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CO Reports: Ice conditions improving, walleye, panfish bite decent

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - Dec. 22, 2020

Brainerd Dispatch file photo

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO (Conservation Officer) Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking anglers throughout the past week. Time was also spent inspecting aeration systems. Small-game hunters, archery deer hunters, and ATV operators were also checked. Various angling and ATV violations were encountered.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked ice anglers.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored ATV activity and ice anglers on area lakes. Vollbrecht also monitored trapping activity in the area. Upper Red lake was also worked several times. Fishing success has slowed on Upper Red Lake. Enforcement action was taken for unregistered ATVs, extra fishing lines, unattended lines, and being in possession of a small amount of marijuana.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the past week checking ice anglers and working ongoing cases from the deer-hunting season. Swedberg checked numerous ice anglers around the Detroit Lakes area. Fishing has been good, with most people being able to catch some fish. Ice conditions continue to improve, with many lakes having enough ice to hold recreational vehicles and small permanent ice houses.


CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked ice anglers and trappers. Trespass and extra-line violations were handled. Follow up on ongoing deer cases also continued.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the past week working small-game and sport fishing enforcement. Time was also spent responding to trespassing and dogs-chasing-deer complaints.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity. Ice conditions continue to improve. She monitored wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas for small-game and pheasant-hunting activity.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the past week wrapping up deer-season cases and checking ice anglers. Ice anglers are finding more consistent ice and the colder weather is welcomed by those anglers wishing to get houses on the lake. Anglers are finding a decent walleye and panfish bite on area lakes.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) found most lakes around the Remer area have good ice to fish on. With the lack of snow, Kunst found people to be riding ATVs as opposed to snowmobiles in order to enjoy the outdoors. Multiple anglers were checked this past week, as were trappers.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) spent the past week primarily checking ice anglers on area lakes. Success ranged greatly, with a few very nice fish seen being caught and released. Ice conditions in this area are still not safe for cars and trucks. Ice thickness in the area ranged from 4 inches to 9 inches.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time following up on big-game cases, conducting trapping enforcement, and monitoring fishing activity. A daring soul decided the ice was thick enough for a full-size pickup on an area lake, thankfully made it safely off the lake. Conditions vary greatly in the area, with thickness ranging from 2 inches to 12 inches depending on the lake. Make sure to check thickness for yourself!


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked multiple anglers throughout the past week. She also investigated a report of a dead bear. Enforcement action was taken for wanton waste of fish, no reflectors on an ice shelter, failure to display ID numbers on an ice shelter, and no license in possession.

CO Randy Posner (Staples) worked on fishing enforcement this past week. Ice angler numbers have increased and the ice conditions have improved. Success is mixed and the best bite has been in the evening. He checked snowmobile riders out in the ditches and on the area lakes. Expired registration violations were found. ATVs operating in the closed Pillsbury State Forest were reported. Small-game and deer bowhunters were also out and checked.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked ice anglers. Most are still walking out, while a few are using ATVs. Mathy spent some time checking traps in the area and following up on a wetland case. Enforcement action was taken for ATV violations.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports ice angling activity has increased thanks to increased ice thickness and wonderful weather. Sullivan continued working deer-hunting violations detected throughout the season. Trapping activity in the area was also checked.

CO Amber Ladd (McGregor) reports working early ice anglers. Activity has been slow so far but Ladd was sure to remind anglers to clean up the area when they pack up as litter continues to be an issue on area lakes. Ladd also worked some trapping activity and bough-cutting activity.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) checked area lakes for angling activity. One angler on a frozen waterway was using an ATV that hadn’t been registered since 2009. The angler said the ATV never goes off the property. Enforcement action was taken. Guida also worked a northern work detail where contact was made with trappers in possession of pine martens and anglers fishing remote BWCAW lakes.

CO Patrick McGowan (Pine River) continued to train a COC (Conservation Officer Candidate). He worked Upper Red Lake for angling and ATV enforcement, and area Crow Wing County lakes. McGowan also investigated a trapping complaint and an ice shelter left out on the ice illegally. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) checked trapping activity for the fisher, pine marten, and bobcat season opener. Ice anglers were finding consistent ice and the fishing was good across the lakes. He also followed up on deer-hunting cases.

CO Scott Fitzgerald (CCSRA) reports checking for fishing activity throughout the SRA during the past week and weekend. Time was spent patrolling the park for state park vehicle permits and illegal vehicle activity. He answered many outdoor law-related questions and spent some time on equipment issues. Calls for car-killed deer permits and issues in the SRA were fielded. Enforcement action for the past week included various state park-related violations.

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) worked angling activity and continued work on firearms deer season cases. Training and equipment maintenance were also completed.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked ice anglers and ATV traffic as anglers have started taking motor vehicles on the ice. He also checked trapping activity, answered snowmobile education questions, and attended training.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time assisting the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office on a medical and crash, and rescuing anglers who were stranded on Mille Lacs Lake from a large crack in the ice near shore. She also spent time checking trappers and anglers. Enforcement action was taken for a juvenile passenger on an ATV without a helmet, operating an ATV with an extra passenger, operating an ATV without lights, youth trapping without a youth license and trapper education, and no license in possession.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) patrolled area lakes checking ice anglers. Some panfish were seen. Many people were seen ice skating on the lakes as ice conditions and a lack of snow have created endless rinks. Speldrich responded to a trapping complaint, and an investigation is ongoing. She also checked public land for small-game hunters and received complaints of dumped deer carcasses.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked ice fishing, trapping, and ATV activities. Numerous dog complaints were taken, as pet owners are not doing a good job of containing their K9 friends. Follow-up cases continue to be worked, along with equipment maintenance. A novice spear fisher was observed with a very skinny and smaller pike. The beginner thought he did not have to count the skinny pike in the slot limit, which was not accurate.


CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked sport fishing enforcement this past week. Anglers have seen varied ice conditions and varied success. Anglers are reminded to monitor ice conditions, as they are still unstable on Mille Lacs Lake. Assistance was given to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office with a personal injury crash and with helping anglers stranded on Mille Lacs Lake get to shore safely. Enforcement action was taken for various angling violations.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) checked ice anglers, conducted maintenance of station equipment, responded to a fisher that had been caught in a raccoon trap, and released a dog that was caught in a foothold trap set for coyotes. Enforcement action taken for no angling license in personal possession.

CO Caleb Silgjord (Sauk Centre) spent the past week finishing training with COC Zach Larson. Upon completion of field training, Larson will be stationed in the Hutchinson area. Time was spent during the past week working on a big-game investigation. Ice anglers and spear fishers were also checked. Success varied from lake to lake, but pike activity seemed to be up on one area lake for both anglers and spearers. A snowmobile safety class was attended and a law and safety presentation was provided to the youth participants.

CO Adam Seifermann (St. Cloud) reports checking bowhunters, small-game hunters, trappers and anglers. He completed equipment maintenance, annual inspections and followed up on big-game and injured-animal complaints. Incidentally taken and road-killed fur-bearing animals were dealt with.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity in the area. Ice conditions vary, with numerous swans and geese keeping some open some water on area lakes. He also worked trapping activity in the area, with snares being set illegally. He also followed up on other cases and vehicle-maintenance issues.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the past week following up on big-game cases. Krauel also checked several ice anglers this past week. Enforcement action was taken for taking an overlimit of deer, possession of marijuana, possession of illegal-length northern pike, and several deer license and tagging violations.


CO Angela Londgren (Cambridge) checked anglers on local lakes, patrolled state wildlife management areas, conducted a commercial license inspection, and followed up on hunting cases. Enforcement action was taken for angling license violations, allowing illegal operation of an ATV by a juvenile, and several deer-hunting license violations.

CO Nate Benkofske (Milaca) reports checking angling, small-game hunting, and trapping activity in the area. Enforcement action was taken for extra lines and unlawful target shooting. Investigations were done for illegal deer hunting.

CO Tony Musatov (Sauk Rapids) checked anglers and hunters. Complaints were investigated related to litter and burning prohibited materials. Several animal-related calls were handled.

Aviation Section

NR Pilot John Heineman (Bemidji) flew wolf telemetry and performed annual training in the helicopter. Heineman also attended to truck maintenance.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports flying winter ice angler/recreation creel flights, a wetland photo flight and giving training to a new CO pilot. Jensen also positioned aircraft for maintenance and attended an online state training webinar.

NR Pilot Brad Maas (Brainerd) worked on preparation for an upcoming class and trained with another helicopter pilot preparing for the upcoming moose survey in the northeast. He also attended an aviation webinar.

CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) completed low level flight training. Multiple training tasks were completed from the department training program. Equipment checks and inventory were completed. Ice anglers were checked on local lakes.


Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the past week checking small-game hunters and anglers. Time was spent working on the review of a directive. Meetings were held and attended. A litter complaint was worked. Dumping of deer carcasses on both private and public land is considered litter. State forests were patrolled for activity.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) spent time working on cases in his assigned area. Trapping and ice fishing activity was monitored. Assistance to local agencies was given and training attended.

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