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Fishing on Lake of the Woods improving, and some big pike are showing up, DNR officers say

Deep snow and slush are creating mobility issues on some lakes, DNR conservation officers say.

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ST. PAUL – Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, March 7:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers and snowmobiles on Lake of the Woods. Despite slow fishing, several overlimits of walleyes and sauger were found. Other violations included angling with extra lines, operating unregistered snowmobiles and no shelter license on a non-portable ice shelter. Owners of permanent fishing shelters on Lake of the Woods are encouraged to remove their shelters sooner than later, with poor conditions anticipated when warm weather arrives.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) reports working snowmobile activity and checking anglers still enjoying the walleye season on Lake of the Woods. Some people are starting to catch large northern pike in shallower water, and the walleye/sauger bite is starting to pick up. Area trails remain in good condition. Sura continues investigations from the past deer season. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines and possessing illegal-length walleyes.

The Northwest Region includes some of the state’s premier walleye fisheries, including Lake of the Woods, Upper Red, Cass and Leech lakes, along with the Red and Red Lake rivers, to name just a few.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) worked a detail on Lake of the Woods with CO Huener. Anglers saw moderate success. Enforcement action taken included ATVs on a designated snowmobile trail, unregistered snowmobiles, angling with extra lines, angling without a license and possessing walleyes over the limit.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) investigated a wolf mortality, conducted snowmobile patrols and monitored ice shelter removal this week. Incidentally trapped animal calls were also taken. Violations encountered this week included no snowmobile registration, expired snowmobile registration, failure to display snowmobile registration, no snowmobile safety certification when required and taking northern pike during the closed season.


CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports checking anglers on area lakes. The bite remains slow, and deep snow and slush are creating mobility issues on some lakes. Time was spent patrolling area snowmobile trails, which are in excellent condition. Enforcement action for the past week included angling license violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports significant snowmobile activity in the area. Time was spent working snowmobile and recreational vehicle activity. Enforcement action was taken for expired registration and improper display of registration.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking anglers and snowmobile operators this week. Time was also spent following up on several open wetland cases.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) monitored area lakes and snowmobile trails. Several fish houses were marked on area lakes as the deadline for removal approaches. He worked a detail on Lake of the Woods with CO Huener.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports completing background investigations for potential new conservation officers and patrolling area lakes for fish house removal. Most lakes had been cleared of fish houses before the pending removal date. Area snowmobile trails appear to remain in good condition.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) worked area snowmobile trails and fishing activity. Many snowmobilers were seen, and most were law-abiding. Trail conditions remain fair, with trails near roads suffering from warm conditions. Fishing was very poor through most of the county, with most anglers reporting that they were struggling to get a single bite. Enforcement action for the week included no angling license, operating an unregistered snowmobile, operating a snowmobile with a modified muffler, and speeding on a snowmobile.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) attended training, completed a background investigation and received calls about wildlife mortality. He also fielded a complaint of damage to a groomed snowmobile trail.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working on a background investigation. Time was also spent transporting the TIP Wall of Shame trailer for the Red River Valley Sportsmen’s Show in Fargo.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) monitored angling and snowmobile activity.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking angling and snowmobiling activity in the Pelican Rapids station. Anglers are eagerly awaiting some warmer weather to settle lake snow, as travel is still difficult. Anglers are reminded to purchase a new angling license and that fish houses may not be stored at public access sites. Snowmobile trails remain in good to great condition and many snowmobilers were out enjoying the warm weather. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile-registration violations, snowmobile speed, illegal-length crappies on a special regulations lake, angling without a license, and several traffic violations.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) checked anglers, coyote hunters and snowmobilers during the week. The majority of fish houses remaining on area lakes were removed over the weekend without issue. Additional time was spent investigating a report of illegal dumping of carcasses and planning upcoming firearms safety classes. Goodman assisted with a deer vs. vehicle crash involving a group of anglers down on their luck during their annual fishing adventure. A second contact with the group later that evening revealed determination and camaraderie provided the anglers with good spirits and fish in the bucket. Enforcement action for the week included no angling license and expired snowmobile registration.


CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) worked area snowmobile trails and monitored fish houses on the lake with the removal date approaching. Plautz checked some anglers and took several calls about injured deer and a dead hawk. Nuisance-deer and -turkey complaints continue to come in with the animals eating a large supply of farmers’ hay and grains. Training was attended at Camp Ripley.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, snowmobile riders, coyote hunters and fish houses. Most fish houses were removed over the weekend, but a few were still left on area lakes with one day until the removal deadline. Calls were received asking about firearms safety classes. Please check the DNR website for upcoming firearms safety classes in your area.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent this week monitoring fish house removal activity. Shacks that haven’t been visited by owners for some time needed to be plowed and chipped out in order to become accessible for getting off the ice. Some panfish fishing activity is occurring on a few select spots throughout the area, but most ice anglers have hung it up for the year. One angler was cited for possessing an illegal-length northern pike during the closed season. Snowmobile activity remains high but the trails are starting to show it as ruts, bumps and bare spots are more common now than at any point in the winter. Complaints of illegal deer feeding have been coming in steady. A meeting with Alexandria city leaders on a proposed citywide archery deer hunt was attended.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working fishing and snowmobile enforcement. Enforcement action taken included no snowmobile registration and failure to transfer ownership. An aeration inspection was also completed.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were focused on checking anglers and snowmobile and ATV operators. Additional time was spent checking area lakes and marking fish houses for the upcoming fish house removal deadline. Injured-animal complaints and questions about new sunfish limits on area lakes were handled.

Osakis – vacant.

Elbow Lake – vacant.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for snowmobile and ice angling activity. He observed decreased angling activity on area lakes. Snowmobile trail conditions are good, with many snowmobilers enjoying the area. Baum took enforcement action for various snowmobile violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass County for snowmobile and angling activity throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for numerous violations.

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. Several lakes in the area have lowered sunfish and/or crappie limits as of March 1; be sure to check for changes before continuing fishing. Hughes also responded to a snowmobile crash.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports that snow and ice conditions are still favorable but suggests closely monitoring ice conditions as some lakes are becoming slushy. Calls included complaints about nuisance animals, an injured eagle, an abandoned snowmobile, snowmobile trespass, and possible shoreline/public waters violations. Snowmobile enforcement action consisted of snowmobile trespass, modified muffler, no registration, no trail pass, and failure to display registration numbers. He would like to remind anglers to leave no trace and to adhere to the shelter removal deadline/rules.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) found limited angling activity over the week with most houses off the lakes prior to the shelter removal deadline. Snowmobile trails were patrolled. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of fishing and snowmobile-related violations as well as taking firewood from a state forest without a permit.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) continued to check anglers and snowmobile trails. Perch anglers started having better success this past week. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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