Conservation Officer Report: Fishing Picks Up

Posted at: 05/20/2014 2:21 PM

Rice Lake, north of Duluth, as seen on Friday
Rice Lake, north of Duluth, as seen on Friday

The Minnesota DNR provided the following summaries of last week's activities and observations by Conservation Officers:

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports ice is finally out on Lake Kabetogama while the Rainy River is still iced up on the main part of the lake.

CO Brad Schultz (Cook) reports the rivers continue to flow very fast and no angling activity was observed. Lake Vermilion has water levels very high also, however the large walleyes are biting but catching a few fish below the slot limit has been a challenge.  

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) was having a hard time finding anglers one weekday; however the officer located a few anglers (on two separate lakes) that had wished they had stayed home. Two were cited for no angling license and one was using an extra line (who also made an obscene gesture to a helicopter pilot flying by). The other lake harbored an angler that opened up bass season over a week early, keeping a four- pounder. Other enforcement action was taken on boat registration and a number of ATV violations.

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) says shore fishermen report little success and those using boats are only fairing slightly better. Violations include no lights after sunset; boaters need to realize that lights are required to be turned on for all watercraft after sunset, not when it gets dark.

CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports fair weather gave many anglers ample opportunity to make it out on the lakes in the Ely area. Although success was difficult for some, most anglers did well with both walleyes and northerns.
CO Marty Stage (Ely) reports the walleyes are still spawning in the creeks and are still vulnerable a week after fishing opener. Unregistered canoes are flooding into the area and people are reminded that watercraft over 10 feet in length require registration even if you are just borrowing it from a friend or relative.
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports that on the second weekend of the fishing season, a few Cook County Lakes had ice cover. The big part of Saganaga was still iced over. If you cut through the islands you could get down to American Point. People found plenty of open campsites and fishable water on Sag. Ice was still on Devil Track and it should be out soon. The ice on Devil Track stole the sea plane base dock and took off with it. Not many people took advantage of the open water and nice temps inland. Those that did caught some nice fish. A couple of walleyes in the high 20 inch class and one over 30 inches were reported to the CO. The CO did a quick paddle into the BWCA and found a few paddlers out and about.  
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) seized several untagged minnow traps from one small lake. Anglers are reminded to check page 76 of the 2014 Fishing Regulations booklet for specifics on minnow trapping for personal use. The officer also checked anglers on Lake Superior tributaries and inland lakes; some ice was still seen on the inland lakes.
CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) had a busy week of enforcement activity. One night while monitoring a local spawning creek an individual was observed dip netting the spawning walleyes. Upon apprehension he was found to be without a fishing license and in possession of more than one fish over 20 inches, including a 24 inch walleye still full of eggs. Unfortunately the fish was unable to be returned to the water, wasting the potential for many fish to be added to the future population. Later research also revealed the individual had made false application for husband/wife angling licenses in the past. Another noteworthy incident included an individual transporting a live walleye in water in the livewell from another area lake which is infested with invasive species and driving his vehicle while having a cancelled inimical to public safety driving status.
CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) reports angler success with good.
CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) says anglers continued to report slow catch rates on area lakes. Roads and trails in the Fond Du Lac State Forest where roads and trails continued to be closed to motorized vehicle use. Several more nuisance bear calls were received. Most involved bears foraging at bird feeders or in garbage. CO Humphrey received a report of a winter related fish kill on a second area lake near Cromwell.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth) received a few bear and wolf complaints.

CO Andy Schmidt (Brookston) reports anglers are still finding a slow bite with little success. Wolf depredation calls are starting to come in and one complaint was investigated in Meadowlands.  Wildlife complaints are plentiful with bears looking for food and one report of an aggressive grouse.

CO Randy Hanzal (Duluth) reported another busy week in the station with lots of anglers and ATV users out taking advantage of the better weather conditions. Boating safety requirements were concentrated on during the week and reports good compliance. A person attempted to convince the officer that he was only checking water depth of a local stream with the use of a spear. A citation was issued for attempting to take, angling/spearing, without a license. Burning without a permit and burning of prohibited materials violations were also encountered.

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) reports that with nicer weather, fishing activity has picked up in the area.

WREO Mike Scott participated in the 2014 Law Enforcement Memorial in St. Paul honoring all fallen officers in Minnesota as well as 18 fallen Conservation Officers. An honor guard of seven Conservation Officers participated in the memorial. Anglers were checked on area lakes with fishing still spotty but signs of improvement were seen. Smelters were checked on area rivers, streams, and Park Point. Sunday night saw the best smelting yet with everyone participating filling coolers, five gallon pails and some even garbage bags. All participating were enjoying the catch but not the cold wind and water.

CO Troy Ter Meer (Marine Unit) spent the week working river and lake anglers. He also worked smelt netters and rivers for illegal netting. One person was caught netting a looper while smelt netting.