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CO Reports: Snow a boost to northern Minnesota trails

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - December 28, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports Area snowmobile trails have quality snow cover for snowmobiles. Anglers enjoyed pretty good ice fishing success on area lakes. Ice anglers are traveling by foot, ATV or snowmobile. Recent snowfall has made travel on area lakes difficult.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders and following up on trapping investigations.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking snowmobilers and anglers. Good success was found on Big Sandy for a variety of species. Other lakes were also producing fish, but not the size. Some snowmobile trails have been groomed to make for OK riding, but more snow is needed for good riding. Enforcement action taken for expired registration and no shelter licenses.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) monitored early ice fishing activity, with some chunky walleyes showing up. A fish house fell through on Mille Lacs Lake after a crack came right by the house. Trapping activity was also monitored with very low water. Road-killed deer permits were issued and a trespass issue was addressed.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) reports working sport fishing activity over the past week. Time was also spent conducting equipment maintenance and catching up on reports. Mille Lacs Lake fishing regulations can be found posted at public water accesses and online.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) patrolled area lakes and snowmobile trails. Individuals are reminded to purchase cross-country ski passes before skiing on groomed grant-in-aid trails.


CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports anglers are starting to take ATVs and larger fish houses out on area lakes. Reports of 7 to 9 inches of ice on some of the larger lakes are enticing some anglers to take risks. Vinton assisted the sheriff’s office with a pickup truck that had gone through the ice on an area lake on Christmas day. Remember: 12 to 15 inches of ice is recommended for small vehicles, though ice is never considered 100% safe. Several car-killed deer possession permits were issued and a TIP of a possible overlimit was received. Vinton, along with several dozen other representatives from other law enforcement agencies, attended the funeral for New York Mills Police Officer Ron Smith. Smith was a 14-year veteran officer who lost his battle with COVID-19.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training and worked ongoing cases of taking an overlimit of deer and taking deer out of season.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked angling activity on area lakes; ice conditions continue to vary. Wildlife management areas and WPAs were monitored. Snowmobile activity was worked with a few riders out and about.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time on a work detail.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports patrolling for seasonal activity.

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for snowmobile and ice fishing activity. Baum found anglers having varied success on area lakes. The ice seems to be getting thicker, with some anglers driving small vehicles onto the ice this week. Baum reminds people venturing out on the ice that conditions can change quickly and to be sure to check ice thickness. Baum saw increased snowmobile activity with the fresh snowfall. He took enforcement action for various fishing, ATV and snowmobile violations.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time working anglers and snowmobile enforcement throughout the week. Time was also spent following up on big-game-related cases.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers and trappers and patrolled area lakes on snowmobile. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a fishing license, no fishing license in possession, unattended fishing lines, and using perch as bait. Enforcement action was also taken for multiple fishing line violations and no shelter tags.


CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked trapping complaints and monitored snowmobile activity. Angler success was good this week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and operating a snowmobile on the roadway.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked angling and recreational vehicles during the week. Time was also spent monitoring trapping and small-game hunting activity. Enforcement action was taken for possession of drugs and paraphernalia and fish house violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity. Deer-season case work was also followed up on with cases being closed out. Many people were out during Christmas break getting out on the ice and catching panfish and walleyes. Enforcement action was taken for failing to have an angling license and failing to possess an angling license. Sutherland also responded to a snowmobile crash where an individual fell from his snowmobile and broke their ankle.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor trapping and ice angling activity. Ice conditions have improved greatly on most area lakes and more and more permanent fish houses are being seen. The fish bite continues to be pretty good with crappie fishing being the best.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) spent the week preparing for snowmobile enforcement for the winter. He located several ATV riders operating in the area and spoke with them about not being able to operate on designated snowmobile trails. Time was also spent checking ice conditions, with ice thickness ranging from 4 to 9 inches. There bite has been slow and spear fishers have seen few northern pike.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) assisted other agencies and continued to follow up on deer-hunting cases. He monitored fishing activity in the area. A TIP report was worked on this week as well.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers. Enforcement action was taken for ATV-registration violations, license violations, and unattended lines. Trappers were also checked.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled the area for ice angling. He investigated a headless deer and assisted another state’s DNR with an interview in Minnesota.


CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the weekend checking anglers.

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