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CO Reports: Good trout bite near Osage, many anglers on Cuyuna Mine Lakes

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - May 18, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO (Conservation Officer) Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA- Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area) reports working the fishing opener in the SRA. Lots of anglers were out trying their luck for some trout. Quite a few fish were seen and anglers were enjoying the nice weather. Boat and water activity, along with AIS, was monitored throughout the week and weekend. The SRA was checked for illegal ATV and vehicle traffic and park passes were checked throughout the park area. Assistance was given to some lost park users and many outdoor law-related questions were fielded during the week and weekend. Enforcement action for the week included various fishing and state park-related violations.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) worked ATV activity and angling activity. One angler who had been cited by a different CO earlier in the day for fishing without a license had purchased a license just 10 minutes prior to Ladd having contact with the angler. Ladd observed the license and then checked the angler’s stringer, which had a largemouth bass on it. She took enforcement action.

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw many anglers enjoying fishing opener weekend. Everyone agreed the weather was great for being on the water. Success rates were mixed. Few people caught a lot. A lot of people caught a few. He worked an Honor Guard detail at the funeral for retired CO Wallace.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) reports a busy opening fishing weekend. Time was spent on Cass and Crow Wing county lakes. Enforcement action was taken for numerous angling and boating violations.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) patrolled area station lakes during the busy fishing opener. Numerous anglers and boaters were contacted and enforcement actions were taken on various license and boating equipment violations. Area anglers are reminded to check the North-Central Zone pike restrictions when keeping northern pike.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) focused on area angling activity over the weekend. Area fishing reports were good with anglers catching a variety of species. Angling violations included illegal-length fish, no angling license and possession of bass out of season. Sullivan also assisted one angler who was stranded on the water after battery issues.


CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) responded to illegal fires and numerous littering issues this week. Enforcement action was taken for no helmets, registration issues, no fishing license, extra line, illegal-length pike, and operating on a closed trail.

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District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked fishing opener. The number of anglers was high and the walleye bite was decent in some places. The trout bite was good. Peterson also worked littering and wildlife-related calls.

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports starting work on two wildfire-related cases this past week. Time was also spent checking anglers and watercraft operators. Many anglers were contacted during the fishing opener weekend. Various watercraft and angling violations were encountered.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a very busy opening weekend of the walleye and northern pike season. Anglers enjoyed the great weather and good fishing. While driving to one of the lakes, he encountered a truck that had overheated and broken down in the intersection. With assistance from a local deputy, officers pushed the vehicle out of the intersection while the operator steered so it was no longer blocking the flow of traffic. Vollbrecht assisted with arresting an individual who fled on foot after a traffic pursuit. The individual was hiding from the K9 in a partially blown-down tree. Individuals are reminded to check for boating safety equipment before going on the lakes.

CO Hannah Mishler (Bemidji #2) reports a busy fishing opener weekend, with high compliance on both angling and boat and water safety regulations. A nuisance-bear complaint was also handled over the course of the week.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports the weather for the statewide fishing opener was beautiful. Vinton assisted with security for Gov. Walz during the annual Governor’s Fishing Opener. Although the weather was great, the fishing was slow. Vinton and CO Oldakowski, along with Lt. Seefeldt, assisted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Perham Fire with a kayaker who had rolled in the Ottertail River and was wedged under a snag. The kayaker was uninjured in the swift water but needed some assistance from Perham Police Officer Stromme to get to shore. The kayak was recovered by Perham Fire. Enforcement action was taken for no angling license in possession, ATV in the ditch south of Highway 10 and watercraft-registration issues.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking anglers and boaters around the Detroit Lakes area. Many people were seen out on the water as the weather was perfect. Fishing was hit or miss around the area with many anglers having success but others not being able to find any fish. Swedberg worked with CO Chihak over the weekend and ran into some violations, mostly related to the first weekend people were getting their boats in the water. Swedberg also assisted one group when their motor started on fire while they were trying to launch their boat. Luckily the fire didn’t have a chance to grow and no one was injured. Other time was spent assisting Becker County with calls for service and following up on a trapping complaint.


District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) worked angling and boating safety during the previous week. Time was also spent checking bowfishing and following up on wildfire investigations. Holt worked a busy fishing opener weekend in the Osakis area. Enforcement activity involved boating safety violations, lack of fishing licenses and angling with extra lines.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were focused on checking anglers, boaters and turkey hunters, and monitoring AIS law compliance. Great weather over the opener brought out many anglers and boaters. Most anglers had a hard time putting any walleyes in the box. Baumbarger handled several nuisance-animal complaints, and spoke to first-graders at the local elementary school about local wildlife and boating safety.

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports walleye fishing was slow overall for most of the area lakes. Richards and other COs assisted with the Governor’s Fishing Opener on Otter Tail Lake. The law and ethics presentation was given to a local firearms safety class. Enforcement activity for the week was for violations related to fishing, boat safety, AIS, and recreational vehicles.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked all weekend on the water during a very busy fishing opener. Lots of anglers were contacted. Some were having luck and some were not. Several citations were issued to anglers for no license, no PFDs onboard, expired registration and PWC violations. A turkey hunting case was completed with multiple citations issued and multiple birds seized, and an open-line radio interview was conducted with fishing opener as the topic.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked trapping and fishing. Cross also responded to a wildfire and a medical emergency. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, extra fishing lines, expired watercraft registration, failure to display registration, and no license in possession.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) spent this past week getting ready for fishing opener. Baum responded to multiple calls early in the week about bears in the area of residences. He patrolled for recreational vehicles earlier in the week and took enforcement action for operating without headlight. Baum patrolled area lakes and took enforcement action for no license in possession, not enough life jackets, no throwable floatation device, no fire extinguisher, and keeping bass out of season. Baum wants to remind boaters to check for the required safety equipment before operating the watercraft.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and boating activity. She also responded to a call of an injured fox. Enforcement action was taken for no license in possession and expired registration.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) checked multiple anglers and ATVs over the week. Some anglers had success on various lakes in the area over the opening weekend. Enforcement action was taken for an overlimit of crappies, angling without a license, failure to have life jackets on a boat and expired watercraft registration. Kunst also went to a fire call and received calls on nuisance-beaver trapping and bear-related complaints.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers, boaters, and AIS. Anglers were having mixed success for walleyes depending on location and fishing methods. Enforcement action was taken for several angling and boating violations.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent the majority of the week on the water working fishing and boating activity. The weather was unusually warm for the fishing opener and many people took advantage of the opportunity to get out on the water. PFD compliance was good with only a few violations of no Type 4 throwable encountered. Enforcement action taken included fishing without a license, possessing walleyes and northern pike in the protected slot and no license in possession. Several questions were fielded regarding the new combination angling license purchase process.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked angler activity. Common violations were no licenses and illegal-length fish. A lot of boats are just hitting the water too soon as some people didn’t get their new registration attached, fire extinguishers maintained, or life jackets put back in. Verkuilen also checked turkey hunters, answered burning questions, and monitored ATV traffic.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked a busy fishing opener on Mille Lacs Lake over the weekend. Many anglers were successful. Griffith also monitored ATV activity and AIS compliance. Enforcement action was taken for multiple fishing and watercraft violations.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) worked the busy weekend of fishing opener, patrolling fishing and boating activity on Mille Lacs Lake and other area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for drug paraphernalia, small amount of marijuana, fishing without a license, no license in possession, failure to display valid boat registration, failure to have a fire extinguisher in the boat, failure to have a throwable PFD in boat, and transporting a boat with the plug in.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked a busy opening weekend with nice weather and some fish cooperating. Bass were found being caught and released, while walleyes were a bit fickler. Violations for illegal-length walleyes, no license, and lack of boat registration were found. Compliance on PFDs and other boating regulations was found to be good overall. ATV registration issues were also addressed. He assisted local law enforcement on a kidnapping call.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing, boat and water, ATV, turkey, and fire-related activity this week. Many anglers were checked on Mille Lacs Lake and other area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for various boating, fishing, ATV, and controlled substance-related violations. Anglers are reminded to check their safety equipment before heading on the water.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored ATV activity, checked turkey hunters, and worked the fishing opener. The majority of anglers on area lakes report a slow bite with few fish being caught. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, no license in possession, expired boat registrations, failure to display valid boat registration, and no personal flotation device onboard a watercraft.


CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent time during the week checking anglers and working evening bowfishing activity. The fishing opener was worked and many anglers were seen out trying their luck. Silgjord and CO Klehr assisted a stranded boater on the Horseshoe Chain. Violations for the week included no angling license, insufficient PFDs, and angling with extra lines.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity this week. He also monitored boating safety and AIS compliance. As in year’s past, VanderWeyst continues to find a very distinct difference between common anglers and bowfishers. A near-100-percent-compliance rate among anglers and just the opposite among bowfishers. Violations included transporting aquatic macrophytes, insufficient life jackets, inoperable navigational lights, no license in possession and litter.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports a very busy fishing opener weekend. He reports seeing a mixed bag of pike, walleyes and panfish. Those who didn’t have any luck still enjoyed the beautiful summer-like weather. Enforcement action consisted of numerous angling, watercraft safety and ATV violations. He also reports assisting people with several wildlife-related incidents.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports having a busy opener. One angler noticed Bertram approaching his boat and quickly threw an illegal fish out of his boat. Unfortunately for the angler, the fish was dead. Bertram retrieved it off the water and issued the angler a citation for the violation.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking anglers and bowfishers on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken throughout the week for no licenses, illegal-length fish, no boat lights, youth without helmets on ATVs, and unlawful fires. Benkofske also made an arrest of an individual with felony warrants and worked on wetland violation cases.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent time checking anglers over the opener and focusing on boat and water safety. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license, no PFD, taking fish out of season, and ATV violations.


Aviation Section

Standby CO Pilot Tim Gray (Bemidji) conducted currency flights. Over fishing opener, he assisted on one survey flight and conducted a night survey of fishing pressure with the assistance of a local officer.

NR (Natural Resources) Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew two Forest Assessment photo flights, Rainy and Vermilion creel surveys, and arranged an oil change on the airplane.

Standby NR Pilot Jessica Holmes (Grand Rapids) reports flying several training flights and attending to administrative tasks. She also reports flying two Lake Vermilion creel surveys.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports ending fire detection flight duties and starting summer creel flights. During creel flights, a few public waters and wetland violations were documented and sent to local officers. Jensen also flew a wolf-telemetry flight and found an unattended fire creeping within a timber harvest area. DNR Forestry was notified and they responded to extinguish the fire before it spread too far. Jensen also completed a shoreline bird/rookery project documenting various rookeries in far northern Minnesota. He noticed a group of anglers fishing near Garden Island on Lake of the Woods. Jensen landed the seaplane to perform an angling check and documented minor boating violations. Enforcement action was taken.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on helicopter-maintenance scheduling and attended his Flight Instructor Refresher Course in the metro area. He also attended aviation webinars.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) stocked walleye fry in four remote northern lakes. He also prepared and updated the flight schedule for upcoming creel flights. He flew creel flights along Canada border waters and Lake Vermillion.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working on public water and Wetland Conservation Act cases. Time was spent checking anglers and monitoring AIS law compliance. Fishing success was good and the weather was perfect for the opener. Time was spent on area public lands checking activity. Fish spawning areas were monitored. ATV activity was worked.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked the fishing opener around the Leech Lake area. Fish limits were checked and AIS compliance monitored. Cases were worked in his assigned area. Calls for service were answered and ATV activity was monitored.

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Joe Albert, Communications coordinator | Division of Enforcement

Minnesota Fishing Report | Gull Lake Fishing | Mille Lacs Lake Fishing | Leech Lake Fishing | Whitefish Chain Fishing | Cuyuna Lakes Fishing

I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with numerous job titles since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently as Digital Editor. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work these 30+ years. I was present and worked on the our web page when our original BrainerdDispatch.com website first went live on April 26, 1994.
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