Perch overlimits are rampant on Sag Bay
Bay City, Mich. — Conservation officers believe that good perch fishing and poor winter ice conditions are likely the major factors behind an increase in the number of perch overlimits around Saginaw Bay this winter.
Officers in the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s District 6 – which includes Arenac, Bay, Tuscola, and Huron counties – have issued roughly a dozen citations this year to perch fishermen who were hauling in far more than their 50-fish limit, officials said.
“It’s been a pretty good year with perch, and since November, I’ve had five different tickets,” said Phil Hudson, a conservation officer assigned to Arenac County. “People are just taking advantage of it and getting greedy.”
In one case, Hudson ticketed Thomas Koerver, 55, of Rose City, near Pine River Road in Arenac County on Feb. 12 after the man came off the ice with a total of 97 perch in his possession, 47 fish over the limit. Koerver was cited for the illegal possession, pleaded guilty, and eventually was ordered to pay $470 in restitution for the fish, or $10 per perch over the limit. The court also imposed $115 in fines and costs, but did not revoke his fishing license, Hudson said.
License revocations are ordered “at the discretion of the court and it’s usually for repeat offenders,” Hudson said. “It’s different in every county, what the judge decides to do.”
In another case, Michael Huber, 58, of Auburn, was cited for allegedly possessing 58 perch near Palmer Road in Standish Township on March 7, according to court records. Huber, who pleaded not guilty earlier this month, has two previous convictions for overlimits and could face a potential license revocation, restitution costs for the fish, fines, and jail time. He has a pretrial scheduled for April.
CO Hudson’s partner, Nick Atkin, said he’s also issued a higher-than-average number of perch overlimit citations this winter, something he contributes to good perch fishing and bad ice that convinced some walleye anglers to fish for perch near shore. The higher number of perch fishermen is likely fueling the increase in violations, he said.
“Because our ice wasn’t very good, people couldn’t go out walleye fishing,” Atkin said. “We saw more overlimits this year than ever.”
In total, Atkin issued about a half-dozen tickets for overlimits throughout the winter. He said many of the violators tried to explain away their offenses, contending that they didn’t want to put the fish back in the same hole from which they were caught. Others attempted to dump their fish back under the ice as conservation officers approached, he said.
“A lot of people said … they don’t want to put them back down the same hole because it scares the other fish away. Their theory was they would keep the fish they want and throw the rest back” when they were done fishing, Atkin said, adding that he encouraged those anglers to drill another hole a comfortable distance away, and issued them citations.
“The biggest thing is, none of us can read people’s mind and know what their intent is,” he said.
Atkin said that while overlimits are not uncommon, particularly for perch, it is the excessiveness of the offenses that has been striking this season.
“The overlimits I was getting were massive overlimits,” Atkin said. “One guy had 139 perch in his bucket; his friend had 72.”