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DNR officers seize 72 fish in Lake of the Woods walleye and sauger bust

In addition to the 26 fish in the livewell, there were six walleyes and 10 saugers in the cooler with fish caught that day, and 17 walleyes and 13 saugers in the second cooler with fish the group had kept the previous day – 72 fish total.

Walleye-sauger overlimit.JPG
The 72 walleyes and saugers were confiscated Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, and donated to the Warroad Senior Living Center in Warroad, Minnesota, for residents' consumption. Contributed / Minnesota DNR
Contributed / Minnesota DNR
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Three anglers have been charged for keeping too many walleyes and saugers on Lake of the Woods after conservation officers found them with 48 fish over their limit Sunday, Nov. 7.

Charged with possessing over their limit of walleyes and saugers were Michael Sysa, 22, Oak Grove, Minnesota; David Sysa, 23, Oak Grove; and Yevgeniy Simonovich, 29, Elk River, Minnesota.

A juvenile angler in the party wasn’t charged but received a warning, court records show.

According to court records, the anglers were cited after Corey Sura, a conservation officer for the Department of Natural Resources in Baudette, Minnesota, made contact with them Sunday afternoon, Nov. 7, at the Wheelers Point public boat access on the Rainy River.

While counting fish in the boat’s livewell, Sura tallied 26 walleyes and saugers, a number that put the four anglers two fish over their limit; there also was a single perch in the livewell.

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Anglers can keep an aggregate limit of six walleyes and saugers on Lake of the Woods, of which no more than four can be walleyes.

During the encounter, Sura also asked Michael Sysa if there were any fish or coolers in the back of the truck and initially was told no.

The conservation officer then was given verbal consent to search the back of the truck and immediately heard the sound of “flopping” coming from one of two coolers in the pickup box, court records show. One cooler was about three-fourths full of walleyes and saugers, and the second cooler contained fish that had been caught the previous day. Sura then told the anglers he would be confiscating the fish in the livewell and the two coolers.

Also assisting with the incident was DNR conservation officer Ben Huener of Roseau, Minnesota.

In addition to the 26 fish in the livewell, there were six walleyes and 10 saugers in the cooler with fish caught that day, and 17 walleyes and 13 saugers in the second cooler with fish the group had kept the previous day – 72 fish total.

All 72 fish were gifted to the Warroad Senior Living Center for residents’ consumption, and the coolers were kept for DNR use.

Information on the status of the three anglers’ court appearances wasn’t immediately available Thursday because of the Veterans Day holiday, but they also will have to pay restitution, split three ways – 16 fish each – for the 48 walleyes and saugers over their limit, court records show. The minimum restitution value for walleyes and saugers is $30 per fish, according to Minnesota statute.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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