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DNR Report: Snowmobile activity revs up with improved trails

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Jan. 30.

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District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls #1) reports the fresh dumping of snow was welcomed by snowmobilers, but the cold weather was not. Ice anglers on Sand Bay of Rainy Lake continue to have some success, but the cold weather has also damped their success. Time was also spent on equipment issues and fur registration, along with investigating a possible birch pole theft.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports working area lakes and rivers checking anglers. Area snowmobile trails were monitored throughout the week with trail conditions continuing to be good. Follow up was conducted on a report of decorative material theft.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) completed work on a pre-employment background investigation for the next CO hiring process. Equipment upgrades were tended to. Miscellaneous wildlife-related issues were fielded and closed out. The return of extreme cold weather tested the will of the snowmobiling and angling crowds, although fair numbers of both were encountered.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports angling and snowmobile activities were monitored over the week. Fishing remains poor. Active timber sales were checked. Arctic air arrived over the weekend, with temps at 30-below zero limiting outdoor activities. Equipment work and administrative tasks continue.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling and snowmobile enforcement. Larson spent time on Lake Vermilion checking anglers. They were having a hard time finding good numbers of walleyes. Larson also spent time helping with a snowmobile safety class in Ely and assisting St. Louis County with a search for a missing person. Violations encountered were fishing without a license, angling after revocation, angling with an extra line, allowing youth to violate fish and game laws, failure to display snowmobile registration, using game fish species as bait (spearing decoy), and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.


CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked angling activity and snowmobile enforcement. Time was also spent receiving training, working at the fur registration in Hibbing, and investigating a complaint of a possible wolf depredation. Area anglers still report a slow bite on local lakes.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time completing administrative tasks and patrolling area snowmobile trails. Snowmobiling activity remains quite active despite the frigid weather. Zavodnik continues to work on a bear-hunting case from the previous season.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring ice fishing and snowmobiling activity. Few anglers were encountered during the week. New snowfall during the week helped area snowmobile trails, but cold weather over the weekend appeared to deter snowmobilers. Broughten also fielded calls regarding trespass, injured animals and timber theft.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports snowmobile trail conditions benefited from several inches of snow over the week. Slush on lakes continued to be minimal but some pockets were still found. Angling success continued to slow ahead of very cold weather that arrived over the weekend. Violations included angling with no license in possession, failure to display snowmobile registration, and taking trout with no stamp in possession.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and snowmobilers this past week. Slush conditions are much better on area lakes but fishing was slow. Snowmobile trail conditions are good but the larger lakes are still rough.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais #2) spent the week patrolling snowmobiling and ice fishing activity. Recent snow and cold weather have brought more of those classic midwinter conditions, and fishing success remains slow. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines and angling without a trout stamp.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) checked anglers and snowmobile operators. Activity was down with the colder weather that came in. Trail conditions are good with the new snow. Enforcement action was taken for no snowmobile trail stickers and snowmobile speed.

CO Matt Miller (Silver Bay) checked trout anglers and snowmobile riders during a cold week. Ice conditions have firmed up nicely on lakes, making snowmobile travel easy. Some lakes have plowed roads, while others maintain too much snow for wheeled vehicles. A complaint of a wolf being unlawfully taken turned out to be a social media joke. Trout anglers are reminded that live minnows and more than one line are prohibited on designated trout lakes. Enforcement action was taken for angling and snowmobile violations.


CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports hitting the trails and lakes hard throughout the week with neighboring officers. Activity was low with a frigid cold front engulfing the area. However, there were multiple anglers checked with limits of lake trout in the mid-Gunflint Trail area. The officers found an angler using an extra line, and two snowmobile violations were documented. Hill is almost finished with a background investigation.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) patrolled snowmobile trails and area lakes. Anglers have reported a slow walleye bite with a few pike and perch being caught. Assistance was given to the county on a call involving a motorist who got stuck on a snowmobile trail. Training was attended, as was fur registration.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity over the past week. Enforcement action was taken for angling without licenses in possession, illegal possession of a pine marten and expired registration on a snowmobile.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked angling activity and snowmobile trails. Time was also spent following up on complaints and open cases. Holt continued working on a background investigation of an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to focus on ice fishing and snowmobiling activity. Fishing success slowed way down with the recent cold snap. Snowmobilers who dressed appropriately and were willing to brave the weather found that the trails were in great shape and had very few users.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Jacob Willis (Brookston) continued to patrol angling and snowmobile activity. Snowmobile activity continues to increase as the trails have gotten into good shape. Loud pipes continue to be a common complaint. Willis also assisted with fur registration.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked snowmobile enforcement on area lakes and trails. Loud exhaust, registration numbers/decals and snowmobile safety requirements continue to lead violations seen. Area lakes are still showing some slush in places and the drifts make traveling across the lakes rough. Angling activity has been steady, but slush conditions and a lack of plowed roads have limited much of the pressure this season.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) continued to work snowmobile enforcement during most of the week. Snowmobile trails continue to be busy in and around the Duluth area. Snowmobile activity on area lakes has increased due to the recent snowfall, allowing for less-bumpy snowmobile travel on the frozen lakes. Angling activity on area lakes was also worked. Duncan also spent some time at fur registration.


CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) spent time checking ice anglers and patrolling snowmobile trails this week. Injured-animal calls were also received and dealt with.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Willow River) worked on special projects this week.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) has spent the past week finishing a background investigation assigned to him. Time was also spent on snowmobile patrol, maintenance and checking anglers in the area. Fur registration was attended. Turnout was low.

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