multiple anglers without licenses as well as anglers possessing marijuana. Various angling violations were also addressed. Assistance was given to CO Hams with a careers talk at Warroad High School.

CO Tony Hams (Warroad North) spent the week checking anglers on Lake of the Woods and following up on various complaints. Violations encountered were angling with extra lines, angling without a license, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

CO Coby Fontes (Baudette East) spent the week enforcing ice fishing laws and regulations. Violations encountered were extra lines, unattended lines and angling without a license.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) gave a presentation to three third-grade classes at the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Elementary School on furbearing mammals of Minnesota. A hands-on display of the district’s fur collection was utilized, as was a presentation on habitats. Area snowmobiling and angling activity was also monitored.


CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working angling activity on area lakes and patrolling area snowmobile trails. The new snow improved the trail conditions throughout the area, and snowmobile enthusiasts were out on the trails in spite of the mercury dropping below zero over the weekend. Regas worked a trail speed enforcement detail with CO Hutchins monitoring snowmobile activity. Overall, the compliance was great, with very few violations encountered. Regas registered furs for trappers unable to attend the fur registration. Violations encountered and addressed this week included multiple anglers angling without a license.

Based on DNR creel surveys, anglers landed an estimated 15,000 crappies this winter on Upper Red, compared with about 900 crappies, on average, over the previous 10 winters or more.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a busy week on Upper Red Lake. Angling success has been spotty, but most anglers are seeing some crappies being caught. Time was spent working angling and snowmobile activity, as well as assisting Beltrami County with a call for service in the middle of Upper Red Lake.

Warroad South – vacant.

Baudette West – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports working a snowmobile detail in the Blackduck area. Time was also spent checking anglers on area lakes. ATV and snowmobile operators were also checked.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored angling activity on area lakes. Local snowmobile and cross-country ski trails were patrolled. Complaints of dogs chasing deer and individuals feeding deer were followed up on.


CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports the coldest air of the season hampered snowmobile activity later in the week and fishing on area lakes has slowed. An accidentally caught bobcat was reported, surrendered and sold by Vinton to a local fur buyer. The future of trapping and the fur industry were discussed at length. Area aeration inspections were conducted.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent conducting aeration inspections.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity on area lakes. Trails and lakes were worked for snowmobile activity. An equipment meeting was attended in Bemidji. Follow-up on open cases was conducted.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week working on a background investigation. He also followed up on a fish house littering TIP. Enforcement action was taken for litter.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week patrolling for snowmobile and ice angling activity. Snowmobile patrol of the Itasca State Park trail system was conducted. Violations this week included deer feeding in a county affected by the feeding ban and no license in possession for ice anglers.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training and worked snowmobile enforcement and ongoing cases.

Bagley – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) checked anglers and fish houses, as well as ATV and snowmobile operators. Angling success was down with the cold weather, but anglers were still out trying as best they could. Aeration inspections were completed in the busy Fergus Falls area.


CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) assisted local volunteer instructors with a snowmobile safety class, certifying 28 youth in the surrounding areas. Plautz monitored fishing complaints and snowmobile riders. Fur registration was attended, with fewer trappers seen than previous years.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked area lakes for fishing activity. Osborne found that getting around on area lakes was difficult unless roads have been plowed. Fish house-related violations were common throughout the week. Please have identification displayed on fish houses and purchase your shelter license.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) focused attention this week on area lakes with large groups of shelters. Lots of anglers were found in violation of angling with unattended lines. Repeated conversations with anglers of all ages explained how tip-ups can be tended at a longer distance, but jig poles and rattle reels are much different and need to be within sight. Snowmobile riders were monitored, with a few recent snowfalls making conditions very good. A background investigation on a CO applicant was also completed.

CO Felicia Znajda (Osakis) patrolled surrounding lakes and found fewer fish in the buckets and fewer anglers than past weeks. Extra lines and other various violations were enforced. She made contact with a juvenile who had speared their first fish that day with Grandpa. She patrolled snowmobile trails throughout the station and had discussions with riders about safety.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the week focused on snowmobile and angling enforcement. She presented at a snowmobile safety class. Minnow permits were also issued.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports fielding questions and continuing work on a background investigation.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers, coyote hunters and snowmobile operators. Baumbarger also worked a saturation detail on Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse with South Dakota game wardens over the weekend.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling and snowmobiling and attended training for an equipment upgrade. Cross also attended a fur registration in Park Rapids. Fishing and snowmobiling remained steady throughout the week, with reports of slow fishing and somewhat rough trails. Finally, Cross responded to a rollover accident where he was able to assist all occupants to safety.


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked snowmobiling, small game and angling activity.

CO Corey Sura (Remer) patrolled area snowmobile trails and monitored fishing activity on area lakes and Leech Lake. Violations encountered included fishing without a license, fishing with extra lines, leaving lines unattended and not having shelter licenses for non-portable ice shelters.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County lakes throughout the week. The bite on Leech Lake and surrounding lakes has been slow. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) continued to spend time on snowmobile and fishing activity. Anglers reported a slow bite. Equipment maintenance was also completed.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports attending training and checking snowmobilers and anglers. Angling activity is high on local lakes, but cold weather is impacting angler success. Some enforcement activity consisted of storing/abandoning an ice shelter at public access, no license in possession, unattended lines, unmarked/improperly marked shelter and no shelter license.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) completed a background investigation of a CO applicant. Some time was spent checking snowmobile trails and anglers. The bite remains pretty slow. Mathy also assisted a trapper with releasing an accidentally caught wild animal from a trap. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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