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CO Reports: Brainerd ice fishing contest won with trophy walleye caught by 13 yr-old

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Tues., January 31, 2023

Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports the Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake was successful once again. The winner was a 13-year-old angler who caught a trophy walleye. Congratulations to the young angler on making a memory that will last a lifetime. Unattended angling lines was a common violation outside the contest area.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week on fishing, trapping and snowmobile enforcement. Best and other COs from the area also worked the Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines, unattended lines, no shelter tags and various license/registration issues.


CO Calie Cook (Crosslake) spent time checking multiple anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Cook also worked the Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake and found multiple violations including unattended lines, extra lines and various recreational vehicle violations.

CO Andrew Ladzinski (Pine River) conducted snowmobile patrols on the Whitefish Chain and local lakes in the Backus area. A detail was worked with other local officers for Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake. Multiple unattended-line violations were addressed. Training was attended in Duluth at the U.S. Border Patrol station.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) finished a background investigation for a potential new employee. He attended the funeral for Montgomery Police Department Officer Gordy Prochaska with Honor Guard duties.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked angling and snowmobile activity this week. Guida worked with another conservation officer on a snowmobile detail. Speeding and registration violations were detected. Guida issued car-killed deer permits and fielded a call coming out of the metro from a person who was nervous about the vocal brush wolves in her backyard potentially attacking her little puppies.


District 2 - Bemidji area

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 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.

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.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity over the past week. Enforcement action was taken for angling without licenses in possession, illegal possession of a pine marten and expired registration on a snowmobile.


CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked angling activity and snowmobile trails. Time was also spent following up on complaints and open cases. Holt continued working on a background investigation of an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to focus on ice fishing and snowmobiling activity. Fishing success slowed way down with the recent cold snap. Snowmobilers who dressed appropriately and were willing to brave the weather found that the trails were in great shape and had very few users.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity where cold weather created some challenges for people. Snowmobile trails stayed in very good condition and sled traffic was spread around the state. Hunters and their dogs were checked as they tried to stay on top of the snow in pursuit of rabbits.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) spent time checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken on extra lines, shelter violations, unattended lines, angling without a license, and walleye slot violations. A reminder to anglers that all non-portable ice shelters must be licensed.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked snowmobiling activity and anglers in the area. Enforcement action was taken for speed, snowmobile registration, and extra angling lines. Reports of ice fishing litter were investigated. Fur registration was attended by Benkofske and Wildlife staff in Aitkin.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked ice fishing and snowmobiling activities. Fur tagging was monitored. Extra line and fish house license violations were found. Starr worked a Lake Vermilion detail where extra-line and snowmobile-speed violations were found.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling and snowmobiling activity. She also spent time checking anglers on Mille Lacs Lake and worked at the Aitkin fur registration. Enforcement action was taken for various angling violations, including extra lines and unattended lines. One case involved a walleye struggling at the end of an unattended line. Always remember to pull up lines when leaving your fish house.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes, rivers and trails for angling and snowmobile activity. He received several phone calls about loud snowmobile exhaust and spoke with area officers who have also received several phone calls about loud exhaust. Westby assisted his CO partners with a trapping complaint. Ice conditions are improving in many areas, but watch out for deep slush on many lakes.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) continue to monitor trapping, angling, and snowmobiling activity. Overall, it was a relatively slower week in the outdoors.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity in the area. Lakes continue to be troublesome, with slush in many areas. A snowmobile safety class was also attended. He presented on laws and ethics.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) checked anglers and snowmobile riders. A complaint came in this week from rifle deer season. Follow up will have to wait until the 2023 deer season. Untagged traps were also seized.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) focused on angling and snowmobile enforcement for the week. Angling and snowmobile activity has decreased with the recent cold and variable ice conditions. Time was spent on aeration system inspections and snowmobile education safety talks. Enforcement action for the week included illegal-length northern pike, shelter identification, and various snowmobile- and ATV-registration violations.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week checking anglers and patrolling for snowmobile activity. The snowmobile trail conditions are excellent and several snowmobilers were observed even with the cold weather. Krauel also spent time on equipment maintenance.

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) patrolled the station for fishing and snowmobile activity. He also attended the Sauk Rapids fur registration day. Many nice bobcat were brought in for registration. A complaint of illegal burning was investigated and hunting violations were followed up on. Stennett traveled to the Cambridge station and worked the area for snowmobile and fishing activity. Enforcement action for the week included fishing without a license, no license in possession and ATV registration violations.

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