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Ice fishing, trapping activity up throughout the region

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Dec. 27, 2021.

District 5 - Eveleth area

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls #2) reports checking ice anglers and monitoring trapping activity in the area.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports trapping and spearing activity is ongoing in the area, with participant numbers down from the previous week. Lack of snow has left area snowmobile trails in poor condition for snowmobile travel and recreational riders are all but nonexistent. Ice continues to form on area lakes but is inconsistent and caution is always advised. Trespass complaints were heard and addressed. Outdoor users need to keep in mind that disrespect for other people’s property can lead to further restrictions for all outdoor recreational activities.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) continues to monitor ice fishing as ice conditions approve. There’s been little to no snowmobile activity due to lack of snow on area trails. Public access sites were checked, as were area forest roads. Equipment work continues. Assistance was provided to the Forestry Division.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) primarily worked angling and trapping enforcement. Trapping activity was slow with few trappers with sets out. Angling activity has begun to pick up.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports recreational vehicles have been observed on surrounding lakes, and some snowmobile lake trails have also been marked by club members within the past week. Snowmobile trails are still rebounding from the latest spell of warm weather and rain but the upcoming snow forecast looks promising for riders. Time was also spent completing a timber-trespass complaint.


CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing and trapping activity. Few anglers were observed on area lakes this week. Anglers reported ice thickness from 4-8 inches. Some deeper lakes in the area just started to ice over. Snowmobilers continue to anxiously wait for snow.

District 6 - Two Harbors area

CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) assisted St. Louis County and Morse and Ely ambulance with a snowmobile accident near Burntside Lake. Fishing reports improved over the week as colder weather and more ice made more lakes accessible. Fisher and marten trapping activity stayed strong through the weekend and more than a few successful trappers were contacted.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked trappers and anglers this past week. Trapping was slow but some nice fish are being caught. Snowmobiling activity picked up and trail conditions should improve this week with the upcoming snowfall.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked pine marten, fisher and otter sets. Snowmobile trails were also patrolled. Temperature swings and lack of good snowfall continue to cause varied trail conditions.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked trapping and angling enforcement and followed up on a violation from the deer season. A dumping complaint was also followed up on. Enforcement action was taken for a deer-tagging violation, litter, and unmarked fish house.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) answered trapping and angling questions.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports seeing an uptick in trapping activity compared to the first weekend. Trappers utilized snow machines to get to some hard-to-reach areas. Some success was seen. Enforcement action was taken for an illegal body-gripping trap. Cross-country ski activity is ramping up with some recent snowfall and ski pass compliance has been excellent. More work was done on an ongoing trapping case.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked trapping and angling activity this week. Ice conditions improved with the a few days of cold weather freezing areas of overflow. Area snowmobile trails were still ungroomed this week due to lack of snow but snow is in the forecast.


District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers and trappers and patrolled area lakes on snowmobile. Enforcement action was taken for fishing without a fishing license, no fishing license in possession, unattended fishing lines and using perch as bait. Enforcement action was also taken for multiple fishing line violations and no shelter tags.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked trapping complaints and monitored snowmobile activity. Angler success was good this week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues and operating a snowmobile on the roadway.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked angling and recreational vehicles during the week. Time was also spent monitoring trapping and small-game hunting activity. Enforcement action was taken for possession of drugs and paraphernalia and fish house violations.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling and snowmobile activity. Deer-season case work was also followed up on with cases being closed out. Many people were out during Christmas break getting out on the ice and catching panfish and walleyes. Enforcement action was taken for failing to have an angling license and failing to possess an angling license. Sutherland also responded to a snowmobile crash where an individual fell from his snowmobile and broke their ankle.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked angling, spearing, snowmobile and trapping activities. Area snowmobile trails are in need of more snow. Several anglers were contacted over the holiday weekend and reported moderate success. Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, no angling license in possession and various snowmobile violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) continued to monitor trapping and ice angling activity. Ice conditions have improved greatly on most area lakes and more and more permanent fish houses are being seen. The fish bite continues to be pretty good with crappie fishing being the best.

District 8 - Duluth area

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) responded to a call that involved a dead deer found in the caller’s yard. The investigation found the antlerless deer died by archery. The person who shot the deer and the location where the deer was taken are still unknown.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked ice anglers and answered questions about trapping. Snowmobile traffic is light as trails need more snow. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile violations.


District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports anglers enjoyed pretty good ice fishing success on area lakes. Ice anglers are traveling by foot, ATV or snowmobile. Recent snowfall has made travel on area lakes difficult. Area snowmobile trails have quality snow cover for snowmobiles.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) spent the week checking ice anglers and snowmobile riders and following up on trapping investigations.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking snowmobilers and anglers. Good success was found on Big Sandy for a variety of species. Other lakes were also producing fish, but not the size. Some snowmobile trails have been groomed to make for OK riding, but more snow is needed for good riding. Enforcement action was taken for expired registration and no shelter licenses.

Katie Rohman has served as the managing editor of the Duluth News Tribune since 2019. She started with Duluth Media Group in 2017 as regional editor of the Superior Telegram, Pine Journal, Lake County News-Chronicle, Eastern Observer and Western Weekly. She has worked in newspapers around the Midwest since 2004.
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