Catching poachers helps anglers catch fish


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A DNR conservation officer found two people with nearly double their daily limit of sunfish on a Winona area lake this summer.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to work with citizens to ensure sustainable and equitable fishing opportunities. Helping conservation officers catch poachers – individuals that exceed legal limits of fish and game – will help to protect the quality of the state’s fishing.

Examples of poaching from this summer include six people possessing 676 mostly sunfish and crappies. The legal possession limit per person is 10 crappies and 20 sunfish, respectively.

Some anglers have been suspected of “double tripping,” catching their limit and returning to shore to clean and store the fish, and then going out to catch and keep more fish the same day.

Then there’s the recent case of an angler “triple-tripping” on a hot crappie bite.

“He caught his limit in the morning, at lunch, and again after dinner,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director. “The angler had also caught and kept his limit once the day before. When all fish were counted, the angler possessed 30-crappies over the limit.”

Exceeding the possession limit is more common than people might think, Soring said. The possession limit for most species is the same as the daily limit. For example, if you take a limit of 10 crappies, you may not take more that day, and you may not take more crappies on subsequent days if those fish combined with remaining crappies at home exceeds the 10-crappie limit. The possession limit applies to any fish at the lake, at the cabin and at home.

“Fishing mortality would be excessively high without regulation, the level of fishing would cause a decline in population abundance, and future anglers would have less to catch,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.

Minnesotans have a deep connection to the environment and generally want to ensure they are taking care of shared resources, Soring said. “We want to work with the public to apprehend those who fail to respect the resources or the rights of other citizens,” he said. “A majority of anglers in our state abide by the rules and regulations, and they won’t tolerate poaching.”

The 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook is available online or can be obtained from any fishing license vendor, as well as many outdoor retailers. More information about fishing regulations is available on the DNR website.

Report game and fish violations to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP. Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.