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Weekly DNR Enforcement report: Officers report busy weekend, mixed success during Minnesota Fishing Opener

Here is the weekly report from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in northwest Minnesota for May 13:

District 1 - Baudette area

CO Ben Huener (Roseau) investigated a fire near Viking, Minn. He helped out with training at Camp Ripley, teaching boat approaches to boat and water deputies. A meeting was attended at the Warroad Customs office with other departments from Minnesota and Ontario. Assistance was given searching for a missing 2-year-old near Swift. Fishing opener was worked on Lake of the Woods, the Warroad River, Swift Ditch, the Rainy River, and the Northwest Angle islands. Violations included angling with extra lines, operating an unregistered boat, allowing a child in a boat without a life jacket, and failure to allow inspection of watercraft by an AIS inspector.

CO Eric Benjamin (Warroad North) worked OHV, boat and water, and angling enforcement. The ice made it off the lake just in time for the opener this past weekend, giving anglers plenty of opportunity to chase their limits. The fish were giving anglers a run for their money and most came up short. Enforcement action taken this week included operating a motor vehicle on a closed ATV trail, operating a motor vehicle on a closed forest road, failure to obtain a burning permit, multiple boat safety equipment violations, child under 10 not wearing a PFD, angling with an extra line, failure to display valid registration on a motorboat, refusal to submit water-related equipment to inspection and operating an unregistered motorboat.

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls West) worked the walleye opener with CO Mishler on the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods. Success was very dependent on location and those anglers out early and in the right spot were rewarded with nice fish. Enforcement action for the week included boat safety equipment, boat registration, angling without a license, angling with unattended lines, litter, and no state park permit.

CO Demosthenes Regas (Blackduck South) reports working the busy angling opener and monitoring special regulation lakes throughout the week. Anglers reported mixed results, but a good number caught some walleyes to fry. Time was spent monitoring area ATV trails, taking in incidental catches of otters and muskrats, and providing training to boat and water deputies at an officer water survival course taught at Camp Ripley. A group of juveniles learned a valuable lesson when they were caught spearing in waters closed for the spring fish spawning run. Other violations encountered and addressed throughout the week included angling license and watercraft registration violations.

CO Nicholas Prachar (Blackduck North) reports a busy 2019 fishing opener. Prachar worked with Lt. Znajda on Upper Red Lake where anglers were finding terrific success. Prachar and Znajda worked angling enforcement and boat and water safety. Enforcement action was taken on PFD violations, registration violations, boat and water safety violations, and possession of marijuana.

CO Hannah Mishler (Baudette East) assisted with a local security detail, attended the Tri-State Game Warden’s Meeting, and worked a busy Minnesota fishing opener. Most of the opening weekend was spent checking anglers on the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods. Reports of fish being caught were mixed, but the majority of anglers checked were finding fish to keep. The vast majority of anglers complied with all rules and regulations. Enforcement action was taken for angling after suspension/without a license, unattended lines, no angling license in possession, failure to display watercraft registration, and no state park pass.

Baudette West – vacant.

Warroad South – vacant.

Karlstad – vacant.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tom Hutchins (Crookston) reports attending a meeting this past week with North and South Dakota game wardens. A security detail was worked during the vice president’s visit to Minnesota. Anglers and watercraft operators were checked on area lakes. Spring beaver trapping activity was also worked. Various boating and angling violations were encountered.

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) worked the fishing opener, took several animal-related complaints and continued flight training.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy fishing opener weekend. Anglers enjoyed a good evening walleye bite in area rivers. He assisted in teaching at a deputy boating school where officers trained on approaching boats and field sobriety tests. Vollbrecht also spoke with multiple radio stations Friday regarding boating safety and angling regulations.

CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports a very windy fishing opener with anglers catching a few walleyes on area lakes. Water temperatures are still hovering in the upper 40s to low 50s. Panfish anglers are starting to find crappies. Vinton and other district COs assisted the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service with security for Vice President Pence. A call was taken from a concerned angler who allowed his grandsons to cast lures and catch fish prior to the season opener. The angler knew they couldn’t target species during the closed season and it bothered him all night so he was calling to “turn himself in.” Vinton asked if they caught any fish or kept any. The angler stated they did catch some but threw them all back. Vinton told the angler we’d just use this as a “learning lesson” and the angler agreed to never do it again. Enforcement action was taken for failing to drain livewells and slot fish violations.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week working sport fishing and other boating activity. Fishing opener came and went with many anglers trying their luck, but windy conditions and cold water made it difficult to find walleyes. A warm week of weather should lead to better fishing conditions in the area.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) spoke to Menahga fourth-grade students about boat and water safety and handled calls of dogs chasing deer, wildlife possession and nuisance beavers. Walleye opener was relatively slow with only a few anglers reporting walleyes being caught. Overall boating activity down as well. Shore and trout anglers had some luck, as did catch-and-release bass anglers. Violations were minimal.

CO Steve Chihak (Moorhead) spent the week working sport fishing, turkey hunting and ATV enforcement. Time was also spent working the walleye/northern pike opener. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length northern pike, various boating safety violations and an ATV passenger under 18 without a helmet.

CO Angie Warren (Mahnomen) spent time on complaints involving trespassing, public waters and leeching activities. A call of a bear with cubs in a tree was received and the public advised to give the bears time and space to leave the area. Angling and boating activity were worked during the fishing opening weekend. Success varied with weather conditions not cooperating.

CO Bill Landmark (Pelican Rapids) spent the week monitoring angling, bowfishing, and recreational vehicle activity. Anglers on opener faced nearly unfishable windy conditions that likely hampered their success. Most anglers were still happy to be on the water and a few panfish were found in the shallows. Landmark advises anglers to take a few minutes and make sure they have all their safety equipment in their boat. Landmark also has seen an increase in inflatable PFDs in anglers’ boats and would like to remind anglers most of these PFDs must be worn in order to be legal. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license in possession and no Type IV throwable device onboard watercraft.

District 3 - Fergus Falls area

CO Troy Richards (Fergus Falls) reports a slow start for the walleye-fishing season. Water temperatures remained low and will need to spike up for action to pick up. Enforcement time was focused on fishing, AIS, boat safety, and ATV activity.

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) is investigating an ATV complaint with trespass, operating without an ATV safety certificate and agriculture damage violations. Plautz spent time on equipment maintenance this past week with squad and boat issues. She worked a windy and chilly opening fishing weekend with several folks out struggling to find a limit of walleyes. However, several sucker anglers were still active in the streams. Plautz assisted the State Patrol with a crash and worked AIS throughout the weekend.

CO Andrew Goodman (Elbow Lake) reports checking a strong number of anglers on opening weekend. Success was varied as most anglers battled the strong winds from a boat. Violation rates were very low for both angling and boating safety. Additional time was spent investigating a trespassing complaint that lead to a turkey-hunting violation case. Goodman and several other COs attended a tristate warden conference in Wahpeton, N.D. Enforcement action was taken for a turkey license violation, angling license violations, and no Type IV throwable device.

CO Shane Osborne (Evansville) checked anglers, boaters and ATV riders. There were quite a few walleyes caught over the opener with several boats coming off lakes with limits. Calls were taken about nuisance animals and fishing laws.

CO Mitch Lawler (Alexandria) worked a busy fishing opener weekend, and although the fish didn’t cooperate for everyone, it was a successful opener in that everyone stayed safe on the water. A few anglers received citations for unregistered watercraft, as did an ATV rider, and an angler was cited for not having a fishing license. However, most contacts were very good and a lot of youth were observed out fishing as well!

CO Brian Holt (Osakis) focused on angling and bowfishing activity during the week. Time was also spent monitoring AIS compliance on water-related equipment transported throughout the area. The opening weekend of fishing was busy in the Osakis area despite the cool and windy weather conditions. A firearms safety class was held in Osakis with 17 students attending. Enforcement activity related to boat and water safety and registration violations, angling licenses and illegal-length northern pike.

CO Daniel Baumbarger (Glenwood) reports enforcement efforts for the week were concentrated on checking anglers, boaters, ATV operators, and monitoring AIS law compliance. Baumbarger reports fishing opener was busy with anglers having more success on Sunday. Additional time was spent on injured-wildlife calls and attending a tristate conservation officer meeting. Morris – vacant. Wheaton – vacant.