Gross Fishing Offenses

J.R. AbsherWhat constitutes a gross fishing offense? How about when you exceed the limit by 443 fish, like a Minnesota angler was charged with doing last month?

Gross Overfishing, Indeed!

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer investigating Chien Van Tran on a Wright County lake found 134 sunfish and 19 crappies on his boat, and more in a freezer in his home, for a total of 413 sunfish and 30 crappies over the legal limit.

If convicted, Tran faces a maximum $3,000 fine, a year in jail, $2,015 in restitution, plus the loss of his fishing privileges for three years.

CO Rick Reller of Buffalo reportedly watched as Tran, 39, placed a bag of fish in a locked compartment of his boat before leaving Pelican Lake on April 4.

“I asked how fishing was and if he had any fish onboard the boat,” said Reller. “He stated the fishing was ‘OK’ and he showed me a cooler with approximately a dozen panfish in it.”

Asked several times if there were other fish on the boat Tran said “no.” He eventually admitted there were more fish on board, around 100. The total was 134 sunfish and 19 crappies. The state daily/possession limit is 20 sunfish and 10 crappies.

Reller asked Tran if he had any more fish at home. With Tran’s permission, a check of a freezer found 11 bags of fish containing 299 sunfish and 21 crappies bringing the total number to 413 sunfish and 30 crappies over the legal limit.

Filet Jumbo

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, but be sure to tell him about bag limits!

If they’d ever heard any advice about fishing and bag limits, the members of a Milwaukee church congregation failed to take it to heart in this story from a few years ago.

Acting on an anonymous tip, wardens discovered a group of 13 men—reportedly part of a church group—with 2,238 bluegill, crappies and other fish over their limit on the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County.

The men, ranging in age from 34 to 74, faced forfeiture and restitution totaling $71,283 and revocation of fishing privileges, according to a DNR spokesperson.

“Based on our investigation so far, we believe there may have been others involved in this gross over-bagging case,” Sawyer County conservation warden Sue Miller said.

According to a report in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, the Chippewa Flowage is home to the world-record muskie, though panfish have come on strong in recent years.

The Chippewa Flowage has a 25-fish bag daily limit, of which only 15 may be crappies. The legal possession limit of panfish is 50, or a two-day bag limit.

Fishing “Too Good”

Q: When is the fishing too good?

A: When you get caught with 106 fish over the limit.

Back in the spring of 2005, Minnesota Conservation Officer Chris Vinton of Detroit Lakes received a Turn-in-Poacher (TIP) call that a group of anglers were fishing for sunfish on Tulaby Lake in northern Becker County and were taking more than 100 fish at a time. (The statewide limit for sunfish is 20 per angler.)

Armed with a vehicle description and other information, Vinton continued checking the lake every other day for several weeks until the group reappeared. Then, joined by another officer, he followed the anglers to a nearby cabin.

After receiving permission to search the cabin, officers found 85 sunfish in buckets and another 61 partially-frozen sunfish.

As a result, Jeffrey Allen Meuleners and Donald Peter Gabrelcik were each cited for possessing 53 sunfish over the limit. The citation carries a maximum fine of $1,072, restitution of $265 and a possible penalty of 90 days in jail for each man.

According to a DNR press release, Vinton said, “Both anglers kept commenting that they ‘could not stop’ and ‘the fishing was just too good.’”

Under terms of the citation, they each lost their fishing license for three years.

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