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Minnesota DNR conservation officers' report for northwest Minnesota: Transition from hunting to ice fishing

Here is the report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota for Dec. 3:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) checked anglers on Lake of the Woods. There is between about 7 and 10 inches of ice between Zippel Bay and Pine Island. But always use caution on ice! Fishing success is fair. Violations encountered included snowmobile and ATV registration display violations as well as angling with extra lines.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) taught the law and ethics portion of snowmobile safety classes in Warren and Newfolden, and responded to a call of two buck deer with antlers locked together stuck in a cattle panel fence. Angling activity was monitored and anglers are reminded to take their trash with them off of the ice when they are done.  Enforcement action for the week included a juvenile on an ATV without a helmet, underage consumption of alcohol, and failure to register big game as required.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working ATV, muzzleloader deer hunting, trapping and angling activity on special regulation lakes throughout the week. Time was spent handling calls of animals injured during collisions with motor vehicles on area highways and dogs chasing deer. Regas also attended training in St. Paul. Violations encountered and addressed during the week included anglers without their licenses in possession, littering and unauthorized parking in a designated handicapped parking area at a public access.  

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports ice-fishing success on Upper Red Lake is picking up. Time was spent working trapping and angling activity.

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) spent the week checking ice anglers, muzzleloader hunters, and trappers. Time was also spent on snowmobile and ATV enforcement. Various nuisance animal and car-kill animal calls were also taken.

Baudette West – vacant.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

Thief River Falls East – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports checking muzzleloader deer hunters this past week. Time was also spent checking ice anglers and small-game hunters. A snowmobile complaint area was checked.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked ice anglers and attended a pilot’s meeting in Brainerd.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) spent time following up on deer cases and checking ice anglers. Ice depths have seemed to vary from lake to lake with as little as a couple inches on some to nearly a foot on others. Time was spent over the weekend checking anglers on Upper Red Lake. The bite has been good, and the 20-plus-inch year-class is what everyone is talking about. Anglers seemed to have no problem catching one walleye over 17 inches. The challenge was finding smaller ones that they could keep. A few seized walleyes were over an inch longer than the allowed length. Vollbrecht spoke with anglers about getting an accurate measuring board rather than using self-made notches on ice scoops or coolers. A few frustrated anglers on the lake tried their luck at using three lines each but quickly found out that it wasn’t worth it. Enforcement action was taken over the weekend on multiple occasions, but most anglers checked were complying and enjoying the hot bite.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) and COC Garrett Thomas spent time checking ice anglers on numerous local lakes, issued multiple deer possession permits, backed up local authorities on a domestic call, and participated in the Wadena fur registration. Enforcement action was taken on a variety of topics including fishing without a license, no shelter license, and two individuals who had 60 sunfish over their limit.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) worked with CO Lerchen on muzzleloader deer hunters, ice anglers, trapping, follow ups from the rifle deer season and attended a court trial on a fishing violation. Enforcement action was taken on shelter violations, extra line, no deer registration and lending and borrowing a license. A complaint of hunting in a closed scientific and natural area with bait was worked. It turned out to be a tribal issue.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, small-game and deer-hunting enforcement. Ice conditions continue to improve as more anglers are venturing out onto the ice. Fishing success is fair to poor on most lakes checked. Anglers are reminded that ice conditions vary widely this time of year and ice is never 100 percent safe. Time was also spent working the fur registration station in Detroit Lakes. Violations encountered for the week included failure to report accidentally caught fisher and taking illegal-length northern pike. 

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time working muzzleloader hunting activity with hunters reporting few deer. Area lakes were worked for ice angling activity. Anglers reported fair to good success. Ice conditions continue to vary and caution is advised. Warren worked with a local high school student for a job shadow day. Law and ethics were taught to a snowmobile safety class in Detroit Lakes. Follow up continued on open cases. Small-game and trapping activity was monitored. Information was provided about ice angling and pike regulations.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week checking ice anglers, muzzleloader hunters, and trapping activity in the Pelican Rapids Station. Anglers are finding a few panfish, but walleye action has been slow. Landmark taught the law and ethics portion of the Pelican Rapids snowmobile safety class and assisted the Wildlife Section with fur registration in Detroit Lakes. Several illegal furs were brought in during the registration day. Enforcement action was taken for failure to report an incidental catch and taking fisher out of season.

Detroit Lakes – vacant.