ECOs catch opportunistic fishermen

State Department of Environmental Conservation officers (ECOs) busted plenty of illegal fishermen from New York City to Niagara County in the last few weeks, including several in the North Country who allegedly took advantage of recent state fish stocking efforts.

Washington County

On Monday, April 23, ECOs Steve Gonyeau and Marcia Goodrich were assisting with fish stocking operations on the Mettawee River in the town of Granville. A volunteer who was helping noticed his phone was missing and backtracked to a previous stocking site looking for it. There he saw two men fishing who hid when they spotted the volunteer.

The man notified the ECOs, who responded and were told by the men that “the fish were not biting.” The ECOs conducted a consent search of the men and found 22 brown trout ranging in size from 8 to 12 inches. The man was issued a ticket for taking 17 fish over the daily limit of five, while the other man was ticketed for fishing without a license.

The volunteer found his cellphone in his truck.

Clinton County

On Tuesday, May 1, ECOs Chris Lagree and Lt. Mike Phelps received a tip about possible illegal activity at the Plattsburgh City Marina on Lake Champlain. The ECOs found two men who had been fishing leaving the site. Upon questioning, the men admitted to catching over the limit of three trout per person per day on Lake Champlain. All trout caught on the lake and its tributaries must also be at least 12 inches long.

The ECOs found the men to be in possession of 42 brown trout, all of which were 10 inches or under in length. Both men were issued tickets for possessing over the limit of fish and possessing under-sized fish.

Jefferson County

On Friday, April 20, at 10:30 p.m., ECO Pete Jackson received a complaint that someone had shot and killed a duck in the town of Rodman. Jackson responded and found duck feathers floating on the water. He also found and photographed tire tracks and boot prints in the snow. The complainant said he heard two shots and a loud truck. Later on, Jackson found a dead mallard in the middle of the road a few miles away.

The next morning, Jackson located the truck and its owner with a collection of dead animals in the truck bed, including a Canada goose, a wood duck, a merganser, a cottontail rabbit and a red fox. Jackson confiscated the animals and the rifle used to kill the fox, and issued the man tickets for the taking of fox out of season, unlawfully using a semiautomatic rifle with capacity greater than six rounds to hunt, taking a duck out of season, taking a duck with an illegal implement and the unlawful taking of wildlife.