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Weather did not keep anglers off the water for the Minnesota fishing opener, DNR officers say

Enforcement action on Upper Red Lake included angling with no license in possession, multiple overlimits of walleyes and failure to display current registration on watercraft.

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Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota and adjacent areas of northern Minnesota for Monday, May 16.

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) went to Camp Ripley to instruct boat operation to new boat and water deputies. Anglers were checked on the Warroad River and Lake of the Woods with Lt. Benjamin. High winds made access to the lake challenging, and fishing overall was quite slow. Enforcement action this week included angling after revocation, no throwable life-saving device on board, no fire extinguisher on board and angling without a license in possession.

CO Corey Sura (Baudette East) worked the always busy fishing opener weekend in the Lake of the Woods area. As usual, weather did not keep people off the water for this “holiday weekend,” and it paid off for quite a few anglers. Many successful sturgeon anglers were also checked for the last few days of the spring catch-and-release season. Enforcement action was taken on an overlimit of walleyes.

CO Ryan Brown (Karlstad) reports working fishing opener as well as monitoring turkey hunting and ATV activity. He also spoke at a firearms safety class in Lancaster. The weather over fishing opener kept some of the anglers off the water but the diehard anglers were still out with mild success.

CO Tony Elwell (Thief River Falls East) investigated a possible deer-poaching incident and worked the 2022 fishing opener. Elwell observed limited success on the Thief and Red Lake rivers this weekend due in large part to high, turbid waters and windy conditions. Enforcement action was taken for angling license violations, watercraft safety equipment violations, as well as ATV registration violations, prohibitions on youth ATV operators and ATV safety certification violations.


CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working the busy fishing opener as anglers set out for the open-water season. Regas noted anglers had varied success, and the walleye bite was better on Blackduck Lake early in the morning and again in the afternoon. Water temperatures varied between 48 and 51 degrees as high winds stirred up the water. Time was also spent handling reports of nuisance bears in bird feeders, incidental catches of otters while spring beaver trapping and investigating a TIP call of taking walleyes in a walleye spawning area. Regas also reports assisting with Officer Water Survival training at the Deputy Boating School at Camp Ripley. Violations encountered and addressed this past week included PFD and watercraft-registration violations.

An increased number of youth operating and riding ATVs without helmets were contacted over the weekend. Parents are urged to ensure their children are wearing helmets when riding on an ATV.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a busy, windy fishing opener. Prachar worked with Capt. Znajda on and around Upper Red Lake. They took enforcement action on angling with no license in possession, multiple overlimits of walleyes and failure to display current registration on watercraft. Prachar also assisted the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Blackduck Ambulance on a medical/trauma where a large tree fell on an individual.

Warroad #1 – vacant.

Warroad #2 – vacant.

Baudette #1 – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports spending time this week checking watercraft operators and anglers. Several wetland-related complaints were followed up on. A deer case from the 2021 firearms deer season was closed out.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked angling activity over the busy fishing opener weekend. Anglers and boaters are reminded to check safety equipment before going out on the water. He taught a boating operations course to deputies from around the state at Camp Ripley. Area ATV trails and forest roads were patrolled

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports an extremely windy fishing opener with conditions nearly unfishable on some of the larger lakes for part of the weekend. Anglers had difficulty landing their boats, with several nearly swamping during their efforts. Vinton received multiple calls of possible sick birds, including calls about sick or dead eagles. Enforcement action was taken for seining in infested waters, ATV operation in the ditch south of U.S. Highway 10, no youth safety card, no youth helmet, allowing illegal operation by a minor, watercraft-registration issues and burning during a restricted period.


CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the weekend checking anglers. Many battled through the windy conditions to attempt to catch some walleyes. There was some success through the area, with most people having better luck in the evenings once the wind died down. The best success was seen by anglers targeting crappies. Other time was spent instructing water survival techniques to boat and water deputies, and assisting Becker County with a suspect who fled from a burglary.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) received calls on nuisance beavers and trespass. Peterson also worked commercial enforcement, and checked anglers and boaters over opening weekend.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, spring turkey hunting and ATV enforcement. The walleye/northern pike opener was worked over the weekend. Most common violations were licensing and motorboat registrations. Time was also spent responding to miscellaneous wildlife-related calls.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) worked fishing opener, rough fish spearing and leeching activity. A complaint of a dead gray wolf was received. Patrol for ATV activity was conducted. Forest roads, WMAs and WPAs were patrolled. Information was provided regarding nuisance-beaver activity.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week following up on wetland cases, shoreline cases, and checking angling activity in the Pelican Rapids station. Opening weekend brought fewer anglers on area lakes than past years, likely due to the strong winds. Anglers who braved the winds were rewarded with nice catches of panfish and walleyes. Overall compliance through opening weekend was high. Over the weekend, there were several incidents in the surrounding area where people ended up in the water and had to be rescued. Fortunately, they were able to put their life jackets on and be rescued, demonstrating the importance of always wearing your life jacket. Calls from the public included nuisance- and injured-animal reports, reports of bass and walleyes taken out of season, and a possible overlimit complaint. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length crappies on special regulation lakes, insufficient life jackets onboard watercraft, angling without a license, operating an unregistered watercraft, failure to transfer watercraft and other miscellaneous angling and boating violations.

Bagley – vacant.

Bemidji #2 – vacant.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Andrew Goodman (Fergus Falls) reports checking anglers, lake service providers and ATV operators throughout the week. Overall angling success appeared fair, and water levels have rebounded from last year’s drought with the recent rains. Assistance was provided in removing a barge from an area public access ramp after an electrical issue stranded the vessel. AIS enforcement remains a high priority. Anyone using or handling water-related equipment, not just boats, is responsible for knowing the laws regarding AIS.


CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) worked a busy fishing opening weekend with much success on the water. Plautz assisted a stranded boater who took on water due to high winds and a damaged boat. Plautz spoke to a Henning high school science class and met with a high school student showing interest in becoming a conservation officer. Invasive species and boating safety enforcement were conducted.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, boaters and ATV operators over the fishing opener weekend. Several ATV riders were encountered on the highways with operators and passengers under 18 without helmets. Fishing activity on area lakes was high, with a mixed bag of fish being caught.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) spent the week preparing for and then working the busy fishing opener. Lots of boaters were excited to be on the water, but high winds made it rough and afternoon traffic was very low. Some success was found for walleyes and crappies, but not everybody did well. Nuisance-animal calls were handled and an AIS saturation detail was worked in the Alexandria area. A midweek severe storm flipped many boats and docks, sending some out 100 feet out into the water while still attached to each other. Many trees along area lake shores still need to be removed, so please be careful near shore for downed trees.

CO Hanna Wood (Wheaton) spent the week focused on angling and fire enforcement. She flew a station flight with CO Pilot Tim Gray, took several TIP calls related to angling and issued minnow permits. She is also working on ongoing investigations.

CO Emily Douvier (Morris) reports working fishing and boating activity. Enforcement action taken included fishing without a license and expired boat registration. An AIS-focused detail was also worked with partners in the surrounding area.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers and boaters, and monitoring AIS law compliance. Additional time was spent checking turkey hunters and ATV operators. Windy conditions and high water levels around the area made fishing difficult over opening weekend, with few fish being caught.

Osakis – vacant.

Elbow Lake – vacant.


District 4 - Walker area

CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked multiple anglers over opener weekend. Enforcement action included fishing without a license, illegal possession of a deer, no license in possession, and failure to display current registration.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Cass and Crow Wing county lakes and reports a busy opening fishing weekend. McGowan also assisted local law enforcement agencies with calls for service. Enforcement action was taken for numerous boating and fishing violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily worked activities associated with the Governor’s Fishing Opener in the Cass Lake area. Several anglers were checked during opening fishing weekend despite the very windy weather. Most anglers were catching a few walleyes. In one instance, a TIP report led to a citation being issued for possessing an overlimit of walleyes over 20 inches. Mathy also checked ATV trails and worked on Bear Committee-related items. A nuisance-beaver permit was also issued and a moose-sighting call came from the Bena area. Enforcement action was taken for angling, boating and ATV violations

CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for wild turkey, angling and recreational vehicle activity. Baum patrolled area lakes for fishing opener and found many anglers having success even with the windy conditions. Baum found several ATV riders out with the recent opening of the county forest roads. He took enforcement action for various fishing and ATV-related violations. Baum continues to investigate a wild turkey case.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) primarily worked fishing activity during opening weekend. Fishing wasn’t the best in the station, but there was a fair amount of activity. Water levels remain high in the area, which has some effect on accessibility. Numerous ATV and OHM violations were addressed also, as the local trails and forest roads opened prior to the weekend.

ATV rec officer – vacant.

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