DNR Report: Double the advised thickness guidelines for white ice

Feb. 1—Conservation officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports recent warm weather has not been conducive to snowmobile activity as trails haven't been groomed; most of the activity has been on the lake surfaces. Ice conditions had been improving but that has slowed with the warmer weather. People are still reminded to use extreme caution.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending time this past week working area lakes and rivers. The warm weather had many people outdoors recreating. Anglers reported a slower bite, and snowmobile riders reported good conditions while traveling area lakes. Enforcement action taken this past week consisted of fishing with extra lines and registration-related issues for ATVs and snowmobiles.

CO John Slatinski IV (Ray) reports above-average temperatures have begun to take a toll on the snow that we had. Anglers and snowmobilers have not given up and continue to make the best of it. Overland trails do not have any base to speak of. Ice surfaces still have some snow and now slush is beginning to accumulate. Equipment maintenance was tended to. A presidential security detail was worked at the Duluth airport.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports significant melting over the week. What little snow we had is rapidly deteriorating with rocks, dirt and grass showing on snowmobile trails. Recreational trail riding is nearly nonexistent. Some angling is going on, but very few fish are being caught. Small creeks have again opened and there is standing water and slush on lakes and rivers. Significantly warmer weather for the upcoming week should further reduce snow levels.

CO Sean Cannon (Cook) spent most of the week monitoring ice fishing activity in the area, with most anglers reporting slow fishing. Snowmobile activity is still mostly confined to the lakes, as the poor trail conditions are worsening with the warmer weather and lack of snow. A nuisance-fox call was also fielded.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling and snowmobile activity in his station. Larson spent time checking for anglers on Lake Vermilion. Some were having a harder time finding good numbers of walleyes, but some anglers are beginning to catch more crappies. Trail conditions remain poor on land, but decent on lake trails. Larson also worked on equipment maintenance and participated in a work detail.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) worked angling and ATV enforcement. In addition, time was spent completing online training, attending training at Camp Ripley, and working a detail assignment.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) reports warmer weather throughout the week has welcomed anglers back onto the ice, mostly in search of panfish. That being said, river mouths and flowages have started to open back up, creating pockets of open water. Time was spent pulling unmarked ice shelters off the ice and assisting with a work detail in the metro.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, spearing, snowmobile, and ATV activity. Recent warm weather deteriorated snowmobile trails and created slush on area lakes. Anglers reported limited success. Snowmobile season is still on hold, or it may not happen at all. Broughten also fielded calls regarding trail closures, ice conditions, and predator hunting.

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports slush conditions on all area lakes have increased and several anglers using ATVs reported difficulty accessing lakes. Angler success was overall good and seemed to be an improvement from previous weeks. Snowmobile activity was low but consistent as trails seemed to be holding, although in generally poor condition.

CO Brent Ihnen (Ely 2) focused on checking anglers this week. He also patrolled for snowmobile and ATV activity.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked primarily angling and recreational vehicle enforcement throughout the week. The warm weather has brought slush to area lakes. Most fish bites have been slow in the area. Enforcement action was taken for unmarked fish houses; no shelter tags; failure to transfer snowmobile ownership; and failure to display ATV registration. Seventeen youths were certified in snowmobile safety in Babbitt.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked anglers on area lakes. Time was also spent in Duluth for a work detail with area officers.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais 2) reports anglers continue to catch fish on area lakes. The warm weather has now pretty much made the snowmobile trails unusable. Ledeen also received multiple complaints of wolf activity. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and angling violations.

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) patrolled area lakes on snowmobile to check anglers. An individual was found in possession of 10 walleyes within the protected slot limit on Island Lake. Enforcement action was taken and the walleyes were seized. Other violations encountered included ATV registration and fishing license violations.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) worked ATV riders, small-game and fishing activities. He patrolled campgrounds and trails. Numerous game- and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, monitored snowmobile activity and assisted with a motor vehicle accident. Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Fennec, also attended training this past week. Enforcement action was taken for license issues, no skin patch and DWI.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked ice angling activities over the past week with many people out trying to take advantage of the potentially shorter ice season. Sutherland worked on finalizing past cases from the firearms deer season and also helped instruct a youth snowmobile safety class with CO Hochstein. During the safety class, instructor Tony Benes was presented with a framed print representing 30 years as a youth snowmobile safety instructor.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) worked sport fishing, dark house spearing, and snowmobile activities throughout the surrounding areas. Assistance was also given to neighboring law enforcement agencies as well. Enforcement action was taken for overlimits of sunfish and several angling license violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) noticed a lot of people running snowmobiles on the lake for recreation because the trails still don't have enough snow for riding. As warmer weather moved in, the panfish bite improved a bit as well. Several angling and ATV violations were addressed.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked recreational vehicles and angling activity during the previous week. Time was also spent working on a background investigation on an applicant for the next CO Academy.

CO Derek Peterlin (Brookston) spent a lot of time monitoring angling activity this week. Time was also dedicated to ongoing investigations from the 2023 deer season. Enforcement action was taken for multiple big-game violations; no angling licenses in possession; and failure to renew or display recreational vehicle registration. A livestock depredation was also investigated.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) followed up on open cases from deer season most of the week along with CO Peterlin. Ice anglers were checked on area lakes and the harbor. Ice conditions, especially in the harbor, are beginning to look a little suspect with the recent warm weather. He also followed up on a trespassing complaint.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent some time working area lakes checking fishing activity. During this time, recreational vehicle enforcement was also monitored. Due to the lack of snow, more ATV activity is happening rather than snowmobiling. Many of the area trails are snowmobile-only, so ATV usage should be limited to lakes and allowable road rights of way. Duncan also spent a few days in the metro assisting with an agency work detail.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) monitored ice angling this week. Ice conditions seem to be changing daily on area lakes. Use caution while on the ice with ATVs and snowmobiles. Enforcement action was taken for various ATV violations encountered during the week.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Carlton) spent time this week working on special projects. Warm weather continues in the area. Anglers should practice extra caution when venturing out onto area lakes. Remember, white ice is only about half as strong as new, clear ice. Double the recommended ice thickness guidelines when you see white ice.

CO Aimee Hand (Willow River) spent most of the week checking ice anglers. The cold weather helped local lakes add ice and many people got out to enjoy it before the warm weather hits. Trout anglers saw more success than observed on opener and a few walleyes were found on Mille Lacs Lake. Hand continued her investigations into big-game and trapping violations. Enforcement action for the week included angling without a license and operating ATVs with expired registration.

CO Ben Karon (Pine City) worked on completing a background investigation for the next CO Academy. Time was also spent on a detail in the metro. Calls were taken for various wildlife-related complaints. With the warmer weather, Karon would like to remind everyone to be careful when venturing onto the ice.

CO Matt Miller (Marine Unit — Duluth) checked ice anglers on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River. Some decent ice formed very quickly during the cold weather, and left even faster as the wind switched and blew it away in a matter of hours. Training was attended for alcohol enforcement work on watercraft. Preparations were made for an ice safety event in Duluth. Enforcement action was taken for angling activity.