View Full Version : BRAVO to DFG and the COURTS

09-30-2005, 08:53 AM
We need more enforcement like this to protect our resource:

Angler hooked as fish pile up
Judge bars the man from his favorite pastime for 3 years over illegal catch.
By M.S. Enkoji -- Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 4:45 am PDT Friday, September 23, 2005
Story appeared in Metro section, Page B1
So you think you've heard enough fish stories? Well, Robert Allen might have reeled in a winner.
A lifelong fisherman, the 65-year-old south Sacramento man spent a week in January at his favorite pastime at Clear Lake, hooking crappies one after the other. Until he had heaped a pile of 133 - by his count.

But the state limit is 25. Besides, a California Fish and Game warden claimed Allen's take was more like 148.
Unfortunately, Allen - who isn't a lawyer - misunderstood state law, he concedes, about "bag limits," or the limit on how many fish anyone can possess.

The lowly crappie limit of 25 is much more generous than the single-digit limits on the more vaunted salmon or trout. But there is a limit.

On Jan. 20, while Allen was fishing, someone alerted a Fish and Game warden to Allen's growing pile of booty and then, before he knew it, Allen was looking at an $8,636 fine.

A Lake County prosecutor calculated the amount of the fine based on state Fish and Game wildlife guidelines. The penalty structure for overfishing or overhunting typically starts with a hefty base amount - $780 in Allen's case. From there, the sum escalates with a "per fish" amount for each one over the limit - $68 each in Allen's case.

Lake County Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff - who isn't a mathematician - mistakenly used a lower base penalty of $340 and charged Allen for 122 instead of 123 fish over the limit in figuring the $8,636 amount.

Still, Allen's is the biggest illegal crappie take to cross Hinchcliff's desk in the five years he has supervised fish and wildlife poaching cases.

In the past several weeks, 18 other anglers at a Lake County reservoir were caught with 20 to 40 crappie over the limit, he said.

But 123?

"This guy is over here raping our crappie fishery," Hinchcliff said.

Allen says he just likes the fishing. He gives the crappie away to friends and family. His favorite fish dish is red snapper.

Hinchcliff offered to knock $3,000 off the penalty if Allen paid the rest and agreed to three years of probation with no fishing.

Allen went before a Lake County judge Thursday, pleaded guilty, agreed to a $1,855 fine, five days in jail, 40 hours of work service and the probation terms.

He will be allowed to apply for home arrest and also to do the work service time in his home county, Hinchcliff said.

"They really laid it on me," Allen said after his court hearing.

Retired from Sacramento's city sanitation department, Allen usually fishes every weekend.

"It's my only recreation," he said.

Big fines for hunting and fishing violations often deliver sticker shock, said Lt. Liz Schwall, a game warden with the California Department of Fish and Game.

"People are stunned, and rightfully so, because it's something you don't think about, paying these penalties," she said.

Allen said he had spent five days fishing at Clear Lake, from Jan. 16-20, when a warden put a stop to his blissful pastime.

Allen said he believed the bag limit of 25 was a daily restriction. A perusal of the state's fish and game code isn't exactly clear on that point, but Schwall said the bag limit also defines the amount a sport fisher can possess at one time: in a boat, in an ice cooler, in a truck, even in a freezer at home. Technically.

For sport anglers who are camping or on an extended fishing trip, the bag limit can be doubled, said Schwall, which would seem to mean Allen could have qualified to possess 50 fish.

But Hinchcliff disagreed.

"It doesn't matter if he was over there a week," the deputy DA said.

Hinchcliff, also a longtime hunter and fisherman, said Lake County doles out some of the stiffest poaching fines in the state. He has forced the guilty to relinquish their rifles or forgo their hobbies, sometimes for years.

"I know where it hurts," he said.

The crappie population at Clear Lake nearly disappeared because of overfishing and has rebounded only recently, Hinch-cliff said, warranting painful penalties for violators.

"They're basically stealing from others who are trying to fish and hunt. They're stealing a public resource," he said.


09-30-2005, 09:05 AM
I like it...a nice "feel good" story for a Friday. I am glad that somebody took the time to report this person, and that the wardens actually showed up, AND that the courts actually laid wood on the poacher.

09-30-2005, 09:31 AM
Yeah, I acutally read that last Friday. Amazing.

10-01-2005, 06:23 AM
I read that one, too, and it blew me away. How could a serious fisherman think he was going to get away with 133 fish, and why would a serious fisherman keep that many in a cooler for a week? Doesn't make sense.

10-01-2005, 12:17 PM
Why would anyone want that many fish all at once? Imagine cleaning all those.

He must have been trying to prove something to someone. :-/

10-03-2005, 05:46 PM
I just found out about an aquaintance of mine that got popped by the F&G during the deer opener. They had a robo deer out and as they were going down the trail they saw it, got out took a shot and on the second shot was surrounded by the man and a few dogs. The bad part was that he honestly thought he was in his zone but took a wrong turn and crossed over into another zone. He could have been hit with a poaching cite too but they gave him a break and cited him for some other reason. He is going to fight it but I told him he was screwed.

10-04-2005, 08:26 PM
I heard the robo deer was up a X7A which opens this weekend. It is best to know the regs before hunting or fishing an area.

10-06-2005, 11:01 PM
I heard the robo deer was up a X7A which opens this weekend. *It is best to know the regs before hunting or fishing an area.

Yup, they were working X7A

10-07-2005, 10:45 AM
Cool post Wishnbfishn! And they say that there is only bad news in the news! ::) ;D