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Sharing a fishing license is illegal

A Minnesota man faces multiple charges and fines after he was caught using his brother's fishing license while on the St. Louis River near Knife Falls Dam in Cloquet, May 13, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). His brother was also cited.

Andrew T. Swenson, 30, of Cloquet had difficulty answering questions about date of birth, height, weight, and the address listed on the fishing license when asked by a DNR conservation officer (CO).

A check on the Minnesota driver's and vehicle services website pulled up a picture of a person who looked different than the person who was fishing.

"I asked him to look at the photo on my computer screen and asked him who that was a picture of," said CO Scott Staples of Carlton. "He said it was his brother."

Swenson said his application for a fishing license was rejected because he was cited the previous year for fishing with extra lines. Staples had issued that citation.

Swenson was taken into custody on Staples' warrant for his arrest for failing to pay the previous year's fine.

While Swenson was booked into the Carlton County Jail, Staples called Swenson's brother, Chayse J. Swenson, 20, of Duluth, who said he was aware that his brother had his license.

"He stated that he did not think it was that big of a deal," Staples said. "I informed him that it was not legal to lend another person a game or fish license and that I would be mailing him a citation for that violation."

Andrew Swenson was charged with a gross misdemeanor for giving false information to a peace officer, angling without a license, and lending, borrowing or transferring a license. The maximum fine for a gross misdemeanor is $3,000. Angling without a license carries a $50 fine. Lending, borrowing, or transferring a license is a $100 fine.

Chayse Swenson was charged with lending, borrowing or transferring a license. He pleaded guilty and paid the fine.

Col. Ken Soring, DNR enforcement director, said one of the most common fishing violations is angling without a license. Minnesota statute states anglers age 16 or older must have the appropriate license in their possession when fishing.

"Well, 'I don't have one' or 'I just forgot to bring it with me' is an excuse that conservation officers wish they'd hear less often than they do," Soring said. He also said it's an excuse that's easily corrected.

The state's electronic licensing system issues licenses and stamps through 1,500 license agent locations statewide. Agents charge an issuing fee for each license and stamp sold.

Instant licenses and stamps are also available online at or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional convenience fee is added for sales via the website or telephone.

"The purchaser is licensed immediately, which is a tremendous feature," Soring said. "Then you're on your way to your favorite fishing spot."

Anyone witnessing a fish or wildlife violation is encouraged to contact the 24 hour toll-free Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.