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Anglers pushing their limits


genio in duluth

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Good story by John Myers in Duluth News Trib. on over limits this season.



Anglers pushing their limits, DNR says

ILLEGAL CATCH:Reports of people taking too many fish flood in from conservation officers.

BY JOHN MYERS

NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER


Despite the slowly warming spring and mostly slow fishing action, reports of anglers exceeding their legal limits of fish continue to pour in from Minnesota conservation officers statewide.

In recent weeks, reports of people taking dozens of fish over their limits from the St. Louis River in Duluth made headlines across the state.

As fishing action heats up with water temperatures, the problem is spreading statewide and into Canada, including one case where anglers were caught with more than 300 fish over their legal limit.

During the past week:

• Officer Lloyd Steen of Ray was called to U.S. Customs in International Falls to process a violation involving northern pike caught in Ontario. Five California men were apprehended bringing 63 northern pike into Minnesota -- 43 over the limit. The catch was stashed in their duffel bags, suitcases and sleeping bags. A $1,360 bond was collected.

• Officer Marty Stage of Babbitt reported a group of four Wisconsin anglers had 66 mostly frozen fish in their possession, many packed in blocks of ice with no skin attached. After thawing them, officers determined there were too many small walleyes being passed off as perch. The anglers were charged with being over the limit. State law requires a patch of skin on fillets being transported.

• Officer candidate Keith Bertram of Sauk Centre was training with officer Doug Lage in the Marshall area when they received complaints regarding over-limits of crappies. Two people from Tracy, Minn., were found to be 314 crappies over their limit. The limit is 10 crappies apiece.

• Officer Cary Shoutz of Crosslake responded to an aggressive crappie bite on Lake Emily and found a husband and wife in possession of 49 crappies, 29 over their limit. Fines and restitution will exceed $1,200.

• Officer Kevin Prodzinski of Zumbrota and officer Julie Kroening of Eagan took enforcement action when two people were found leaving an area lake with a bag containing 18 crappies. Investigation revealed an additional 15 crappies hidden in the minnow bucket, 13 over their limit.

"It's all about opportunity. It appears we're getting more of these big over-limit cases as the fishing is getting better," said Mike Hamm, chief of enforcement for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "We're also seeing more people calling in on the TIP line." TIP stands for Turn in Poachers.

Earlier in the season, on the St. Louis River in Duluth, reports were that some Twin Cities anglers were catching too many fish from shore while some local anglers were making more than one trip to the river each day, taking a limit each time in violation of the law. Two of the more egregious cases involved anglers with 110 and 26 fish over their limits.

In another case, a construction worker found 125 crappies and 102 white bass in a St. Paul home freezer, dozens over the limits for each, and called the TIP line, which spurred an arrest. The offender faces $3,000 in fines and another $1,450 in restitution.

Reports coming in from officers during the past week don't include many reports, Steen said.

"We had another case last week from (Pelican Lake) with two old guys, late 60s or early 70s, who had 49 sunfish. That's nine over their limit. I don't know if that's even newsworthy any more," he said.

It's not that anglers are more unethical, officers say, but that officers are being encouraged to issue more citations and to report those arrests to the public.

In recent years, the Minnesota Legislature has cracked down, enacting stiffer penalties, including revocation of license privileges. Lawmakers also have added mandatory restitution fees for the value of the fish lost to honest Minnesotans.

In recent years, DNR managers have required officers to write a weekly report that's available to the public. After balking at the added paperwork, many officers are highlighting significant enforcement actions to educate the public and reduce violations.

"It's not that any officer would avoid a big over-limit arrest" in years before, Hamm said, "but now, we're all more likely to hear about it."

"We've seen the reaction from the public," Steen said, "and I think more of us are thinking this may be a way to get the word out that we are out there looking for these people."

Conservation officers also are crediting help from other law enforcement agencies. A local police officer conducting a traffic stop, for instance, discovered the St. Louis River incident involving 110 fish over the limit and called DNR officers. State Patrol and border agents also are calling the DNR.

In Steen's case, the number of border-poaching arrests has increased, thanks mostly to post-Sept. 11 antiterrorism measures. Border agents in International Falls, for example, can X-ray boats with a high-resolution screen showing agents what's inside, from anchors and cushions to fish inside coolers. The remote scanner is intended to show what's inside semitrailers crossing the border.

U.S. laws and Minnesota laws make it a crime to illegally import fish or game caught in violation of laws in Canada, so jurisdiction is not an issue.

"Some of them think they made it once they cross the border into the U.S.," Steen said. "Boy, are they surprised."


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JOHN MYERS covers the environment, natural resources and general news. He can be reached at (218) 723-5344 or at [email protected]

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Wow.

You keep hearing more and more of these violations. My concern is that people hear this and think that if everyone else is doing this, why can't I.

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Or the flip side....

Maybe people will get the message that pressing their luck isn't worth a few extra fillets.

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Thanks to the invention called the cell phone more and more people are being caught. I know I have the TIP line on speed dial. If I see someone over there limit and still fishing or keeping a fish out of season I am on the cell phone call my friends at the DNR. Most fisherman follow the limits set by the DNR but some do not. So this is a warning to all of the anglers who think the rules do not apply to them, cell phones are every where you never know who is watching you just do not have to worry about a conservation officer being around but 1 million anglers with cell phones ready to hit the speed dial for the TIP line.

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I would like to see these fines 10x what they are now. That might make these game hogs think twice about going over their limit. In today's economy, $1000 is nothing to some people. They may see it as the price to have a little "extra" fun. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all these people that get caught are well-to-do. I'm sure they are from all areas of the income scale. I feel that until the cost of poaching becomes more than a bank withdrawal, we won't see much of a decline. People like this need to have their sporting privileges taken away for a while or forever. Just my 2 cents.

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I would also like to see the names printed in the paper along with the violation. I think this would make most fisherman think twice about keeping more fish than the law allows. Think about it, who would want their name publicized for their friends or family to read when they commited a crime. Just my .02 cents

[This message has been edited by STILLNOFISH (edited 06-09-2004).]

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I AGREE! A THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE IS PROBABLY NOTHING TO MOST PEOPLE. "HERE YOU GO MR. DNR OFFICER, HERE'S YOUR MONEY. CAN I GO NOW?" THEY NEED TO INFORCE STIFFER PENALTIES. I SAY AT LEAST $100 FOR EACH FISH OVER THE LIMIT. THAT'LL MAKE 'EM THINK TWICE ABOUT DOING IT. AND I THINK PIKEMANIA IS RIGHT ON, EVERY PERSON ON THIS FORUM, OR ANYONE THAT FISHES AND CARES ABOUT THIS WONDERFUL RESOURCE SHOULD HAVE THE T.I.P. HOTLINE NUMBER PROGRAMMED INTO THEIR CELL PHONE. THE MORE PEOPLE THAT GET CAUGHT, THE BETTER THE FISHING BECOMES FOR THE ONES THAT CARE!

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<*))))))))><{

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Great story. Poachers be warned. We as sportsmen need to continue to gently change the culture of other anglers by our actions and by talking up the benefits of CPR. Maybe a boat bumper sticker campaign that says "I turn in poachers" just might make some a little nervous about being seen harvesting overlimits.

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Great post Genio!
What I don't understand is, if you have 1 too many to drink? They can take away your boat truck trailer etc and the DWI fine is huge! But, gross over the limit rarely mentions the loss of property or jail time. Very agreeable that these are simple fines for a person with a $20,000 boat and a new SUV If some of these wanna be anglers/criminals lost a 20 grand boat and their wife's new SUV for fish? Possibly it may help make others think 2x before getting stupid.

Picture the scenerio
(From a pay phone at the Border)
"HI Hunny? I sorta lost your Suburban and the boat to the Minn DNR because me and the guys were over our limit by a measley 100 walleyes! Can you believe it?
UM Can you send us some bus fare??? grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif
I bet she gets the house!! grin.gif

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www.todaystackle.com
www.otteroutdoors.com

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The article is great, and timely as the fish are turning on. I too am on the side of much stiffer penalties. At the very least, start taking boats and/or vehicles, and have a set per fish over the limit fine--$100 so the math is easy.
I just don't get what people would even want that many fish for???? For crying out loud those *****s from Cali had northerns....northerns, what the he!! for??? I hate cleaning one of those boney s.o.b.s, but 60 or whatever it was, c'mon. I would really like to get one of these *****s to tell me why they need that many frickin' fish. Sorry, just thinking about it gets me riled up.

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Fish on gotta go--JON

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And we can thank the whiny, Left-powered ACLU for why there aren't real penalties for most crimes committed today.

Oh, it's un-constitutional, sob, sob, sob...

Hey--if you can't afford the fine all you have to do is plead poverty and get a court-appointed lawyer to represent your sorry hide...fines don't mean anything, most people skate on them anyway...

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Chells

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Hey Chells....

Long time.....

Now don't hold back - tell us how you really feel on this subject. wink.gif

Take care

UG

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How about all these "fisherman" who claim they do not know, or understand our regulations? If you want to live here and fish our waters, you had better learn the regs FAST.... Man this really makes me mad!! It seems every day I am reading a new story like this:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/news/releases/index.html?id=1086720681

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Hey UG--How's the fishing?

Sorry to sound so cynical, but I'm surprised by the large number of us who want assurance of penalty, vote for those who are also in favor of it, expect them to change the laws but still we see increasing "petty crimes" and even worse crimes committed every day!

Does this mean that no matter who's in charge nothing will get done regardless?

Someone tell me there IS a Santa Claus grin.gif

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Chells

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What I can never comprehend is what in the hell do people do with that many fish anyway? Do they sell them or give them to friends? I am afraid to know how many just get thrown away because of freezer burn because there is no way anyone can eat that many. Also I wonder for everyone that they bust how many people are getting away with it.

I am all for stiffer penalties for game and fish violations, at what point will people stop though. Some of these people won't stop no matter what the risk. I just don't get it?

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I had serious doubts that this thread would go 24 hours without someone playing the "race-card".

Suspicion confirmed.

Remember, no one in the original post was anything other that anglo-saxon, good-old, white guys. I don't listen to liberals complain if I don't see them trying to better themselves, and I have a hard time listening to some folks talk about "those other people" far more often than they do about the poachers who look sound and sometimes act just like themselves.

And spare me your rage. I'm as right wing, republican, flag at half-mast, God bless Dutch Reagan, concealed carry permit owning white guy as they come. But I'm also smart enough to know more white folks are poaching over their limits than yellow ones........

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I think it is clear why they can take your vehicle if you drive after having drank too much-drunk drivers kill people.

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These poachers are of all races and in state and out of state folks.

I think ice fishing also gives some people access to prime fishing spots that they do not have a boat to get to. So they strike while the iron is hot..

I think there have been alot of good ideas here. The bumper sticker " I report poachers" is an example. I also think the restitution should be progressive, meaning each additional fish should cost more than the previous fish. It would really target the large overlimits violators.

The disturbing thing about the article on the DNR site is the woman was given the fish by her son. Does he lose his fishing license? I don't see in the article that they did anything to him. So he may still be fishing.

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Irving, I re-read every post in the thread, and as far as I can see, you are the only one to bring up race. I think I speak for many of us when I say, a poacher is a poacher, hang 'em high, and let the rest of us hunt and fish respondibly. I don't care who they are, where they came from, or anything else about a poacher, the fact is stated in almost every post--the penalties are wayyyyyyy too lenient.

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Fish on gotta go--JON

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Leech21 mentioned programming the TIP phone number in to your cell phone....

Here is the number:

1-800-652-9093

Just popped it in to mine.

UG

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Irvingdog -
You're totally out of line and your post adds nothing to the discussion.
Re-read everyones posts in this thread. Its been a very civil, interesting exchange. All factual as far as I can tell.

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Yeah, not to subtle race baiting at the end of page one. I'm aware that most have been civil, but not all. A certain post on page one is how every other poaching thread has gone up in flames.

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I know you are directing your comments to my post. I was talking about ignorance not race... I don't care what you are. If you fish in this state, you should KNOW and follow the regs.

[This message has been edited by MURPHFISHER (edited 06-09-2004).]

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Seeing those pictures and reading the stories makes me even madder. Folks we need to lobby our representitives for harsher penalties. I will be sending letters and making calls. This how fisheries get ruined.

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Fine. I am not playing any race card, but if you are gonna fish/hunt in this state, you better darn well be able to read/comprehend/understand the regulations.

How do you get a license if you cannot understand the regulations?

Is that playing a race card? No. It just makes common sense.
My best friend worked for the DNR for years, and ran into non-english speaking people on many occasions that were breaking laws. He is not in enforcement, so he could not do much except report it and hope that enforcement could find these individuals before they were gone.

And of course we have lots of people that can read/understand our regs, and just choose to be jerks as well.
But, I still don't understand how we hand out licenses to people that cannot comprehend our rule books.

[This message has been edited by biglakeba$$ (edited 06-09-2004).]

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How about much stiffer penalty's and their name and picture in the Regs booklet for the next year? Wouldnt that suck to have people recognize you from your pic in the regs and know your a poacher?
Also these people should lose their license for 10 years the 1st time and life the second!

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B-Lake Bass,

MN DNR hands out licenses with no control of whom they go to, mostly due to automated systems.

All we have to do is hand over a MN DL or ID card and answer a couple of questions and we get the license.

Imagine how everyone would complain if they had to actually take a written or oral exam AFTER taking hours of classroom education on ethics and laws--this is how it's done in English-speaking Europe, I'm not sure about other countries, e.g. New Zealand, Sweden.

Our country has, by our own politics, become so liberal with freedom and its resources that naturally we are experiencing the down-side of all this freedom.

Everyone wants to come here and live freely, but they don't want to live responsibly...

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Chells

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Yeah. I hear ya Chells.

Easier said than done.

Just a frustrating thing. Oh well, lead by example to as many as possible, and hopefully we can all make a small positive impact somewhere along the line.

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