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Officers do follow-up work detail at Lake of the Woods

Conservation officers for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources did a follow-up work detail Wednesday on Lake of the Woods and found fewer violations than Jan. 20-23, when 234 walleyes and saugers were seized for various violations.

According to 1st Lt. Pat Znajda, district enforcement supervisor for the DNR in Thief River Falls, officers Wednesday issued two tickets for too many walleyes, two for possessing fillets on the ice, four for fishing with more than two lines and one for failure to display ATV registration.

Officers also issued five warnings to anglers who had purchased fishing licenses but didn't have them in their possession.

The follow-up work detail focused on the area from Zippel Bay to Rocky Point, Znajda said.

"Obviously, during the week, there's less anglers," he said. "We didn't run into near the violations as the previous weekend. We had a lot of positive comments while we were out there. People were happy to see us and had heard about the over-limits."

Not everyone was happy to see the officers, of course.

"I had two guys out there (Wednesday) that had 30 fish," Znajda said. "And they didn't know what the limits were."

On Lake of the Woods, the walleye limit is four. There's an aggregate limit of eight walleyes and saugers, but no more than four of those fish can be walleyes.

Anglers also are required to release all walleyes from 19½ to 28 inches.

Znajda said the most flagrant incident of keeping too many fish during the Jan. 20-23 work detail involved six anglers who were 56 fish over their limits. In one of the houses, Znajda said, the anglers had the fish filleted out in Ziploc bags and had hidden the catch between the floor and the ice.

Minnesota law requires anglers to keep the carcasses of fish they fillet on the ice until the fish are eaten. Once consumed, the carcasses can be discarded but not on the ice or in the water.

"The carcasses of the fish filleted on the ice must be available for inspection by a conservation officer," Znajda said. "If they are frozen or cut up, it's a violation."

According to the DNR, officers working Jan. 20-23 wrote 67 tickets and 66 warnings, reporting 23 instances of over-limits, 14 cases of anglers using extra lines, 12 anglers with no fishing licenses and five cases of illegal-length fish in possession.

Znajda said the growing popularity of wheel houses with creature comforts that enable anglers to stay right on the ice is a factor in some of the violations, especially with fish cleaning and consumption rules.

But it's not just overnight anglers breaking the laws.

"This year seems to be getting worse for these types of violations," he said. "We try to educate people. The regulations have been around for some time. People should have a pretty good idea or take it on themselves to find out."