DNR Report: Spring crappie bite continues to be hit-and-miss

May 2—Conservation officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports the sturgeon keep season on the Rainy River is fully underway with many people attempting to catch a monster pre-historic fish. Along with fishing enforcement, boat and water safety enforcement was the main focus of the work activities. Enforcement action was taken for boat registration issues; safety equipment violations; fishing license issues; failure to attach sturgeon tag; and transport unmeasurable sturgeon.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports spending time this past week working the Rainy River for the opener of the sturgeon keep season. Anglers reported some success throughout the week. Safety equipment and boat registration violations remain to be encountered. Enforcement action was taken on ATVs operating on closed snowmobile trails.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports handling numerous incidental otter catches over the week; nuisance wildlife was dealt with; and forest roads and water access sites continue to be monitored.

CO Sean Cannon (Cook) spent much of the week at Camp Ripley for training, other than that time was spent monitoring spring trapping and checking anglers. The spring crappie bite continues to be hit-and-miss, with things slowing down, most likely due to the colder weather.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily angling and off-highway vehicle enforcement. Larson spent time checking for anglers around his station. Larson encountered illegal spearing activity and take fish in a closed area, he also dealt with illegal youthful operation of an off-highway motorcycle. Assistance was also given to the Breitung Township Fire department at a fire in Soudan.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked ATV and trapping enforcement. In addition, time was spent maintaining station equipment and responding to many calls, including a report of several stolen traps and a wetlands violation.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia) spent time patrolling areas where he fielded multiple complaints of reckless ATV operation. Additional time was spent investigating a wetland violation and an individual burning tires on their property. CO Zavodnik reminds the public to brush up on the rules and regulations while on the water and when operating ATVs.

CO Duke Broughten (Aurora) spent the week monitoring fishing, boating, trapping, ATV activity. Rain limited recreational activity but helped with fire danger. Fishermen reported little success. Spring beaver trapping appears to be going well. Bears are making their appearance. Time to keep all garbage contained and take down the bird feeders. Seeing a bear is common and their presence alone doesn't mean they intend to cause harm. CO Broughten gave a presentation to local law enforcement regarding off-highway vehicle laws. CO Broughten also assisted with youth firearm safety.

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports very little ATV and angling activity was found over the week. Cool weather and occasional rain have temporarily decreased fire danger during green-up. A good number of contacts were made with folks attempting to locate running suckers, but very few fish were seen for the opening spearing weekend.

CO Brent Ihnen (Ely 2) spent the week patrolling for fishing and boating activity. Additional time was spent checking trapping activity.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked anglers along the north shore, trapping activity and monitored fishing closures. The officer talked with students about becoming a conservation officer at the Cook County career fair and attended the YMCA healthy kids' day with other area officers.

CO Hudson Ledeen (Grand Marais 2) reports spring beaver trappers and steelhead anglers continue to hit the rivers and creeks. Water levels have risen significantly with the recent rain fall. CO Ledeen also spent time talking to students at the Cook County High School Career Fair about the education and career path to becoming a conservation officer.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) spent time checking beaver traps, minnow traps, anglers, ATVs and working the spring fish run. A detail was worked at the Rainy River. Enforcement action was taken for commercial minnow trapping violations, unattended line and boating safety laws.

CO Trent Anderson (Tofte) focused on angling and trapping enforcement for the week. Time was spent patrolling area forest roads for ATV activity. Equipment maintenance was conducted.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked North Shore stream angling activities and spring beaver trapping. Recent rainfall has increased water levels in the area making for some fast water on most streams. Enforcement action was taken on illegal burning activity and a wetland violation.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) checked angling and recreational vehicle activity during the previous week. Time was also spent following up on wetland and public waters violations. Holt monitored turkey hunting and trapping activity.

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

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) has been busy working spring pan-fishing activity with the crappie bite getting really good in the area. Spring rains have warmed up waters and sent the crappies shallow. Enforcement action has been taken for failing to have the proper watercraft registration and the new 2024 angling licenses. CO Sutherland has also taken many complaints of bears getting into bird feeders and attempting to get into beehive equipment.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) worked spring fish run, monitored off-highway vehicle activity handled nuisance/injured animal calls and followed up on a wetland complaint. CO Fairbanks and his K-9 partner, Fennec, attended the commissioner's awards presentation at the central office in St. Paul where they and the rest of the Minnesota DNR K-9 unit received an award.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) reports that more people are taking to the lakes to test out their boats and they should ensure all their equipment is ready for the upcoming fishing opener. A law and ethics talk was given to a firearms safety class and assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies with calls for service.

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) checked anglers, patrolled walleye spawning areas, and checked beaver trapping activity. A raccoon was removed from a beaver trap; various hunting and fishing related questions were answered; and follow-up was conducted on previous cases.

CO Derek Peterlin (Brookston) spent the first half of the week at Camp Ripley training. Time was then spent investigating a possible wolf depredation; picking up incidental catches; checking out an illegal camping site; and fielding concerns about an injured black bear and working with the wildlife division on a plan to address the issue.

CO Andy Schmidt (Duluth West) worked angling activity and checked anglers along the shore. ATV/off-highway motorcycle complaints continue and especially near Island Lake with the low water levels and illegal riding along shorelines. A wolf depredation complaint was investigated and an illegal camping issue was handled.

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) spent time working along the North Shore of Lake Superior focusing on spring fish run activities. Time was spent working smelting activity, spring trapping activity, and continued to assist USDA wildlife services with a wolf depredation. Officer Duncan also took a few calls about bear activity around the Duluth area. If people feed wildlife around the Duluth area, there will be a good chance a bear will eventually stop by to eat.

CO Tony Elwell (Cloquet) monitored turkey hunting and angling activity this week. Poor weather this week put a damper on turkey hunting, but a few harvested toms were observed. Open-water season equipment was maintained and a possible wolf depredation was investigated.

CO Mikeena Wehr (Carlton) continued work on special projects. A law and safety talk was given at an ATV safety field day, which successfully certified about 50 students. As a reminder, before heading into open-water season, check your safety equipment onboard watercraft to make sure it is present and in good, working condition.

CO Aimee Hand (Willow River) attended training. She also followed up on trapping complaints in her station and CO Hand completed administrative tasks as the week ended quietly due to the rain.

CO Matt Miller (Marine Unit — Duluth) attended training for watercraft sonar and GPS operation involving new Marine Unit patrol craft. A cooperative investigation with other Great Lakes states was completed regarding sales of invasive species. Preparations for the upcoming sheriff's deputy watercraft enforcement school were completed.