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CO Reports: Unattended fishing line results in citation and fish release

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - August 15, 2022

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw anglers having success on area lakes. One angler left his fishing pole unattended while he set up a tent 200 yards away. When the angler reeled in the line, it had caught a nice channel catfish. Flerlage agreed that it was the perfect eating size fish, then ordered the fish thrown back since it was taken illegally. The angler was educated by citation on the illegal fishing method.

ATV trails were in good shape and busy during the week. Lakeshores were investigated for illegal plant-removal devices.


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Subdivision 1. General prohibition. A person may not take fish by angling with a set line or an unattended line except as provided in this section and rules adopted under the game and fish laws.

Subd. 2. Ice fishing. A person may use an unattended line to take fish through the ice if:

(1) the person is within sight of the line; or

(2) a tip-up is attached to the line and the person is within 200 feet of the tip-up.


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CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked sport fishing and monitored public lands for bear-baiting activity. Guida attended a “Bags with Badges” public relations event hosted by the Brainerd Police Department. He investigated an illegal application of chemical in the public lakebed. The landowner was trying to remove cattails from the property to improve his beach. Numerous boaters were contacted removing watercraft for the season. Those boaters were reminded of the AIS laws.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) spent time checking boaters, anglers, and ATV riders throughout the week. Enforcement action included violations for angling on designated trout lakes without a trout stamp, and no angling licenses. Time was also spent instructing at the Academy.


District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked the TIP booth at the Beltrami County Fair. Time was spent at Camp Ripley for the Conservation Officer Academy.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports traveling to Illinois and Iowa as part of a CO Prep hire background investigation. A lake property owner called to report shooting a bobcat that had attacked their puppy. The landowner reported they’d let the puppy out and soon after heard its cries. The landowner struck the bobcat with a garden tool and the cat let go but refused to leave, continuing to act unusually aggressive. Photos from a trail camera showing a possible trespasser were also forwarded to Vinton.

District 4 - Walker area


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) spoke at a firearms safety class and lake association meeting, and attended the MDHA banquet with the TIP wall.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling, boating, off-highway vehicle traffic, and AIS. He continued working on a background investigation. Enforcement action was taken for boating, angling, and off-highway vehicle violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports checking bear-baiting activity and activity on public lands. The berry and nut crops have improved significantly from last year and may make bear baiting more difficult than past years. He also reports assisting with the Academy at Camp Ripley, and is in the process of a background investigation. He gave a CO law/safety talk at a firearms safety class. He would like to remind outdoor enthusiasts that ATVs are not allowed in WMAs and that personal property cannot be stored at state boat accesses.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked anglers, boaters, and AIS. Bear baiting started and a few hunters were seen placing baits. A person called to report a cougar sighting. Enforcement action was taken for ATV, boating and angling violations.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked angling activity with some of the walleye action picking up, especially during the lower-light hours of the day. Enforcement action was taken for failing to transfer a boat title, angling without a license and angling without a license in possession. Sutherland once again dealt with multiple bear-related complaints of the bruins doing damage to bird feeders, garbage cans and even one that wandered inside a garage. With the upcoming bear-baiting and hunting season, complaints should tail off in the near future.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to focus on fishing, boating, and ATV activity. Several questions were answered regarding the upcoming bear-hunting season. Bear hunters in the area are anticipating a good season with several reported sightings and trail camera pictures lately.


District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) monitored ATV traffic and scouted for bear baits as some foliage started turning colors. Hunting questions also started picking up. Several calm days of average temperatures resulted in more angling activity.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) assisted local agencies on various calls. Time was also spent on Mille Lacs Lake and the Soo Line Trail. Bear-baiting activity was monitored.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers, ATV riders, and bear baiters in the area. River Fest Festival in Palisade was also attended. Benkofske and many other first responders aided in the recovery of a drowning victim in an Aitkin-area lake.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes and rivers for boating and angling activities. Westby assisted a firearms field day event with area partners. He received several complaints about ATVs on the Soo Line Trail west of Highway 10. Enforcement action included no angling license, using gamefish as bait, no license in possession, no helmet on youths on an ATV and no registration on watercraft.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) fielded nuisance-animal calls, monitored ATV activity, and assisted with the DNR CO Academy. Enforcement action was taken for youths on an ATV without a helmet.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked on pheasant counts this week. He worked on administrative duties and vehicle maintenance. A firearms safety field day class was given to local students at the Paynesville Sportsmen’s Club range.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent most of the week checking boaters and anglers. Enforcement action was taken for license violations, insufficient boating safety equipment, and expired boat registration. Calls about injured and nuisance animals were handled.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) received information about a theft on the Crooked Lake WMA. Someone over the past week or weekend went into the WMA parking lot and helped themselves to a couple 20-foot long, telephone-style poles. Anyone with information on this is encouraged to call the DNR.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week assisting at Academy watercraft training. Krauel also spent time checking anglers. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines and unattended lines.

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